On Wednesday, I linked to the story of 22-year-old Daniela Vargas, an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the United States at age 7 and had been protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hours after speaking at an immigrant rights event.
Vargas' DACA status expired in November, and she was not able to submit a new application to extend it until February, because it took her some time to save the $495 application fee. Her application was received February 10, but she was arrested anyway, because it has not yet been processed.
That Vargas, who did not make the choice to enter the country and is abiding by the rules as best and as quickly as she can, has been detained, when Donald Trump is busily saying garbage like his deportation force will focus on "bad dudes," is appalling. And now her attorney has been told she will be deported.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for ICE said Vargas would go through court proceedings to determine whether she is eligible for some type of relief, adding that the agency would take no further action until those proceedings were completed.Vargas, who is currently in detention awaiting her fate, released this heartbreaking statement:
But Abby Peterson, Vargas' attorney, said ICE agents told her on Thursday that they would instead pursue immediate deportation without a court hearing or bond because Vargas entered the country through the visa waiver program, which allows certain foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for under 90 days without a visa. (Argentina was previously part of the program, although it no longer is.) Individuals who use the visa waiver program have no right to a hearing or to contest their removal unless they are seeking asylum.
I don't understand why they don't want me. I'm doing the best I can. I mean I can't help that I was brought here but I don't know anything else besides being here and I didn't realize that until I was in a holding cell last night for 5 hours. I was brought here. I didn't choose to be here. And when I was brought here, I had to learn a whole new country and leave behind the one that I did know. And I barely knew that one.Daniela Vargas is more a patriot than anyone currently inhabiting the White House and at least half of the U.S. Congress. I strongly feel that she should be given a chance to be here, too.
I feel, I strongly feel that I belong here and I strongly feel that I should be given a chance to be here and do something good and work in this economy. There's so much that I can bring to the table, so much, like I can even teach music, I'm an excellent trumpet player you can ask my mom about any of that. I'm great with math, I speak Spanish. You know, there's a lot of stuff that I can do for this country that they're not allowing me to do. I've even tried to join the military, and I can't do that. But, I mean that's not the point, the whole point is that I would do anything for this country.
Fuck anyone who thinks otherwise. I take up space in solidarity with Daniela Vargas, and all the other valuable members of U.S. society who are in a similar situation, for lack of a piece of a paper.
That piece of paper doesn't make you a patriot. Which has never been more clear.