As part of ‘1 of 11 Million’ campaign
LOS ANGELES — Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino American journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is arguably the most visible undocumented immigrant in America right now, has joined 10 other fellow undocumented immigrants in applying for temporary relief from deportation proceedings under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The 11 people applied for DACA as part of the “1 of 11 Million” campaign launched on Wednesday, August 20, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The campaign is spearheaded by Define American, an immigrant-led media and culture advocacy group that clamors for comprehensive immigration reform that leads to a pathway for legalization of the over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.
Define American, which was also founded by Vargas, recently said in a statement that 11 undocumented immigrants’ move to apply for deferred action was done in hopes of “sparking a conversation around the complexities of the immigration system in America.”
The 11 DACA applicants represent a diverse set of complex immigration cases from across the United States, Defined American also said.
Vargas recently made headlines when he was captured and detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities at the US-Mexico border town of McAllen, Texas. The 33-year old journalist was at McAllen to reach out to the unaccompanied undocumented minors detained in border patrol custody. When he tried to fly out of the border town via McAllen airport, he was apprehended by ICE, and was subsequently detained and questioned for 8 hours. When he was released, Vargas announced in a statement that he was issued an order to appear before immigration court for removal proceedings.
With the “1 of 11 Million” campaign, Vargas hopes that the government will grant him and his 10 fellow applicants a four-year temporary reprieve from deportation by executing prosecutorial discretion.
“Deferred action is a temporary solution, so I wouldn’t be deported for four years. I can get a work permit,” said Vargas in a Balitang America report.
“I have caused my grandmother a lot of stress, more stress than she deserves, so this will be some sort of peace of mind,” he added.
Vargas is joined by fellow undocumented immigrants Erika Aldape (Mexico), Maria Guadalupe Arreola (Mexico), Felipe Jesus Diosdado (Mexico), Maria del Rosario Duarte Villanueva (Mexico), Michaela Graham (Germany), Noemi Romero (Mexico), Eduardo Samaniego (Mexico), Yestel Velasquez (Honduras), Aly Wane (Senegal), and Jong-Min You (South Korea).
Samaniego, 22, told Balitang America that the proponents of the “1 of 11 Million” campaign hope that their actions would “humanize the debate on immigration.”
“We speak about why we’re here, what our families are going through, why it is necessary to be relieved from deportation,” Samaniego was quoted as saying.
President Barack Obama has recently expressed his intentions to use executive powers in providing a solution to America’s broken immigration system.
Samaniego believes that Obama “has the power to take actions, the power to exercise prosecutorial discretion, and protect the 11 million from deportation.” For his part, Vargas emphasized the need for administrative relief.
“Our families need urgent relief now, and here’s the key question – just how inclusive and humane will President Obama’s executive action can be? Who will be left out and why?” Vargas said to Balitang America.
(With reports from Balitang America)