Activists who were working with immigration reform advocate Jose Antonio Vargas near the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas released a statement Tuesday claiming he was arrested while attempting to pass through security at McAllen-Miller International Airport.
“Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American, has been detained by Border Patrol in McAllen after attempting to board a plane to Los Angeles,” the immigrant youth-led organisation United We Dream said in a statement on its website.
Vargas traveled to the area last week to promote the efforts of UWD and other immigration reform groups before realising it was within a secure perimeter manned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents where he might not be able to leave without documentation.
About 45 minutes ago, Vargas tweeted that he was going to attempt to pass through security at the airport. He said he had no identification other than his “Philippine passport and my pocketbook US Constitution.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Vargas wrote.
He encouraged readers to follow the official account of Define American, the pro-immigration reform organisation he founded, for further updates. Vargas has not sent out any other Twitter updates, but Define American sent a message saying he was “Detained” and was “being taken to the mcallen border patrol station.” They included a link to a donation page encouraging supporters to “stand with Jose and the #BorderChildren.”
Business Insider called the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in McAllen to confirm Vargas was taken into custody. We were referred to sector headquarters in Edinburgh, Texas where the person who answered the phone said they could not release any information about Vargas.
“The federal government does not give any information on individual detainees over the phone, not even to attorneys,” they said.
Vargas, a former reporter, who has discussed his experience as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times, Politico, and in a CNN documentary originally traveled to the border in support the groups to highlight the stories of unaccompanied children who have fled countries in Central America because of increased levels of gang violence. The organisations have been volunteering in shelters that provide support to children and families.
View the tweets from Vargas and Define American below.
This story was updated at 10:15 a.m.
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