Immigration | Jose Antonio Vargas | News | Texas

Gay Journalist and Immigration Activist Jose Antonio Vargas Detained by Border Patrol in Texas

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Jose Antonio Vargas, the openly gay Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who came out as an “undocumented immigrant” in a high-profile piece in the New York Times back in June 2011, was detained earlier this morning by U.S. Boarder Patrol agents in McAllen, Texas.

The Washington Post reports:

Jose Antonio VargasDefine American, the nonprofit U.S. immigration-reform campaign founded by Vargas, announced the detainment. In a statement Tuesday, Define American campaign director Ryan Eller said: “This morning, Mr. Vargas attempted to board a plane to Los Angeles, where we are scheduled to screen our film ‘Documented.’ Mr. Vargas did not make it through security at the airport. Our understanding is that he is currently being questioned by border patrol. The community leaders standing with me work with constituents and live this reality each and every day.”

Eller called on President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “to exercise prosecutorial discretion and immediately release Jose Antonio Vargas from Customs and Border Protection custody.”

White House and U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesmen declined to discuss the detention further however. 

The Post adds:

Last week, shortly after his film, “Documented,” aired for the first time on CNN, Vargas wrote in a Politico magazine piece that he’d gone to the U.S.-Mexico border “to visit a shelter for unaccompanied Central American refugees and participate in a vigil in their honor.” He wrote: “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.”

Vargas was held for 8 hours, according to the Washington Post. He was ordered to appear before an immigration judge.

[photo via Twitter]

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  1. Deport him and all the rest. If he doesn't like it he can blame his criminal grandfather.

    Posted by: Truther | Jul 15, 2014 6:36:43 PM

  2. Curious, Truther, which tribe is it that you are descended from?

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 15, 2014 7:00:45 PM

  3. @Truther

    What country are we sending you to? Unless you are Native American, then go back to your own country, leave everything you have stolen from Americans, and when you are in your real native land you can thank your criminal ancestors for it. You don't deserve to be here any more than Vargas, so get the hell out.


    Posted by: Chlorogoth | Jul 15, 2014 7:01:35 PM

  4. He's already been released per his twitter account.

    Posted by: Brian W. | Jul 15, 2014 7:11:49 PM

  5. Boarder control? Is that some kind of rent control?

    Posted by: bernard | Jul 15, 2014 7:12:27 PM

  6. What "Truther" suggests we do is exactly what Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and the Nazis did: blame children for the transgressions of their parents. We are a better country than that. We even let heartless, psychopathic racists like "Truther" walk around free without their medications.

    Posted by: RWG | Jul 15, 2014 7:15:54 PM

  7. Sounds like he got what he wanted, I just hope the ordeal ends positively for him all immigrants.

    Posted by: fireblazes | Jul 15, 2014 7:28:46 PM

  8. As an immigrant, I certainly identify with some of the challenges of "assimilation" identified by Mr. Vargas in his 2011 NYT Magazine article whereby he "outed" himself as an undocumented alien. However, my sympathy goes no further. Indeed, let's leave aside all other laws broken as a result of all the forged papers and lying on official documents for a second, how is it possible that US ICE has NOT managed to detain and deport Mr. Vargas in the intervening three years? Is it because of his "visibility," which one can argue he's flaunting in the face of ineffectual law enforcement? If so, and especially so, I cannot support the notion that his case is any different from other paperless immigrants who dream the American dream and work equally hard. Until the system is reformed and new laws are passed, all existing rules must be applied to all equally in order to gain any legitimacy and stem further illegal flows of aliens. Otherwise, everyone will play the odds as if they were in Vegas. Mr. Vargas's celebrity status is no shield; deport him.

    Posted by: NewAmsterdam | Jul 15, 2014 8:07:41 PM

  9. Deport him. Being gay and being a journalist doesn't give an illegal alien a free pass. All deportees should lose any chance of ever entering the country legally based on their previous illegal activity. My grandfather came legally and was processed at Ellis Island. There were immigration laws then and they were enforced.

    Posted by: Terry | Jul 15, 2014 8:07:51 PM

  10. Mr. Towle must love his right wing his site has become. Whatever makes you $$$, eh Andy?

    Posted by: Tyler | Jul 15, 2014 8:13:27 PM

  11. Everybody cut the caca. Mexico, the central American nations, South American nations ALL have rigid immigration laws and if course birder controls. Why would the U.S. be any different? They treat 'undocumented' harshly. We Americans are pussycats by comparison. You can't have anarchy and chaos at the borders and across the country because a large number of people have decided they have the right to enter the U.S. ILLEGALLY and then demand they be treated with kid gloves. What kind of childish BS is this? And much of the 'children' are teenagers, especially young men and some yoing women, some of them pregnant. This is a effing disaster and obviously was carefully planned and coordinated. By whom and for what reason(s)? I'm not sure, but have my suspicions.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 15, 2014 8:16:37 PM

  12. truther

    the majority of caucasian americans have ancestors who either came illegally or committed an illegal act by lying about their, criminal background, name, religion, education, country of origin etc when they came to ellis island

    Posted by: Moz's | Jul 15, 2014 8:22:53 PM

  13. Why is this even news? If I were trying to travel around another country without a valid passport or visa, I would expect to be detained and/or deported. Why even have passports, visas and residency/citizenship if it is going to mean nothing?

    Posted by: Rob | Jul 15, 2014 8:33:35 PM

  14. All illegal aliens should be deported NOW or stopped from entering the country-they are not undocumented migrants- they are people who are sneaking into the USA to live off our taxes. Seriously folks who do you think is going to take care of all those kids ? Mrs Obama?!

    Posted by: jarago | Jul 15, 2014 8:47:09 PM

  15. @MOZ,

    LIE. And not only is it bald faced lie, but I'll add that they didn't get to latch on to our extensive social services like we have today because it didn't exist. You had to be sponsored by a citizen and that sponsor was liable for the immigrant's welfare if they had trouble making a living, in fact you were expected to have employment arranged. And if you had health problems, you'd either be turned back or quarantened where your health either improved, or you died. There are many mass graves where sick immigrants (99% white European) died and were buried.

    Stop eith the BS lies, Moz.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 15, 2014 9:05:04 PM

  16. News reports in my area report hundreds of children and young adults, illegal (undocumented) have caused city and social services for city about 20 miles from me to be on the verge of collapse. These people are destitute, have health problems, and what I found incredible, were described as illiterate in Spanish and of course English. They are attempting to put the older teenagers into high school with remedial help!

    And lets cut to the chase: THERE ARE FEW IF ANY JOBS FOR THESE PEOPLE. This is not 19th or early 20th century America. Our economic growth is enemic and we are a post-industrial society.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 15, 2014 9:13:19 PM

  17. Clearly, those who were brought to the US as children and spent their formative years here should be allowed to stay. Doing otherwise would be cruel and vindictive. On the other hand, it would be incredibly irresponsible to allow unaccompanied minors apprehended crossing the border to stay. That would only encourage many more parents to send their kids on that illegal and very dangerous journey. What about those who came to the US illegally as adults and spent many productive years here? Allow them to stay only if they pay very hefty fines of at least a year's wages. They shouldn't gain an advantage by jumping the queue. Most importantly, fine the hell out of people who hired them. Crackdowns on underage drinking are always most effective when enforcement concentrates on bars and liquor stores, not the teenagers buying the alcohol, who have very little to lose compared to the businesses.

    Posted by: Merv | Jul 15, 2014 9:15:33 PM

  18. @ Moz: It's absurd to claim that the "majority" of caucasian Americans "lied" their way into the country. Some certainly did; and those that were caught were subject to.....being deported. Because they did not have a right to enter the country illegally.

    @CHLOROGOTH: It's equally absurd to claim that only "Native Americans" have a right to be here. Unless, perhaps, you can point without a doubt to a group of Native Americans who did not ever displace some other group of indigenous people who were in North American before them. How many people anywhere in the world can claim to be a pure descendant of the original humans in a given territory?

    Mr. Vargas is in a difficult situation, to be sure. However, he has known since the age of 16 that he was undocumented, and obtained a green card fraudulently. Now he chooses to define "American" as "someone who works really hard, someone who is proud to be in this country and wants to contribute to it." Well isn't that special. Can I move to Toronto, obtain a fraudulent work permit and define myself as Canadian because I work hard? Where in the world can you do such a thing? I doubt I can even decide to define myself as Filipino just because I find myself living in Manila without documents.

    Perhaps Mr. Vargas should use his considerable skills to improve things in Antipolo.

    Posted by: ScottCA | Jul 15, 2014 9:33:33 PM

  19. I have no comment on this specific situation.

    However, when I first moved to DC many moons ago, I had sex with this dude. He had just starting writing for the Washington Post. During sex, he asked me if it was more prestigious for someone to write for the New York Times than the Post. This guy has all of the signs of narcissistic personality disorder. I don't find him to be virtuous in any of his plights.

    Posted by: Boston | Jul 15, 2014 9:37:28 PM

    By "outed himself" you mean he " "flaunted", right?

    You'd have a soul mate here in Bay Area in this vile Taiwanese broad who's a rabid anti immigration activist, while she is an immigrant herself.

    Congrats; you'll never be alone, darling!

    Posted by: iban4yesu | Jul 15, 2014 9:45:27 PM

  21. SCOTTCA,
    You got the nerve to compare yourself to Mr Vargas! (congratulation on your own Pulitzer, too!)
    Why don't you doll take your time machine to go back a couple of centuries ago, mobilize the Philippine Army and with it kill off the one third population in America.
    Then you can do all the whining you want!

    Posted by: iban4yesu | Jul 15, 2014 9:56:26 PM


    Congratulations to you too for your fab life in that "Tea Party red state", where every social woe can get blamed on immigrants, never ever on those fat cats who screwed up the whole world`s economy in the first place!

    Posted by: iban4yesu | Jul 15, 2014 10:01:27 PM

  23. @ IBAN4YESU

    If it makes you happier, he "pranced" in front of ICE, which didn't do anything because he doesn't fall into any of the priority categories for detention and deportation.

    Painting folks who are not in support of illegal immigration with a broad brush as "anti immigration" is overly simplistic, don't you think, darling?

    Posted by: NewAmsterdam | Jul 15, 2014 10:06:54 PM

  24. wow, that's all that i can say. yay tho i walk through the valley of trolls. i suspect andy should just turn of comments altogether, since the decent diverse community he once had is now populated by yahoo! rejects. unutterably sad.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Jul 15, 2014 10:08:28 PM

  25. In complete seriousness - why do we really need borders? People will say "the economy" and "protecting jobs", but those are unfounded abstractions. US policy is directly responsible for the continued poverty and violence of Mexican and Central American nations, yet we take no responsibility.

    So - why do we have borders?

    Posted by: jlavoy | Jul 15, 2014 10:20:19 PM

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