DREAMer arrested after speaking on immigration in Mississippi

Daniela Vargas speaks at a news conference on March 1, 2017. (Credit: WJTV via CNN)

A DREAMer was arrested Wednesday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement after speaking at a news conference on immigration in Jackson, Mississippi.

Daniela Vargas, 22, said she arrived in the United States with her family at age 7 as an undocumented immigrant from Argentina and was later classified as a DREAMer. She spoke on behalf of other DREAMers and her family. Shortly after, she was arrested by ICE officers.

On February 15, her father and brother were arrested by ICE at their home. Vargas was not taken into custody then.

Vargas said, “The path to citizenship is necessary for DACA recipients but also for the other 11 million undocumented people with dreams. Today, my father and brother await deportation while I continue to fight this battle as a Dreamer to help contribute to this country, which I feel that is very much my country.”

Vargas, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient, known as a DREAMer, said she wants to be a university math teacher.

Angela Stuesse, who said she’s a friend of Vargas,’ said her friend went to the news conference to talk out about recent ICE raids because, “She thought sharing her story might help people.”

“Daniela is a great kid. I’ve known her for 15 years since she first arrived in Mississippi,” Stuesse said.

“She was a member of the band — she plays the trombone. She got a scholarship to keep going to band for community college, but couldn’t pay for the rest of the expenses.”

According to Vargas’ attorney, Abby Peterson, Vargas’ DACA status expired in November and she reapplied in February, before her father and brother were taken into custody. Stuesse said Vargas couldn’t afford to renew her DACA status.

Peterson said Vargas has appreciated the opportunities afforded her in America, “Like so many immigrants, she doesn’t take this country for granted. She has pursued an education, she works hard, she pays her taxes. She is a very deserving individual.”

ICE confirmed Vargas is in custody, “US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took Daniela Vargas, 22, an unlawfully present Argentinian citizen, into custody March 1, during a targeted immigration enforcement action in Jackson, Mississippi.”

On its website, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services recommends that DACA recipients apply for a renewal between 150 and 120 days before their status expires.

Peterson said she has not yet spoken with Vargas but will represent her with federal authorities.