(JACKSON, Miss.) — A young woman arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in Mississippi on Wednesday could be deported as early as this week, her attorney says.
Daniela Vargas, 22, was taken into custody after speaking at a press conference in front of Jackson City Hall. Her attorney, Abigail Peterson, said Vargas is still being held and ICE is working to process her case without a court hearing.
“It could happen this week, it could take a little longer so we’re trying hard to get her a hearing,” Peterson said.
Peterson said Vargas filed to renew her Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status on Feb. 10 after allowing her status to expire. According to Peterson, Vargas’ latest DACA status expired in November 2016. She applied to renew in mid-February after raising money for the $495 application fee, Peterson said.
In a statement to ABC News, Thomas Byrd, an ICE spokesperson, said Vargas was arrested “during a targeted immigration enforcement action in Jackson, Mississippi.”
“Every day, as part of routine targeted enforcement operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations teams arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws,” the statement continued. “ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”
ICE would not comment further beyond the statement.
Vargas, who came to the U.S. from Argentina when she was 7 years old with her parents and her brother, gave a speech in front of city hall in which she recounted the moment ICE agents arrested her father and brother at their home on Feb. 15. Peterson believes the agents came in relation to an investigation into Vargas’ brother. While there, the agents also put Vargas in handcuffs, Peterson said.
“They had her in handcuffs, but let her go. They saw her expired documents and she told them she was in DACA or working on DACA,” Peterson said.
Peterson also said Vargas was aware she could face arrest at the press conference since her DACA status was no longer in effect.
“We had discussed the risks associated with talking to newspapers, we had spoken with her about that and we were all working with the understanding that ICE knows her DACA is extending and they were going to let that process,” Peterson said.
According to local ABC affiliate WAPT, Vargas was driving home from the press conference with a friend when ICE agents pulled them over and arrested her.
Immigrant rights advocates are angered by Vargas’ arrest, according to Ramiro Orozco, a lawyer who set up the press conference at which Vargas spoke.
Orozco said advocates fear ICE officials retaliated against Vargas for speaking out publicly.
“This seems to be the message being sent in this case,” Orozco said. “That’s why were concerned.”
Vargas has no prior criminal record other than traffic violations, according to Peterson.
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Recent posts in National News