NY Pinoys rally for immigration reform following Vargas release

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 16, 2014

NEW YORK – The McAllen Border Patrol released undocumented Filipino journalist-turned-immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas, after about eight hours of detention on Tuesday.

Vargas, who has been open about his undocumented status for years, was never caught by immigration authorities until Tuesday morning.

Armed with a pocket-sized US Constitution, boarding pass, and Philippine passport, Vargas went through McAllen airports security on his way to Los Angeles. He did not have a US visa.

US Border Patrol agents detained Vargas after he told airport TSA agents that he was in the country illegally, according to Homeland Security spokesperson Marsha Catron.

Define American Communications and Engagement Director Maria Cruz Lee said, “In McAllen, the TSA agent sits beside a Border Patrol agent, so if you hand them a passport, the Border Patrol agent automatically scans it and that’s why he got arrested.”

Vargas was then released on his own recognizance and was given a notice to appear before an immigration judge, Catron said.

“I did not anticipate it. I’ve been traveling around the country for the past three years. I’ve never been to the Texas border. I’ve been to the California border. I’ve been to Arizona,” Vargas said. “I didn’t know that Texas, you know, that border basically was within the 45 mile radius of that area is a militarized zone. I knew there were checkpoints. I always knew I could fly out because I had a Filipino passport.”

“So Jose is out. He’s not in custody anymore, he’s with friends. Unfortunately that’s all I could share at this point,” Cruz-Lee said.

In New York, dozens of Pinoy immigration reform advocates and Vargas supporters braved the rainy night and gathered at the Union Square Park Tuesday night.

Community leader and Filipino psychologist Kevin Nadal organized a candlelight vigil in support of the freed Filipino journalist.

“I think it was just very important for all of us who love Jose to come out here and show our solidarity for him, as well as to show solidarity for all the undocumented people here in the US,” said Nadal.

“The fact that he’s free doesn’t negate the fact that he was arrested at the border,” said Bea Sabino of Anak Bayan and NAFCON.

“There are two million Jose Vargases that are already deported, and there are one million Filipinos that are still undocumented,” Yves Nibungco of Anak Bayan said. “This is why we’re still here – to continue the fight and to call on the rest of the Filipino Community to stand up for Immigration Reform.”

The Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who has stood by Vargas from the beginning, said they will take the necessary actions to keep Vargas from getting deported.

“Prosecutorial discretion may be exercised by the Homeland Security – motu proprio – on their own,” FALDEF lawyer Merit Salud said. “It would be political suicide for this administration to do that, to deport him, because even the Republicans are afraid to touch him.”

Define American spokesperson says they are not commenting on Vargas’ legal proceedings at this time while Vargas has not expressed what his next moves are.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

8 Comments on this post.

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  • cat_idiot
    16 July 2014 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    bro i dont see any immigration relief sa situation mo, hopefully wag sana madaliin yun NTA sched mo…..

    • leyteboy
      16 July 2014 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Humanitarian relief and it’s judge’s discretion based on being a productive leader, not a convicted felon and he came not a fault of his own. He’ll also qualify for TPS pending approval and of course the senate version of CIR, his Pulitzer will also be considered, talagang may laban! provocation or precedent nah..go Vargas go!!!!

      • leyteboy
        16 July 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

        though I wonder if he was able to talk it out with those gun crazy right loonies… Obama knew better..

  • Filam
    16 July 2014 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    How about Americans against Immigration
    Reform

  • Mario
    16 July 2014 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Obama and Cecile Munoz(head of LaRaza)now the WH adviser for Domestic Affair, planned for the mass arrivals of Hispanic from Central America. WH will facilitate immigration reform on Hispanic only which is flooding America by the thousand, now at the Texas border.This is WH Ethnic replacement as Michael Savage said. It means to replace American white to Hispanic race. One of the reason is 78% of the Hispanic (legal and illegal) lives on welfare on their entire lives, which mean this are sure Democratic voters forever..Asian or Filipinos are hardworkers, believed on higher education and very smart.WH does not trust them because onced they learned that part of their salary(Taxes) is given to those lazy, uneducated, does not want to learn english Hispanic, they become a Republican voter. In short “Ang Pinoy ay mga BALIMBING”. So do not expect TPS any more, Vargas is a making of those Crocodile Pinoy Immigration Lawyers. Their target is to share and make only $1000each on 1 Million Pinoy illegals. To succeed, Pinoy’s need a Cecile Munoz caliber working under Obama….

  • JRB
    16 July 2014 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Vargas 90% you will be deported this time? You was given a “NOTICE” to appear before an immigration judge. I know for a fact that when you appear in front of a immigration judge? you can kiss your A$$ goodbye, your going to be deported? Bea Sabino of Anak Bayan and Nafcon your out of line by your remark by saying this is why we’re still here to continue the fight and to call on the rest of the Filipino community to stand up for immigration reform? You should be shame, who in the hell you think you are your in my home America and telling us real Filipinos that was born here in America to back up this stupid guy that don’t know what is right and wrong and broke the law of America? You and him should go to “HELL.”

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

    immigration reform is making all the wrong doings of illegal aliens to right. the supporters obviously are illegal aliens themselves. there are tons of applicants globally applying legally for green cards, which the liberals are not interested to tackle, since there are nothing to gain politically. the demonicrap party, headed by obozo, the plan is to get the hispanic votes are now evolving like a CA wildfire. obummer is the only one who can change the central america’s immigration laws loopholes, to swiftly deport these illegal aliens, but he remain defiant won’t do his job, into the blame game of his opponents who cannot change the law without the POTUS, but can release subsidy appropriations, that the POTUS cannot do under the law. as long as government is on impasse on illegal aliens, the more illegal aliens are out of control, now coming in, via planes with bogus, reproduced, unverifiable papers to let them in, in the US soil. only, GOD knows the terrorists pretending to be hispanics are all now in the US by the thousands, to blow up every single american by the thousands everywhere in the US at the same time, just like the 09-11-01, GOD HELPS THE USA. this is in the name of obozo and his demonicrap party dirty political strategy to win elections and reelections, at the expense of risking the lives of people, these liberal politicians are supposed to protect.

  • filam
    17 July 2014 at 2:34 am - Reply

    its a shame and slap to those who waited and took the legal path to migrate. a pulitzer award does not make him above the law

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