A 22-year-old illegal immigrant whose protection under an Obama administration program lapsed was detained by immigration officials yesterday after voicing her fear of deportation at a news conference, the Wall Street Journal reports. Daniela Vargas, who came to the U.S. from Argentina when she was 7, was detained by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as she and a friend drove away from the news conference in Jackson, Ms., said her lawyer, Abigail Peterson. The news conference was organized by attorneys, church groups and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance to bring attention to recent immigration raids in the region. ICE enforcement actions under the Trump administration have stoked fears in immigrant communities after large numbers of coordinated arrests in recent weeks.
Agency officials have said they are targeting undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes including assault, murder and drug trafficking. The agency acknowledged picking up some immigrants they encountered during those raids who have violated federal immigration law, but not committed other crimes. Vargas’ father and brother were detained by immigration officials who arrested them outside the family home last month. But Vargas herself wasn’t arrested at the time, her lawyer said. Thomas Byrd, a spokesman for ICE, said she was taken into custody “during a targeted immigration enforcement action.” Peterson said she had been working with Vargas on reapplying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a program that protects young undocumented adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation and gives them work authorization. Since DACA was introduced in 2012, about 750,000 people have benefited from the program. President Trump has pledged to rescind the program, but has since said he would seek a more favorable solution for its beneficiaries, known as “Dreamers.”