About two weeks ago, Daniela Vargas hid in the bedroom closet of her Jackson, Miss., home after watching immigration officials handcuff her father in the family’s driveway.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained the 22-year-old’s father and brother, Argentines who were living in the country illegally, amid the Trump administration’s aggressive deportation effort that has riled immigrant communities across the country.
Although Vargas was in the process of renewing her status as a “dreamer” to remain in the United States legally — a status she had allowed to lapse — she feared that immigration officials would come after her next.
But those fears did not stop Vargas from speaking out at a news conference Wednesday at Jackson City Hall, alongside immigrant rights advocates.
“Today my father and brother await deportation, she said, “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.”
After leaving the news conference with her friend, two law enforcement cars pulled her over. ICE agents reportedly opened the car door, telling Vargas, “you know who we are and you know why we’re here,” her friend, Jordan Sanders, told Univision. Then, they handcuffed her and took her into custody.
Vargas’s detention shocked and angered immigrant rights advocates, who feared ICE officials may have retaliated against her for speaking publicly about her case. It also heightened existing anxieties that “dreamers” registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Barack Obama could now be targeted for deportation.