From ongoing ICE raids to the creation of the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement Office (VOICE), immigrants have reason to feel especially uneasy in the United States right now. And immigrant rights activists all over the country are speaking out against some Trump administration policies that are being viewed as incredibly xenophobic. Sparking even greater concern, 22-year-old immigrant and activist Daniela Vargas has been in ICE custody since March 1.
Vargas had spoken out about her experience as a recipient of Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and her father's and brother's imminent deportation during a televised press conference in Jackson, Mississippi. During that appearance, Vargas claimed she was protected under DACA. But, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, soon after the conference was over, Vargas was arrested by immigration agents for "visa overstay" and is now being held without bond. Her arrest seems to contradict previous Trump administration statements that DACA recipients would be exempt from increased immigration law enforcement. At the same time, Vargas' DACA status expired in November. Still, she began the reapplication in January, according to her lawyer.
According to CNN, Vargas told reporters, "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 that is very much my country."
Immigrant detained after press conference - Less than two hours after speaking out about her fears of deportati... https://t.co/Q3HVvzo1d3— The Clarion-Ledger (@clarionledger) March 1, 2017
Vargas' detention is putting even more of a spotlight on what so many undocumented immigrants in the United States are facing since Trump took office. ICE reports arresting over 680 people in the second week of February alone. And more are expected.
In his first address to the joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, Trump framed the increased enforcement as a public safety issue: "As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised."
In reality, evidence shows that immigrants commit less crimes than American-born people in the United States. Rather, families of people who live, work, and study in the United States risk being torn apart by new deportations. And now anyone who doesn't personally know an undocumented person knows Vargas and can put her face and story to the people Trump described as job thieves and criminals in his speech to Congress.
Meanwhile, Vargas, who moved with her family to America from Argentina when she was 7, and so many others are still in danger of deportation. This makes it seem as though the risks are high for immigrants who speak out against Trump administration policies. Click here to learn more about how to fight ICE raids and arrests.