Jose Antonio Vargas released from Border Patrol Custody

NEWSCENTER 23
Immigration Crisis

POSTED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 5:36pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 11:29am

Jose Antonio Vargas is no longer in the custody of Border Patrol after being released this afternoon, a Border Patrol spokesperson confirms.

There is no information available on the conditions of Vargas's release.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant activist was detained by Border Patrol this morning at the McAllen Airport as he was boarding a plane to Los Angeles.

Just hours before his flight, Vargas tweeted "About to go thru McAllen Airport security. I don't know what's going to happen."

After being released, Vargas released the following statement:

"As an unaccompanied child migrant myself, I came to McAllen, Texas, to shed a light on children who parts of America and many in the news media are actively turning their backs on. But what I saw was the generosity of the American people, documented and undocumented, in the Rio Grande Valley.

I've been released by Border Patrol. I want to thank everyone who stands by me and the undocumented immigrants of south Texas and across the country. Our daily lives are filled with fear in simple acts such as getting on an airplane to go home to our family.
With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, and President Obama weighing his options on executive action, the critical question remains: how do we define American?
"

Vargas is one of the most well-known undocumented immigrants in the country.

News of his detention sparked a rally in front of the Border Patrol station in McAllen where Vargas was being held for questioning.

Tania Chavez, a friend of Vargas's, asked him a question that he didn't have the answer to.

"[I asked him] 'How are you gonna get out?'" said Chavez. "Like how are you gonna get through the airport? And he was like 'What do you mean? I have my Filipino passport.'

I'm like 'No, we have Border Patrol at the airport. And he's like 'Oh, well you know I travel all over the United States with my Filipino passport.'"

But that wasn't the case this morning.

Vargas came to the Valley last week to share his story and show support for the humanitarian efforts amid the immigration crisis.

He didn't realize he wouldn't be able to leave without a U.S. Government issued ID and was unaware of the presence of Border Patrol agent at the McAllen airport.

Members of the Minority Affairs Council say this situation is shared by thousands of undocumented immigrants who cannot pass through Border Patrol checkpoints.

"This is where we're trapped," said Luis Maldonado. "This is the area many border communities have been trapped for their life, what my community has been living and what Jose Antonio is living right now."

"We are in this fight together" Chavez explained. "It doesn't matter that [Vargas is] a public figure with a high profile. We are all humans and we all deserve the same rights."

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