This 22-Year-Old Says She Would Do Anything For The United States, Even As It Moves To Deport Her

"There’s so much that I can bring to the table."

22-year-old Daniela Vargas' father and brother were arrested by immigration officials last week, as she hid in her bedroom closet at their home in Jackson, Mississippi. Though awaiting the renewal of her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, Vargas decided to take her concerns to the public on Wednesday in a press conference at Jackson City Hall, where she spoke about her family's detention and her fear of deportation. 

As she departed the press conference, Vargas — who was brought to the United States from Argentina at 7 — was reportedly pulled over by ICE officers, handcuffed, and placed in a detention facility in Louisiana, where she is set to be deported without a court hearing. Under DACA, Vargas was granted protection in the past, but her status expired in November 2016 while she was saving up funds to pay for the $495 renewal fee, her lawyer, Abigail Peterson, told the New York Times. Vargas applied for a renewal in February. 


On Thursday, The Huffington Post published Vargas' remarks about her detention as released by Peterson:

I don't understand why they don't want me. I'm doing the best I can. I mean, I can't help that I was brought here but I don't know anything else besides being here and I didn't realize that until I was in a holding cell last night for 5 hours. I was brought here. I didn't choose to be here. And when I was brought here, I had to learn a whole new country and leave behind the one that I did know. And I barely knew that one. I feel — I strongly feel that I belong here and I strongly feel that I should be given a chance to be here and do something good and work in this economy. There's so much that I can bring to the table, so much, like — I can even teach music, I'm an excellent trumpet player, you can ask my mom about any of that. I'm great with math, I speak Spanish. You know, there's a lot of stuff that I can do for this country that they're not allowing me to do. I've even tried to join the military, and I can't do that. But, I mean that's not the point, the whole point is that I would do anything for this country.

Vargas' words make a moving case for her stay, but it also reveals the stark disconnect between attitudes towards immigrants that drive policy and the realities of immigrants' relationship to America. Like Vargas, many have shown themselves eager to go above and beyond for a country that seems to rarely acknowledge their contributions. Instead, some politicians paint false narratives that paint them with a broad brush: drug dealer, murderer, rapist, job stealer. 

But if her remarks do little to impede the crackdown on immigrants, let them at least serve as a reminder that many undocumented immigrants are willing and able to be a part of this country.


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