Wall Street Journal
By Alejandro Lazo
March 3, 2017
A 22-year-old undocumented immigrant who was arrested and placed in deportation proceedings shortly after speaking at a news conference this week said on Friday she would “do anything for this country” and “I don’t know anything else besides being here.”
The case of Daniela Vargas captured national attention this week after the young woman was picked up by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as she and a friend drove away from a Wednesday news conference in Jackson, Miss., where she had voiced her fear of deportation.
Her protection under an Obama administration program known as DACA—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—had lapsed, said her lawyer, Abigail Peterson.
Ms. Vargas, who was brought to the U.S. from Argentina by her family when she was seven, could be deported in a matter of weeks, Ms. Peterson said. Her attorney said Friday she plans to file an emergency stay.
ICE officials have said Ms. Vargas was taken into custody “during a targeted enforcement action” but have since declined to comment, saying the agency needed a signed privacy waiver in order to provide specific information about the case. A representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
On Friday, in a statement released through her attorney, Ms. Vargas provided more details of her life in the U.S., saying she had to “learn a whole new country” after being brought to the U.S. as a child. She said she “should be given a chance to be here and do something good and work in this economy.”
“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 5 hours,” Ms. Vargas said in a statement released by her attorney.
“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. And I barely knew that one,” she said.
Ms. Vargas said she had tried to join the military and could lead a successful life in the U.S. if given the chance, including being a music teacher, as she said she was “an excellent trumpet player.” She touted her math skills and the fact she was bilingual in English and Spanish.
“You know, there’s a lot of stuff that I can do for this country that they’re not allowing me to do,” she said. “But, I mean that’s not the point, the whole point is that I would do anything for this country.”
Ms. Peterson said she had been working with Ms. Vargas on reapplying for DACA, a program that protects young undocumented adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation and gives them work authorization.
Since DACA was introduced in 2012, about 750,000 people have benefited from the program. President Donald Trump during his campaign said he would rescind the program, but has since said he would seek a more favorable solution for its beneficiaries, who are known as “Dreamers.”
Agency officials have said they are targeting undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes including assault, murder and drug trafficking. But the agency also acknowledged picking up some immigrants they encountered during those raids who have violated federal immigration law, but not committed other crimes.
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