“Immigrants like Ms. Vargas just want a better life for themselves and their families and are true believers in the American dream — they should not be pushed further into the shadows.” — Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi
Before she was arrested following an immigration protest, Daniela Vargas dreamed of earning her college degree in Mississippi, then becoming a math professor and soccer mom, driving three kids around in an SUV.
Now the 22-year-old friends describe as all-American girl may be deported without a hearing to Argentina, a country she hasn’t seen since she was 7, when her parents fled a collapsing economy and violated a visa waiver program to find work in the United States.
Her attorneys said they filed a motion Friday with the Department of Homeland Security to allow Vargas, now detained in Louisiana, to remain in the U.S. until they can make her case before a judge. Meanwhile, her friends canvassed the state Capitol building, leaving notes seeking help from lawmakers.
“On behalf of Mexican nationals brought to the United States as young children by their parents, the Governors of Mexico would like to express our support and admiration for the daily struggle they endure in their effort to succeed, attain an education and shape their future and their communities’ future through hard work.”
The governors of Mexico have written to an American court to express support for a Seattle-area man who has been detained for weeks despite his participation in a federal program to protect people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
The National Conference of Governors of Mexico sent the letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue, who is overseeing the case of Daniel Ramirez Medina. Ramirez, a 23-year-old Mexican, was arrested February 10 in a Seattle suburb by immigration agents who initially arrived to detain his father, identified as a previously deported felon.
“On behalf of Mexican nationals brought to the United States as young children by their parents, the Governors of Mexico would like to express our support and admiration for the daily struggle they endure in their effort to succeed, attain an education and shape their future and their communities’ future through hard work,” the letter reads.
“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 five 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.”
A 22-year-old who was detained as she was leaving a press conference on immigrants’ rights Wednesday will not get a court hearing before she is deported, her lawyers said.
Daniela Vargas was in the process of renewing her application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama administration program that temporarily protects from deportation undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. Vargas was an aspiring math teacher who went to college while under the program. And Bill Chandler, an immigrants’ advocate who knew Vargas well, said she had a receipt showing that her application was being processed.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement on Wednesday that the action was part of “targeted immigration enforcement.” On Thursday, the lawyer Nathan Elmore said ICE had indicated it would pursue immediate deportation against Vargas without allowing her to first have a court hearing. Vargas’s lawyers have filed a petition challenging ICE’s decision.
“ICE is supposed to target undocumented immigrants who commit crimes,” said Elmore. “Convicted criminals. Daniela doesn’t fit into any of these categories. Is this where you want your tax dollars directed?”