Jose Vargas trapped in Texas border town

Balitang America Staff, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 14, 2014

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Arguably the most popular undocumented immigrant in America, Jose Antonio Vargas, is having trouble returning home to New York from a border town in Texas.

Vargas, a Filipino-American Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, was smuggled to the US as an unaccompanied minor from the Philippines via the Pacific Ocean border, is currently in a border town in Texas trying to change the narratives of the conversation on the border crisis.

Vargas easily flew into McCallen, Texas last week to visit a shelter for unaccompanied Central American refugees.

But for undocumented immigrants like Vargas, getting out of this border town in Texas – by plane or by land – may not be easy.

In fact, according to Vargas, it might even be impossible to leave.

Security is tight in airports and immigration checkpoints are set up within a 45 mile radius of this border town.

Read about Jose Antonio Vargas’ experience in McAllen, Texas

This is where many undocumented immigrants get caught, arrested, detained and processed for deportation.

Maria Lee Cruz, the communications and engagement director for Vargas’ immigration reform campaign Define American, told Balitang America that Vargas hopes he’ll be permitted to leave McAllen by presenting his only form of identification — his Philippine passport.

Learn more about Define American

“He’s flown everywhere. So he’s going to hand his boarding pass to TSA with his Filipino passport, and we’ll see what happens from there,” Lee said in a Skype interview.

Vargas came out as an undocumented immigrant in 2011 and, so far, has escaped arrest and deportation. With millions of other undocumented immigrants in the country who aren’t as fortunate, Lee said it’s a double standard that needs to be questioned.

“Stereotypes run deep,” Lee said. “Why does he get a pass when others get profiled?”

On the possibility of Vargas being arrested or detained, Lee said: “At this point, we don’t know. The thing is, this is why we do this work. It is not just about Jose, it’s about the 11 million other undocumented people in the United States and we’ll see what happens when he tries to get through airport security.”

4 Comments on this post.

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  • JRB
    15 July 2014 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Good for him they finally caught the “BIG RAT.” First who in the hell he thinks he is god, you don’t tell us Americans that we are wrong about illegal people in America? Jose Vargas long time ago you came in to America as a young boy from the Philippines and didn’t make it right to stay in America? So go back to where you came from and come back the right way like other true Filipinos that came to America the right way? America don’t let him in to America, it’s about time we do it the right way? “GOODBYE JOSE VARGAS.”

  • Delia
    15 July 2014 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Its about time he got caught arrested and detained , hopefully this illegal criminal lawbreaker gets trown out from this country.

  • Mario
    15 July 2014 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Gov’t count 11M(5yrs ago),actual count is 30 Million illegal..Vargas is stupid, he is being used by his Fil-Amer legal defense funds. Now he is detained and still lucky, there is no straight flight from Texas to Manila. Being illegal alien, he should have been deported. His immigration Filipino lawyers are having “fiesta” another racket is created, because they have reason now to have fund raising and collect your money to help Vargas, especially from the TPS applicants.

  • noz
    17 July 2014 at 1:00 am - Reply

    well, this guy think he is like somebody as an illegal alien. in his mind, the immigration laws he violated do not apply to him. believing his illegal alien status, and being militant give him the free pass to roam around in a place where ice are too visible. ice were waiting for you. it’s about time, your were apprehended and detained.