Daniela Vargas, the DACA recipient who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in Jackson, MS, on Wednesday just hours after speaking at a press conference about living as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., will now be deported without a hearing, her attorney told The Huffington Post.
Vargas—who immigrated as a seven-year-old with her family to the U.S. from Argentina on a 90-day visa—had been a recipient of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program designed for the children of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age. Her lawyer, Abby Peterson, told The New York Times that Vargas, 22, was awaiting the approval of two DACA applications, along with her work permit, when she was detained.
According to the Huffington Post, Vargas' DACA status had expired in November 2016. It took her until February to save the $495 needed to renew her status. That uncertainty, coupled with the circumstances surrounding her arrival to the U.S., reportedly gave ICE the legal grounds it needed to deport her. From the Times:
Ms. Vargas’s story is one of many that have circulated of families affected by immigration policies since President Trump took office. Under the visa waiver program, Ms. Vargas and her family were allowed to stay for only 90 days. By staying longer, they became ineligible for an immigration hearing, L. Patricia Ice, the M.I.R.A. legal project director, said.
Peterson argues that her case should be reconsidered, given how young she was when her parents brought her to the country.
“She was 7 years old at the time [she came to the U.S.],” she told HuffPost. “She didn’t waive those rights, her parents waived those rights. And now she’s an adult trying to assert her own rights.”
ICE declined further comment to the Huffington Post and the Times. Instead, it pointed to a statement it made to reporters on Wednesday evening.
Vargas' father and brother, who are also undocumented, had previously been arrested by ICE agents in a raid of their home on Feb. 15. She was arrested Wednesday after her car was pulled over by police. “You know what we are here for,” Peterson claims police told Vargas.
Her arrest follows a string of ICE raids across the country targeting undocumented immigrants as part of a major crackdown by the Trump administration. The White House, mired in communication and competency crises from the outset of Trump's presidency, has not settled on a consistent message about whether DACA recipients would be swept up in the raids. Already, at least three DACA recipients have been detained by ICE.
Vargas is currently being held in an ICE detention center in Louisiana. Her deportation, her lawyer told the Times, "could be in a few weeks."
Aleksander Chan is Fusion's News Director.