Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and prominent undocumented immigrant activist, was arrested on Tuesday after attempting to board a plane out of McAllen, Texas.
United We Dream, an immigration advocacy group, captured this picture of the activist being detained. A person who accompanied Vargas to the airport told HuffPost that Vargas handed his Philippines passport to a TSA agent, who asked if he was traveling with a visa.
Vargas was not.
From Think Progress:
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at the McAllen, Texas airport require travelers to carry visas as well government-issued identification cards. Vargas only had aFillipino passport and a copy of the Constitution. TSA officials turned Vargas over to the Border Patrol where he remains detained.
Before being detained, Vargas was directed toward one of the 21,000 border patrol agents who have the border region on lockdown. The agent asked Vargas two or three questions, placed him in handcuffs and escorted him to the McAllen border patrol station for more questioning, according to the source.
Earlier this week, Vargas traveled to McAllen with United We Dream to document the unaccompanied children crisis, but only found out once he got there that he would have to encounter Border Patrol checkpoints. Generally, officials at these checkpoints ask for documentation and follow-up questions, whch some organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has derided for violating the Fourth Amendment. Although the initial intent for these checkpoints was designated for the specific purpose of border security, checkpoints can also extend at least 100 miles inland.
Vargas was a year too old to qualify for the 2012 presidential initiative known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which means that he cannot apply for U.S. government-issued identification in his home state of New York. Still, according to federal administration memos on prosecutorial discretion, Vargas should be considered a low-priority case and thus should not be detained.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.