Jose Antonio Vargas feared being departed after he revealed last year in The New York Times Magazine that he is in the U.S. illegally. Though his driver’s license was revoked by the state of Washington and he worries that a TSA agent will check his Filipino passport for a visa stamp, he’s still here. The reason is delightfully bureaucratic:
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.
Apparently a phone call doesn’t count as being “in contact.” When Vargas asked ICE headquarters in Washington if he’s at risk of being deported, he got a response familiar to reporters: “We do not comment on specific cases.”
Related: Photographer describes thinking behind Time cover photo (Time) || Earlier: Romney campaign kicks Jose Antonio Vargas out of event for being an activist | Jose Antonio Vargas plans to report on immigration issues as he lobbies for policy changes