Jose Antonio Vargas Is A Symbol For Immigration Reform, Not A Candidate For Deportation
Jose Antonio Vargas was brought to the U.S. at the age of 12 and never left. Now, some are suggesting he should be deported as soon as possible.
Jose Antonio Vargas has gained some degree of notoriety over the years first as a reporter and later because of the fact that he became the most publicly prominent illegal immigrant in the entire country. As a reporter he has worked for The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post, where he was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings and their aftermath in 2007. In 2011, though, Vargas penned a piece that was published in The New York Times Magazine in which he revealed that he was, in fact, living and working in the United States illegally.When he was a small child, it turns out, Vargas’s mother had sent him from The Philippines to live with his Grandparents in the United States without completing any of the paperwork necessary for him to emigrate. Vargas went to school in the U.S, graduating from a High School in California and eventually obtained a Political Science Degree from San Francisco State University, although he had already started working in journalism at that point. Since the article was published, Vargas has become something of an advocate for immigration reform and for measures such as the DREAM Act, although he was not among those people who was able to take advantage of the administrative changes that President Obama made last year for some children of illegal immigrants. Most recently, Vargas produced a documentary for CNN called Documented, which chronicles both his personal story and his efforts to advocate for immigration reform.
For some people, the most bizarre part of the story of Jose Antonio Vargas is the fact that he is still a free man. He has, after all, admitted that he is in the country illegally and now lives openly knowing that Federal law enforcement could come place him under arrest at any time. He had a close call in 2012 in Minnesota when he was arrested for a minor traffic infraction, but ICE officials declined to either detain or even charge him with a violation of the law. ICE could have picked him up then and begun deportation proceedings, or they could do it any time. The fact that they don’t seems odd when viewed from a distance, yet another example of our broken immigration system, and, for some, proof that the Obama Administration is not serious about things like border security and deporting illegal immigrants.
Vargas is back in the news now because he has gone down to the Texas-Mexico border to report on the ongoing border crisis, and in article at Politico he wonders if he’ll be able to get out of the area without running afoul of the authorities:
I write this from the city of McAllen, which sits in the Rio Grande Valley near the border, just across from the Mexican city of Reynosa. In the last 24 hours I realize that, for an undocumented immigrant like me, getting out of a border town in Texas—by plane or by land—won’t be easy. It might, in fact, be impossible.
When my friend Mony Ruiz-Velasco, an immigration lawyer who used to work in the area, saw on my Facebook page that I was in McAllen, she texted me: “I am so glad you are visiting the kids near the border. But how will you get through the checkpoint on your way back?” A curious question, I thought, and one I dismissed. I’ve visited the border before, in California. What checkpoint? What was she talking about?
Then Tania Chavez, an undocumented youth leader from the Minority Affairs Council, one of the organizers of the vigil, asked me the same question: “How will you get out of here?” Tania grew up in this border town. As the day wore on, as the reality of my predicament sunk in, Tania spelled it out for me: You might not get through airport security, where Customs and Border Protection (CPB) also checks for IDs, and you will definitely not get through the immigration checkpoints set up within 45 miles of this border town. At these checkpoints, you will be asked for documentation. (“Even if you tell them you’re a U.S. citizen, they will ask you follow-up questions if they don’t believe you,” Tania told me.)
I do not have a single U.S. government-issued ID. Like most of our country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, I do not have a driver’s license—not yet, at least. (Recently, California and Washington, D.C., passed laws granting licenses to their undocumented residents. Though New York City will start issuing municipal IDs to its undocumented population, the state of New York, where I currently live, does not issue driver’s licenses.) Identification aside, since outing myself in the New York Times Magazine in June 2011, and writing a cover story for TIME a year later, I’ve been the most privileged undocumented immigrant in the country. The visibility, frankly, has protected me. While hundreds of thousands of immigrants have been detained and deported in the past three years, I produced and directed a documentary film, “Documented,” which was shown in theaters and aired on CNN less than two weeks ago. I founded a media and culture campaign, Define American, to elevate how we talk about immigration and citizenship in a changing America. And I’ve been traveling non-stop for three years, visiting more than 40 states.
Of course, I can only travel within the United States and, for identification, when I fly I use a valid passport that was issued by my native country, the Philippines. But each flight is a gamble. My passport lacks a visa. If TSA agents discover this, they can contact CBP, which, in turn, can detain me. But so far, I haven’t had any problems, either because I look the way I do (“You’re not brown and you don’t look like a Jose Antonio Vargas,” an immigration advocate once told me), or talk the way I do—or because, as a security agent at John F. Kennedy International Airport who recognized me said without a hint of irony, “You seem so American.”
I might not be so lucky here in the valley. I am not sure if my passport will be enough to let me fly out of McAllen-Miller International Airport, and I am not sure if my visibility will continue to protect me—not here, not at the border.
Igor Bobic at The Huffington Post that Vargas’s current predicament puts the lie to claims that the southern border is unsecure:
Vargas’ story highlights some of the struggles undocumented immigrants have faced for years. But it also shows, contrary to conventional wisdom, that security at the border is anything but lax.
In fact, according to the NDN/New Policy Institute, since 2002 federal funds to secure the border have tripled and the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents has doubled to a little over 21,000. Moreover, crime along the U.S. side of the border is down, and the growth of the undocumented immigrant population has stalled in recent years. “Obama era policies have stopped the flow – which is one reason why we have the resources to be apprehending those attempting to enter the country today,” said NDN President Simon Rosenberg.
As Vargas put it, “The border is secure, that’s why these kids are getting apprehended.”
To Luis Malbonado, a DREAMer who lives near McAllen, a heightened security presence resembling an occupied military zone is all too familiar. Both his mother and sister were deported mere hours after being stopped by authorities in the city, a task made easier by their proximity to the border, he said.
“It’s been three years since I haven’t seen my mom, five years since I haven’t seen my sister. Right now there’s no way I can go and see them. I’m stuck,” he told The Huffington Post.
Malbonado said residents of the Rio Grande Valley usually encounter checkpoints every few miles, and it was common to see border patrol and state trooper cars while driving on the highway. “It is so safe and secure that both my mom and my sister were deported [from] within the city,” he added.
Malbonado also called on President Obama to visit the border, a trip that Republicans and even some Democrats have been calling for.
“He needs to come and see first hand and see what these kids look like,” he said. “They do not have tattoos on their face. They do not look like the media is portraying them. These are kids. ”
As for Vargas, the future is murky. He doesn’t intend to leave the border until he finishes his job, so he is, at least for the moment, as much a resident of McAllen as the immigrant children he came to report on.
Jazz Shaw thinks that ICE needs to pick Vargas up now:
Let’s identify why this is an important arrest for you ICE guys and gals to to make. It’s true that the White House administration has added to our current border crisis by sending mixed messages to those who would enter the country illegally. That goes without saying. But coming in a close second is this guy. He’s out there on an almost daily basis, showing up on a network which is broadcast to every nation in the world. And the message he’s sending is clear. “Look at me! I’m here illegally. I don’t have any documents. And I’m on the TeeVee! I produce films. I get paid to write columns in nationally syndicated sources. And nobody can lay a finger on me!”
Is that the message you want out there? Is this not adding to the “confusion” among Central American residents thinking of sneaking over the border? Obviously not. So here’s what you need to be doing:
– First, you need to find and arrest this guy.
– Next he needs to be put in a detention center.
– Expedite his case to the front of the line and give him a speedy hearing before a judge where it will be revealed that he has no documents allowing him to be here.
– Put him on a plane and send him back to the Philippines where he belongs.
– Hold a major press conference letting everyone in the world know that you’ve done this and repeating that you will not tolerate those who knowingly and intentionally violate our laws.
– Let Mr. Vargas go to the back of the line and apply for citizenship in the normal fashion. Given the usual wait times, we should see him again in ten to fifteen years
There is a certain logic in the argument, of course, Vargas is here illegally, he admits he’s here illegally, and every minute he stays is an ongoing violation of the law. He says that he isn’t presently breaking any laws regarding identity theft and such — although one does wonder how he gets paid for the work that he does and how he pays his bills — but he is most assuredly violating the nation’s immigration laws. Like Jazz, there are many who would argue that arresting and deporting Vargas would send a signal to others who would come here illegally, and that the law shouldn’t stand for someone who is so openly and brazenly violating the law. Vargas is a criminal, and arresting and prosecuting criminals is what law enforcement is supposed to do, right?
While those are all valid arguments, it just doesn’t strike me that Vargas is someone who ought to be a target for an immigration enforcement system that is already overburdened, and likely to become more so thanks to the ongoing border crisis. Like many people who are in a similar position, Vargas was brought to this country as a child and thus had no say in whether or not he wanted to become an illegal immigrant to the United States. Since graduating High School, he’s gotten an education, been gainfully employed, won a prestigious journalism award, and had produced work that has employed many other people. He’s apparently never been on public assistance and, outside of things related to his immigration status, he has never committed a serious crime, and most certainly has never committed a violent crime. He has also become an important part of the public debate on a very important issue. Regardless of whether or not he has a piece of paper saying he is in the country legally, is this really someone that we ought to be prioritizing as a candidate for deportation? I find it hard to say that the answer to this question is yes. In fact, I’d argue that Vargas is precisely the kind of illegal immigrant that we ought to want to grant legal status to so that he can more fully participate in the economy and the public life of his adopted country. Rather than being a walking advertisement for deportation, he strikes me as more of a walking advertisement for why comprehensive immigration reform is necessary. There are many people in Vargas’s position, he just happens to be the most prominent, public example.
The fact that Federal authorities have not apprehended Vargas in the three years since he went public is, I think, telling. There isn’t any rational or practical reason why they couldn’t, so the only logical conclusion is that someone has made the decision that Vargas is not a priority at this time. In part, this is due to the fact that the immigration hearing system is already overburdened and authorities have generally made the choice to concentrate their deportation efforts on people with violent criminal records and gang connections. Granted, not everyone who is deported fits these criteria, but based on reports this does seem to be the category of immigrants that ICE has prioritized. That choice makes sense for rather obvious reasons I would think. If you have limited resources, it make sense to concentrate your efforts on the illegal immigrants who are the source of real problems for society rather than people like Vargas who not only aren’t really harming anyone and, arguably, are a net benefit to society. An additional factor that likely argues against bringing Vargas in, of course, is the fact that it would be an incredibly powerful spotlight on a system that is already dysfunctional. No doubt, if ICE arrested Vargas you’d see reports on the matter from many quarters of the media, most especially the outlets he has worked at previously and CNN, where he is becoming a frequent commentator on immigration issues.
Yes, Jose Antonio Vargas is here illegally. That doesn’t mean he should be deported, though. Instead, I’d suggest it means that we need to fix our immigration laws so that people like him aren’t constantly living in fear of being detained by ICE and sent back to a country that they have no real connection to other than the accident of birth,
Normally I would agree with you for all the reason you gave, but if he is holding himself up to other as an example, telling them that he didn’t need documentation and neither do they, then I say deport him. Five or six years ago I was in communication with a Christian fellow in Indonesia, and he and his family had been waiting to come to America for years. My guess is that he is still waiting. What is he supposed to think when he sees a fellow like Vargas? He might think that it is fellows like Vargas and others like him who are dragging out his legal immigration. He might think that Vargas and others who illegally walk to the head of the line are taking up spaces intended for legal immigrants.
Totally OT, but Lorinl Maazel just died.
While most illegals keep their heads down, obey the laws (other than those pertaining to immigration), work hard to support their families here and back at home, they spend every day hoping that they don’t get caught and deported.
Mr. Vargas, on the other hand, is pretty much holding up his two middle fingers to the law. What makes him more special than any other person brought here under much the same circumstances? What makes him more special than all the people all over the world that have been waiting, patiently, to immigrate legally? Is his job more important than that of the guy that mows your lawn? How about the young woman that cleans your hotel room? Does being a talking head on a cable network make him immune from the law?
He needs to go back to the Philippines and get in line behind all of the people in his country that have been waiting, many for a decade or more, to come to the United States and forge a new life.
That is the best argument I can see for him to be arrested. A sympathetic figure that has connections and can write well documenting the situation from the inside would be a powerful tool to move comprehensive immigration reform to the front burner.
Nothing and they shouldn’t be deported either.
He can’t be an illegal…he’s an intelligent functioning contributing member of society…not one of those “others”.
You’re both acting like he came here willingly, by choice. He was brought here when he was a child. He had absolutely no say in the matter. He has grown up in this country, and made a life for himself. What would sending him back to the Philippines accomplish?
It would open up a space for a US citizen journalist. But seriously, the comment explains why he needs to go, but what is your counterargument?
It would accomplish that feeling of righteousness that some folks get when their idea of justice and compassion are meted out.
It would make bitter, angry people feel better?
Typical right wing thinking. There is only so much pie, so the peons get to fight for the crumbs.
It never occurs to you guys to bake a bigger pie. (you know, the concept that made America great…)
“It would open up a space for a US citizen journalist.”
Seriously? There is a U.S. citizen journalist out there somewhere who can’t write about illegal immigration from the point of view of having lived in the U.S. for years without legal documentation because Jose Antonio Vargas is blocking him? And if Jose Antonio Vargas were deported to the Philippines, this U.S. citizen journalist could do the writing Vargas has been doing?
Because that’s how journalism works.
Really? Your argument is “immigrants are takin our jerbs?” That’s actually really funny.
My counterargument was given in my comment. He was brought here as a child. He had no say in the matter. He has been here most of his life and has established that he can make a living and is not a criminal (other than his existing as an undocumented immigrant). That is enough reason in my mind not to deport him.
And anyone else who didn’t get it:
It was a joke.
Our society is at great risk, if Obama and the Democrats get their way, drug cartels, human traffickers and dangerous criminals will flow freely through our borders and fill our neighborhoods, because he will not stem the tide with the National Guard. Prior to even Obama’s Imperial reign, borders have never been fully sealed, with the 2006 Secure Fence Act that was sabotaged by GOP former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson for some obscure reason; probably as her corporate cronies didn’t like it. Now we are suffering the consequence. Absolutely we should build 700 miles of double or even triple fences, as the massive costs would be reimbursed from not having to financially support 11 to 20 million plus illegal aliens? Think about it!
There is no accurate way to figure the actual numbers of foreign nationals; they hide away from Census takers. Obama cannot be trusted anymore. He has no intention of securing our borders or is unlikely to enforce the border with ‘boots of the ground’. Under ARTICLE 1, Section 10 of the US Constitution: No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
WELL TEXAS AND THE BORDER STATES HAVE BEEN INVADED BY THOUSANDS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS, WITH LARGE NUMBERS OF 14 TO 18 YEAR OLDS, DISPLAYING ON THEIR BODIES M-13 GANG MEMBERSHIP AND WITH WITHIN THOSE NUMBERS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS CARRYING NASTY CONTAGIOUS DISEASES, SO THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO PROTECT THEMSELVES BY WHATEVER MEANS:
The House Democrats are growing progressively more disturbed about GOP voice in revising the 2008 human trafficking law in a trade for approving the President $3.7 billion emergency funding appeal to address the illegal alien crisis at the Mexican/US border. Of course the Liberals have no intentions of consenting to these efforts and will fight for passage of what they call a “clean” supplement as without the amendment; as it means more Dem voters in the future years, and hundreds of thousands of early petitions for family members brought into the country, by current policies. This will accrue even more poverty, more benefits upon the already hard pressed taxpayers who will get the bill. The National Tea Party candidates would never hesitate to amend 2008 law, unlike the OLD GUARD in the establishment. Social Security is already running into trouble, along with Medicare in the future as nothing has been done for three decades to stop this roaring financial locomotive towards unsure losses in the future. Yet Obama is striving to gain headway, on bringing more poor into the country?
He is a fraud and a liar having betrayed the American people other than those vermin who idolize him for free handouts of unrestricted food stamps. Obama is pressing for an amnesty plan that is a danger to our national security. People from the Middle East and our destruction in mind are arriving with those people from Mexico, El Salvador Honduras and Guatemala. Democrats are going to try and pass an amnesty bill while no one’s looking, at a late night session before Congress closes shop vacation time; by presidential executive order. These new waves of illegal aliens are affecting the thin line of defense on the border, straining resources and the worst is yet to come?
That without visible signs of the military patrolling, the open areas without barriers the numbers of unknowns will accelerate. The President and his cohorts think the answer is taxing us even more, to pay for anybody who makes it across either border. Mexico is not our friend, and they will not enforce their side of the border. We are a foolish people who trust the words of our lawmakers, who do one thing and then double-cross us. We need to rid ourselves of this Liberal Progressive President, who cannot be countered for the scandals on his watch.
People need to get off their rears and voice their anger against the most anti-American president in the history of our country. He has allowed 36,000 alcohol-abusing, drug addicted, sexual predators, Murderers and hit and run uninsured animals and other criminals to flood our streets; where our children walk.-and millions more are coming if Obama gets his way with amnesty. We just can’t let that happen or we will be living in a fear 24/7, paying taxes just to pay for the poor of the world who feed off hardworking Americans. Obama says amnesty will make our communities safer—that is a flat-out LIE! You will never read the truth in the mostly Liberal leaning newspapers. The political polls have fooled the gullible. Read some of the people’s commentary in thousands of newspapers encompassing this country and learn the truth, not the main columns of false information. Indeed, even the polls have a Liberal-elective point of view, unless you read Polls such Rasmussen Reports. Our nation is being invaded each day, but until now the truth has been hidden, unless you ask the ranchers and property owners in the Border States who suffer each day from criminal activity. If it costs a hundred billion dollars to hermetically seal the border tight, it would be well worth it in the end.
What a bogus argument! If he is so successful, why hasn’t he at least hired an immigration lawyer and go through the process LEGALLY starting with getting a legal VISA?
I’ll tell you why: because then his argument for folks to gain amnesty simply by virtue of them being here already falls apart and taking the legal route would be shown as the valid, preferred process, that’s why.
As I stated, I would ordinarily agree with Doug, and you, that he should not be deported, for all the reason he gave and you restated. However, if he is holding himself up — and I am not sure he is — as a poster boy for flouting our immigration laws with impunity, sending a message of encouragement to others to break the law and sending a disheartening message to those awaiting legal immigration, then let’s deport him. It would send the message that you do not mock the laws of the country that took you in. Mostly though it would send the message that our laws must be obeyed, and it would give encouragement to those trying to come here legally.
@Dave Francis: ” If it costs a hundred billion dollars to hermetically seal the border tight, it would be well worth it in the end”
That’s right! A hundred billion dollars is nothing if it means we get to stay pure and white!!!!
I hope you run for president on this platform.
@Another Mike: So what you’re saying is we welcome illegal immigrants as long as they keep their mouths shut and do the jobs Americans don’t want to do for less than minimum wage. But if one of them ever dares suggest they deserve to be treated like human beings, toss them out on their asses.
@Another Mike: “It would send the message that you do not mock the laws of the country that took you in”
By the way, do you believe that the part of the First Amdendment guaranteeing freedom of speech doesn’t apply to people you don’t like, or simply to mocking the laws of the country?
@wr: UM, No. Fine the employer paying less than minimum wage because he’s braking the law. Deport the “employee” because he has no legal basis to be here.
@ Another Mike
No one ever told you jokes are supposed to, you know, be funny?
That aside, giving some of the nonsense you post here, I have no problem believing that is really what you think.
You could have stopped there and saved yourself the effort. I certainly did.
But then the question is: Would Mr. Vargas support the idea of keeping anyone out of the U.S.? Or does Mr. Vargas actually support the free movement of people in the world and would support the idea that 100 million plus third world residents should be allowed to come to the U.S?
Even Comprehensive immigraiton reform promises to keep some people out of the U.S. and would not allow the next generation of Jose Antonio Vargas’s to come to the U.S. I fail to understand how passing a form of amnesty will make up for all of the policy failures of the past and prevent more policy failures in the future.
He’s written plenty on the subject, why don’t you read what he has to say?
@Alex David: “Deport the “employee” because he has no legal basis to be here.”
All the multiple millions of them?
Wow, that crazy guy’s $100 billion is looking like a bargain!
@superdestroyer: “But then the question is: Would Mr. Vargas support the idea of keeping anyone out of the U.S.? Or does Mr. Vargas actually support the free movement of people in the world and would support the idea that 100 million plus third world residents should be allowed to come to the U.S?”
If that’s your question, why don’t you ask him? He can’t be all that hard to find. Then you can report back here what you’ve found out. And maybe you’ll make a new friend!
@wr: Yeah it’s too bad he’s not in a profession where he might write down his opinions on these matters or appear on tv or in documentaries to discuss the issues and someone could look them up in Google.
That was the joke??? But seriously,..you and Rupert Pupkin.
Dave Francis is whack.
Um, this has been going on for some time now.
Nobody cares what your guess is. Why don’t you do some research and find out.
Then you might have something to gripe about. Or not.
My advice to your Christian friend is to convert to the Pastafarian Church and he can pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the United States Immigration policy changes to allow Mr. Vargas and him to become US Citizens. I’m certain it will be as effective as a plea to Jesus or Allah or YHVH.
He cannot legally work in the United States.
So go after his employers.
No future employer can even pretend ignorance about his immigration status; it’s his whole schtick now. Make it clear that anyone who hires him, in violation of US labor laws, will be fined to hell and back.
Unfortunately we have run out of ingredients to make a bigger pie.
Mr. Vargas is very careful to never say what his position on immigraiton is. http://www.defineamerican.com/stories
He does what almost all progressive activist do, he just wants to “talk” about the issue knowing that progressive will dominate the conversation and push toward open borders.
Also, Mr. Vargas has supported FWD.us that has pushed for open borders. I am sure that Mr. Vargas wants open borders and the free movement of people in and out of the U.S. put just does not openly say it. That he avoids saying anything other than immigration needs to be reformed to help every sob story there is, shows that he wants to let everyone into the U.S. who wants to come here.
Thus, the real question is why do so many progressives want to drive the standard of living in the U.S. to the point that people in Mexico or the Philippines will no longer want to come here?
For those that complain about the ongoing “crime” of being in the country illegally – unless you’ve been previously deported it’s a civil violation, similar to not paying your state’s sale taxes on your internet purchases or popping the water restrictor out of your shower head. As for “how does he work here”, he probably got a SSN as a kid, and as a journalist he probably sells the product of his work, and is not an employee.
I have to admit, I find his stand odd, daring the government to go after him. Still no reason to indulge him and make him a martyr for the cause. As for the political commentators asking for his immediate deportation, I think asking for your opponents to be put in front of a judge and send to where they belong sets a bad precedent for future political dealings, especially if your side doesn’t look like the long-term favorite.
@Mu: I have to admit, I find his stand odd, daring the government to go after him.
It’s not so odd. He’s offering himself as a human shield. He’s challenging our willingness to enforce our laws.
I’m also curious as to how he gets around with no legal ID. He can’t drive, he can’t rent a car, he can’t get on an airliner…
He might gotten a driver’s license years ago, before immigration status was checked. He’s been here since the 80s. And you don’t need paperwork for renewal. And other than border airports there’s no ICE to check immigration status if you’re boarding an airplane with a foreign passport for in-country flights. So I’m not too surprised he usually gets around quite easily.
The cost of freedom. You can have a German system where everyone has to register his primary residence with the state, and has to carry a state issued ID all the time. Or you can have the freedom of doing what you want, at the price that so does everybody else.
This report about Mr. Vargas, his status, eligibility for re consideration of legal residency, contribution the the US, etc. is all a waste of time. There is NO ONE of any import interested in changing Mr. Vargas’ status. He is deemed to be here, and by being here, is deemed suitable to stay. In fact, anyone who can get here is deemed suitable for residency, and drop the nonsense about “illegal” and “legal”.
We (Broadly, not universally) no longer care to be bothered with judging whether people ought to live in the United States, or how they live, or whether their presence is a net plus to the nation, or even that a nation is a desirable concept to entertain or defend. We want a lifestyle that is a lot more materially comfortable than is available in the places (not really nations anymore, just area on a map) that most people on Earth live without considering whether that is possible if we simply allow and encourage as many as want to come here to actually come here and disperse into the population.
Wealthy people, well-connected people will enjoy all of this new existence. They do not live or have to deal with the mess that is making, and have the assets to last a long, long time in various comfortable cocoons. The hard working middle class will be ok for a while yet, it is a big country, and can move to keep ahead of the wave that is breaking.
The worst part of this all is that poor people, uneducated people, not-so-smart people will see their already (by American standards) meager existences spoiled, and no one of any import will care. I hope it does not get as ugly as I think it will, but hope is a poor policy guide.
You and Charles Holland Duell…Oh, Wait. Maybe not.
@Mu: He might gotten a driver’s license years ago, before immigration status was checked.
I just did a very little bit of checking. From Wikipedia:
So he never had a legal driver’s license. He used a fake one. He used several fake documents.
@Mu: He actually had an Oregon license (obtained fraudulently, as he was a California resident) but was going to expire when he was 30. He obtained a Washington license, which was revoked in 2011 for non-residency after he told his story in the Times. He was arrested for driving without a license in 2012, but apparently ICE declined to deport. Lucky man.
I’m strongly in favor of comprehensive immigration reform that would enable people in Vargas’ position to stay (and many others to come and stay as well). However, until that happens, I do think that Vargas should be deported. Equality before the law is an incredibly important principle, and right now, Vargas is getting a pass purely because he has connections, notoriety, education and resources. It’s pure classism – he gets to openly flout the law while millions of people from lower socio-economic classes get deported.
Vargas also brings to light another aspect. there is no truth in “just a violation.” Being an illegal alien is only a violation, but to remain in the US and continue being “just an illegal alien” demands an ongoing series of other violations of the law. You have to keep piling up more and more violations to remain in the US.
Vargas has used fake IDs and violated numerous other laws, and freely admits it.
This leads to the perverse case where there are actually circumstances where is it more advantageous to be an illegal alien than a citizen or a legal alien.
Get caught driving without a license? If you’re here legally, it’s a big problem. You’re going to get hounded and punished. If you’re here illegally, then it’s pretty much “catch and release.”
Vargas has repeatedly boarded planes with false identifications. That’s a major deal for most people, but not an illegal alien.
Don’t pay your income taxes? Work under the table? Big trouble with the IRS — unless you’re an illegal alien.
I shouldn’t have to spell things out this bluntly, but when the same laws are applied unequally based on legal immigration status, and it’s harsher on those here legally, that’s a very, very bad thing.
BTW, Vargas has just been detained for trying to board a plane without a valid ID.
Will he be treated just any legal alien would under similar circumstances, or will he get preferential treatment and released? Or allowed to board the plane without valid ID?