Reports are now appearing on Twitter that journalist Jose Vargas, America’s most famous undocumented immigrant, has been released from McAllen, Texas where he was detained this morning.
After flying in to Texas to film and report on some of the children arriving at the border, Vargas supposedly realized he was going to have a problem leaving the area. He posted this moments before trying to fly out of the McAllen airport.
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) July 15, 2014
Moments later he was detained and reporters who happened to be on hand began circulating this photo of Vargas.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) July 15, 2014
From that point on Vargas’ Define American organization began a social media campaign. At one point the group sent out over 125 tweets at various organizations asking them to RT a request that President Obama use his discretion to free Vargas. Here’s an example.
— Define American (@DefineAmerican) July 15, 2014
At one point the group announced that Mayor Bill de Blasio had issued a statement favoring Vargas’ release. The statement read:
I stand in solidarity with journalist and advocate Jose Antonio
Vargas–an exemplary man whose tireless work has helped raise awareness
around the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants living on
American soil. Jose Antonio’s detainment today at a Texas airport, close
to where he was working to document the plight of refugees, shows how
our immigrant enforcement agencies are failing to use their discretion
and detaining long-time immigrants who do not pose a threat to our
security. Jose Antonio has spent most of his life in the United States,
he was educated by American schools, went on to receive a Pulitzer Prize
while working as a journalist at the Washington Post, and eventually
disclosed his undocumented status to advocate for a much-needed debate
around citizenship. He exemplifies what America is about. I call for his
quick release and hope that he can stay in the country that has been
his home and to which he has contributed so much.
As an unaccompanied child migrant myself, I came to McAllen, Texas, to shed a light on children who parts of America and many in the news media are actively turning their backs on. But what I saw was the generosity of the American people, documented and undocumented, in the Rio Grande Valley.
I’ve been released by Border Patrol. I want to thank everyone who stands by me and the undocumented immigrants of south Texas and across the country. Our daily lives are filled with fear in simple acts such as getting on an airplane to go home to our family.
With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, and President Obama weighing his options on executive action, the critical question remains: how do we define American?
Will Vargas be asked to appear in court in relation to his undocumented status? For now, he isn’t saying.