By Arturo R. García
Former journalist and immigrant rights advocate Jose Antonio Vargas was arrested and released within the course of a day by Border Patrol officials in McAllen, Texas, where he has gone in support of the thousands of young undocumented immigrants who have made their way to the U.S. from Central America.
“I was released today because I am a low priority and not considered a threat,” Vargas told the New York Times after being released. “I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are not a threat either.”
Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who revealed in 2011 that he was also living in the country without documentation, was arrested for failing to have a U.S. visa while attempting to board a flight from McAllen to Houston. He posted this picture shortly before being arrested:
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) July 15, 2014
The brief detention came a day after Vargas said in a CNN interview he did not expect to be treated differently from other immigrants because of his activist status.
“Why the double standard?” Vargas said. “When I outed myself three years ago, my goal is to say I’m one of the 11 million [undocumented] people. I’m not asking for special treatment, I’m not asking for there to be any double standard. The government is doing that.”
Vargas, who recently released the semi-autobiographical film Documented through CNN films, also released a statement via Define American, his advocacy group:
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?