ICE Decides Not to Detain Jose Antonio Vargas
By Damian Morden-Snipper on 10/07/2012 @ 06:00 PM
Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former reporter for the Washington Post, was arrested by Minnesota police on Friday for a traffic violation. Although Vargas publicly disclosed his undocumented status last year in a moving piece in the New York Times, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refused to issue a request to the police to detain him for possible deportation.
One question that comes to mind as I read about his arrest and ICE’s response: what if he weren’t a well-known, well-connected journalist – would ICE have refused to detain and possibly deport him? I wrote last week about the problems with immigration enforcement programs like Secure Communities, which the Minnesota police who arrested Vargas followed when they ran his information through the ICE database. Vargas himself would probably agree that were he not famous, he would most likely have been detained and deported like many others, despite the fact that he posed no danger to public safety.
The fact that someone as well-known and successful as Vargas is still vulnerable to deportation brings up another question: how much longer will the United States maintain an immigration system that punishes and stigmatizes people like Vargas? Everyone deserves an opportunity to work hard and fulfill their potential. The restrictions on the number of people allowed into the United States, and for what purpose, limit that opportunity. Vargas’s story – like those of many others – underscores the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform, and a more welcoming attitude toward immigrants.