Jose Antonio Vargas, a prominent journalist who has chronicled the twists and turns of his life as a Filipino living illegally for years in the United States, was detained by the Border Patrol in McAllen, Texas, on Tuesday and then released with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. He was detained before he was to board a flight to Houston, on his way to Los Angeles. In a terse statement, Department of Homeland Security officials said they had released Vargas because he had no prior immigration or criminal record.
It was the first time Vargas, who has been living without papers in the United States since 1993, had been arrested by immigration authorities. He insisted that he never intended to be detained when he came to South Texas. But he and his supporters wasted no time turning his arrest into a day of high drama, using it to publicize their cause on social media and at a news conference in front of the Border Patrol station where he was held. The detention of Vargas posed an awkward dilemma for the Obama administration. The surge of Central Americans crossing the border illegally has made all decisions about immigration politically fraught.