Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant from Jackson, Miss., was arrested Wednesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after speaking at a press conference about her family members who were detained, and now she is set to be deported without a court hearing, reported The Huffington Post.
Vargas, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient, came to the U.S. from Argentina when she was 7. Through DACA, Vargas was able to obtain a work permit and deportation reprieve, but when she was detained by ICE her DACA status had expired. The 22-year-old was saving money to cover the cost of the application, which costs $495, since it expired in November. Her new application was received on February 10, reported the Huffington Post.
A spokesman from ICE said that Vargas would go through court proceedings in order to figure out if she is eligible for any kind of relief. But her lawyer told another story. According to Abby Peterson, who represents Vargas, ICE agents confirmed Thursday that Vargas would be immediately deported without a hearing because Vargas came to the U.S. through a visa waiver program that allows certain foreign nationals to enter the country for less than 90 days without a visa and those who use the waiver program do not have a right to a hearing or to contest their deportation unless they plan to seek asylum, reported the site.
"She was 7-years-old at the time [she came to the U.S.]," Peterson told the Huffington Post. "She didn't waive those rights, her parents waived those rights. And now she's an adult trying to assert her own rights."
The press conference where Vargas originally spoke out against ICE for detaining her brother and father happened on Wednesday. The 22-year-old was stopped and arrested by ICE after she left the conference. The day before the conference, Vargas told the Huffington Post that she was not staying in one place because she was "afraid to stay in one spot and be taken back to Argentina." The young woman was afraid because her father and brother were detained on Februrary 15 by ICE agents at their home. ICE asked Vargas if she was a DACA recipient and because she told them that she was, they didn't detain her at the time.
Vargas is in an ICE detention center in Louisiana. United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, has set up a petition, asking John Kelly, the Secretary of Homeland Security, to release Vargas. Activists held a rally at the Mississippi State Capitol today. United We Dream posted a photo of the group trying to deliver 50,000 signed petitions in support of Vargas's release to Homeland Security, but the group claims they were not allowed into the building.
Daniela Vargas released a statement through her lawyer to the Huffington Post about why she believes ICE should allow her to stay in the country:
"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. 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."