Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American, has been detained by Border Patrol in McAllen after attempting to board a plane to Los Angeles.
Vargas originally traveled to the border in support United We Dream (UWD) and Minority Affairs Council (MAC), a local UWD affiliate, in order to highlight the stories of refugee children who have fled countries in Central America because of increased levels of violence. The organizations have been volunteering in shelters that provide support to children and families.
Outside of the McAllen Border Patrol Station, more than 20 Dreamers and community members will today hold an action and press conference highlighting stories from mixed-status families from the border who continue living in fear and demand Vargas’ immediate release.
Speakers included Luis Maldonado, a DACAmented Dreamer from McAllen whose family is still trapped on the border, as well as Tania Chavez, an undocumented Dreamer unable to leave McAllen because of her status.
“We stand in solidarity with Jose Antonio and demand for his immediate release, but we must remember that there are thousands of people along the border that live with this same fear every day,” Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream, said, adding: “Once again, the Border Patrol has proven to be a rogue agency after arresting Jose Antonio, a low-priority case for detention and deportation.”
“Our undocumented community along the border is trapped within its own country, unable to leave and surrounded by checkpoints. It’s immoral that people aren’t free to move around the country they know as home because of a system that seeks to criminalize them.”
“United We Dream will continue to demand a vast expansion of DACA, one that eliminates age-caps that have made Jose Antonio and many other Dreamers ineligible, and one that includes the parents of Dreamers and U.S. citizens.”
Luis Maldonado, a DACA-mented Dreamer from McAllen said: “There are many people in my community, family and close friends of mine that haven’t left McAllen in years for fearing detention at one of the numerous checkpoints. I know firsthand the benefits of DACA, the simple right to drive to San Antonio without fearing family separation, and I want thousands more in my community to feel the same way.”
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a nonpartisan network made up of 53 affiliate organizations in 26 states.
UWD organizes and advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status. We seek to address the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth and believe that by empowering immigrant youth, we can advance the cause of the entire community—justice for all immigrants.