BA Exclusive: Vargas’ family prayed for his release

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 15, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. – News of the high-profile undocumented Filipino José Antonio Vargas being detained in McAllen, Texas has reached his family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Vargas’ aunt, Aida Abaga Rivera, was in regular correspondence with Vargas prior to his detention.

And while she knew security was tight in the border town, news of her nephew’s detention still came as a shock.

“It was like a bomb that fell on me,” said Rivera. “I didn’t expect it to be that way. That would be the worst case scenario that we would know of, but I didn’t expect it to happen that way. Maybe they would just take him for questioning and let him go after that. But to detain him is unexpected.”

textRivera says they’ve been worried for Vargas who kept reassuring them that he was safe through emails, texts, and Facebook updates.

“I would ask him how he is and he would say he’s fine and not to worry about him,” said Rivera. “He would always say, ‘don’t worry about me, I’m OK, I’m fine.’ But sometimes I doubt about his situation because knowing how it is at McAllen, Texas so I still have a fear or doubt about his situation.”

Since Vargas publicly came out about his status in a New York Times magazine article in 2011, his family has supported him and his advocacy to fight for the rights of undocumented immigrants.

“We would tell him to lay low and take it easy, slow it down, and not to be involved too much,” said Rivera. “But this child, Jose, his desire is so strong. His desire to help people, the undocumented people, and his concern is always there. I would consider him a gift from God. He is really a very worthy person to have. He makes us proud.”

Rivera says she remains hopeful that her nephew will get through this tough situation.

“I will be praying hard for him,” said Rivera. “I will ask the Lord for his guidance so Jose would be free from any trouble that he would be able to get out of the situation he is in and continue his crusade.”

While this is devastating news for the family, they currently have no plans in case Vargas has to return to the Philippines. They are confident that he will be released some time soon.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at for more information.

3 Comments on this post.

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  • Delia
    15 July 2014 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Hey Vargas ! dont you have a copy of the constitution of the Philippines? If you believes in the US Constitution, why you violating it? The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection of law for anyone in the US. Therefore, why do you he think you can violate US laws and not be prosecuted and American citizens cannot violate the law without being prosecuted?

  • JRB
    15 July 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Hey your gone, you was thinking that we Americans can’t do anything to you? Your not special your a nobody. So go back to the Philippines and make things “RIGHT.” Come to America like the true Filipinos that came to America the right way. It’s about time you got caught. GoodBye go back where you from ! Or don’t forget to read the U.S. Constitution while you waiting to come back to America in 20 years from now !

  • noz
    17 July 2014 at 12:46 am - Reply

    it’s time for him to face the immigration judge. it’s time for thorough investigations of his entering america with bogus papers at the age of 12. being he was minor when he entered the USA, it poses suspicions his family are into defrauding the US government, with thorough investigations will expose if improprieties were committed by other members of his families, since he had admitted his uncle was the one who produced fake papers for him to enter the USA. his uncle should go to jail, fined for defrauding the US government. he should be deported, maybe may reapply legally. allowing him to stay is the baddest example creating more mess, giving illegal aliens the upper hands to defy the existing immigration laws. this breed of illegal aliens are too vulgar, demanding immigration reforms to fit their desires of rewards legalizing all their illegalities are the most disgusting, offending law abiding americans.