‘Dreamer’ immigrant released after arrest that followed speech at press conference

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released a young woman who was arrested by ICE agents directly after speaking at a press conference about her fear of deportation, Mississippi Today reports.

Daniela Vargas, 22, is a “dreamer”—a young person brought without authorization to the United States as a child. Her family entered the United States from Argentina when she was seven through a visa waiver program and never left, despite the 90-day limit on their presence. She had been part of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but she had let it lapse while she saved up the $495 renewal fee. When she was arrested, her application to renew was pending, as was her application for a “U” visa, which is for immigrant victims of crimes as well as families of those victims..

As CBS reported at the time, Vargas was arrested March 1 minutes after leaving a press conference at Jackson, Mississippi City Hall, where she’d spoken about the ICE arrests of her father and brother in February as she hid in a closet, WJTV reported at the time. Her attorney, Abby Peterson, told CBS that Vargas has no criminal record other than traffic violations and driving without insurance.

The case attracted attention from several immigrant rights and civil rights groups, some of which alleged that Vargas was arrested in retaliation for speaking about ICE publicly. Peterson, her attorney, teamed up with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center and others to file a habeas corpus petition (PDF) making that allegation. The petition also argues that ICE cannot legally deport Vargas without a hearing as the visa waiver program permits, because could not have knowingly and intelligently waived her right to a hearing at the age of 7.

Attorney Nathan Elmore, who is also representing Vargas, told Mississippi Today that ICE was likely exercising its discretion when it released her. However, the agency is still attempting to deport her. Mississippi Public Broadcasting says Vargas must check in with an ICE office in the state in April.

Another high-profile case regarding a DACA recipient is pending in Seattle. Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, is currently part of DACA, but he was arrested by ICE agents who came to the family’s home for his father. Agents say Ramirez admitted to gang affiliation; his attorneys say this is a lie and that paperwork clearly shows where parts of his statement were simply erased. A federal magistrate has ordered a bond hearing for Ramirez no later than Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports, and he is suing separately.




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