UPDATE: Things seem somewhat better for Daniela Vargas, the Dreamer arrested after talking to the press about her fears of deportation.
She was given permission to leave detention on Friday, March 10, after reports suggested she would be thrown out of the country without a court hearing, Court House News reports.
Her release appears to be in response to her lawyers' petition to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
"Eventually, it appears that the petition and the logical, sensible arguments we laid out in our request … has been heard," Nathan Elmore, one of Vargas’ attorneys at Elmore & Peterson in Jackson, Mississippi told reporters.
Despite the good news, the fight isn't over for Vargas.
According to attorney Abigail Peterson, "[Vargas] was released on an order of supervision, so there is an outstanding removal order in her case." That means they could still try to deport her "at any point," she added.
Also on Friday, Federal Court decided to transfer Vargas' habeas case from Louisiana's Middle District to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her future may now rely on how this case is ruled.
UPDATE: After being detained following her speech, Daniela Vargas will be treated as a “visa waiver overstay,” allowing immigration officers to fly her to Argentina without an immigration hearing, the Guardian reports.
Vargas' legal team filed a petition challenging ICE's decision.
In a statement released by her lawyers, Vargas says she isn't to blame for having been brought to the United States as a child.
“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.”
Her father and brother had been detained on Feb. 15 in Jackson, Mississippi as the 22-year-old hid in a cupboard for hours. Armed immigration officers eventually found her and questioned her before letting her go.
Because her status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) had expired in November 2016, she had applied for renewal in mid-February. BBC reports she had to save for the $495 application fee.
Under DACA, applicants are given a two-year reprieve from deportation, allowing the immigrant to apply for a work permit — an opportunity seized by Vargas both in December 2012 and November 2014. It's unclear why she has been denied this privilege this time around.
On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Thomas Byrd said that Vargas' detention was part of a “targeted immigration enforcement action” sprung from her expired DACA status. According to Vargas' attorney, Abigail Peterson, the “mind-boggling” decision to detain someone with a pending DACA application is “very unusual.”
This contradicts President Donald Trump's own directives, which showed his "soft spot" for the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.
Vargas had spoken in front of city hall in Jackson, Mississippi, and as she was driving away, ICE officials pulled her and her friend over. She was detained on the spot, her lawyer said.
During her speech, the Dreamer talked about her fears of being deported and that staying in the United States was her dream. She came to the country when she was 7 years old with her family — they are from Argentina.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) took to Twitter to alert the public that he was looking into this “disturbing” matter and that he had requested more information on Vargas' detention from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The detainee's attorney said the young woman's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status had expired and that she was in the middle of her renewal application process to remain in the country.
During her speech, Vargas told the crowd that she decided to stop hiding in order to speak to others about her concerns. Her father and brother had recently been detained, and she said she was afraid of sharing their fate.
"Today, my father and brother await deportation while I continue to fight this battle as a Dreamer to help contribute to this country, which I feel is very much my country," she told the crowd at the press conference.
Prior to being taken by ICE, Vargas planned to move out of the state with her brother to pursue a career as a math professor.
“Now, I'm not so sure my dream will continue to develop,” she added.
Before leaving the press conference, the young Dreamer said that while a “path for citizenship is necessary for DACA recipients,” it's also necessary for “the other 11 million undocumented people with dreams."
Will Trump address this detention even after showing his “soft spot” for Dreamers when issuing new immigration directives?
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Stephen Lam