Dreamer detained after speaking out may be deported, attorney says

Daniela Vargas, 22, was taken into custody on Wednesday.

ByABC News
March 3, 2017, 1:10 AM

— -- A young woman arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in Mississippi on Wednesday could be deported as early as this week, her attorney said.

Daniela Vargas, 22, was taken into custody after speaking at a press conference in front of Jackson City Hall. Her attorney, Abigail Peterson, said Vargas is still being held and ICE is working to process her case without a court hearing.

“It could happen this week. It could take a little longer, so we’re trying hard to get her a hearing,” Peterson said.

Peterson said Vargas filed to renew her Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals status on Feb. 10 after allowing her status to expire. According to Peterson, Vargas’ latest DACA status expired in November 2016. She applied to renew in mid-February after raising money for the $495 application fee, Peterson said.

In a statement to ABC News, Thomas Byrd, an ICE spokesman, said Vargas was arrested “during a targeted immigration enforcement action in Jackson, Mississippi.”

“Every day, as part of routine targeted enforcement operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations teams arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws,” the statement continued. “ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”

ICE would not comment beyond the statement.

Vargas, who came to the U.S. from Argentina when she was 7 years old with her parents and brother, gave a speech in front of City Hall, recounting the moment ICE agents arrested her father and brother at their home on Feb. 15. Peterson believes the agents arrived in relation to an investigation into Vargas’ brother. While there, the agents put Vargas in handcuffs, Peterson said.

“They had her in handcuffs but let her go. They saw her expired documents, and she told them she was in DACA or working on DACA,” Peterson said.

Peterson said Vargas was aware she could face arrest at the press conference, since her DACA status expired.

“We had discussed the risks associated with talking to newspapers. We had spoken with her about that, and we were all working with the understanding that ICE knows her DACA is extending and they were going to let that process,” Peterson said.

According to local ABC affiliate WAPT, Vargas was driving home from the press conference with a friend when ICE agents pulled them over and arrested her.

Immigrant rights advocates are angered by Vargas’ arrest, according to Ramiro Orozco, a lawyer who set up the press conference with Vargas.

He said advocates fear ICE officials retaliated against her for speaking out.

“This seems to be the message being sent in this case,” Orozco said. “That’s why we’re concerned.”

Vargas has no criminal record other than traffic violations, according to Peterson.

"I don't understand why they don't want me," Vargas said later on Thursday according to a statement provided to ABC News by Peterson. "You know, there’s a lot of stuff that I can do for this country that they’re not allowing me to do," she added. "I’ve even tried to join the military, and I can’t do that. But, I mean that’s not the point, the whole point is that I would do anything for this country.”

ABC News’ Troy McMullen and Geneva Sands and Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.

Related Topics