A major civil rights group and an immigration law organization are arguing in a court petition that Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted a young woman for deportation after she criticized the agency publicly. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center and the law office of civil rights attorney William Most have joined with Mississippi immigration law firm Elmore & Peterson to keep ICE from deporting Daniela Vargas, 22.
ICE wants to remove her without a hearing. Vargas was arrested by ICE March 1 in Jackson, Mississippi soon after she left a press conference. At the news conference, she criticized ICE over its recent arrests of immigrants, including her father and brother. ICE had arrested her family members two weeks earlier. The attorneys say in a court petition that ICE agents knew Vargas’ Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, DACA, benefit had expired when they declined to arrest her on March 1, even though they arrested her father and brother at that time.
“ICE agents told Ms. Vargas they were giving her a ‘hall pass,'” the court document states. In the two weeks after her father’s and brother’s arrest, Vargas spoke multiple times about how terrified she was of ICE agents’ actions, the lawyers said in the court petition filed Tuesday. “Those statements led the same agents to target Ms. Vargas for arrest and removal – or revocation of her ‘hall pass’ – notwithstanding that doing so violated her First Amendment rights,” the lawyers said.