Journalist turned immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas was arrested Friday in Minnesota for driving without a valid license. The offense typically leads to a citation, rather than an arrest, reports Beth Hawkins for MinnPost, so it’s unclear why Vargas was arrested. He was released soon after and tweeted:
Thank you to everyone for your support. I am fine.
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) October 6, 2012
Vargas is scheduled to appear in court in two weeks, on Oct. 18, Hawkins reports.
The arrest is notable in part because the county where it happened “participates in Secure Communities, a Bush administration initiative to secure local law enforcement cooperation in reporting undocumented immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. In response, ICE routinely places deportation holds on undocumented individuals.”
Vargas wrote this summer in Time magazine that the ICE was unaware of him because he had never been arrested:
I spend every day wondering what, if anything, the government plans to do with me. After months of waiting for something to happen, I decided that I would confront immigration officials myself. Since I live in New York City, I called the local ICE office. The phone operators I first reached were taken aback when I explained the reason for my call. Finally I was connected to an ICE officer.
“Are you planning on deporting me?” I asked.
I quickly found out that even though I publicly came out about my undocumented status, I still do not exist in the eyes of ICE. Like most undocumented immigrants, I’ve never been arrested. Therefore, I’ve never been in contact with ICE.
“After checking the appropriate ICE databases, the agency has no records of ever encountering Mr. Vargas,” Luis Martinez, a spokesman for the ICE office in New York, wrote me in an e-mail.
Vargas revealed in a June 2011 first-person account for The New York Times Magazine that he discovered his undocumented status as a teenager and kept it secret during his years working for The Washington Post. His driver’s license was revoked the following month.