Undocumented activist reporter arrested in Minnesota
A New York Times reporter who won acclaim after revealing himself to be an undocumented immigrant was arrested Friday by airport police in Minnesota.
According to MinnPost, Jose Antonio Vargas was arrested by Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport authorities and charged with driving without a valid driver’s license.
Vargas was booked into the Hennepin County Jail Friday morning and released that afternoon, which MinnPost reporter Beth Hawkins was different than the usual procedure followed for undocumented immigrants under Sheriff Rich Stanek.
Stanek’s office, which operates the jail, participates in Secure Communities, a voluntary program whereby local law enforcement alerts U.S. Customs officials whenever they pick up undocumented immigrants.
Vargas is scheduled to appear in Hennepin County District Court on Oct. 18. His Twitter account was silent throughout the day Friday until he wrote, “Thank you to everyone for your support. I am fine” just after 9:30 p.m. EST.
Last year, Vargas documented his efforts to conceal his immigration status while pursuing his journalism career in an essay for The Times.
“It was an odd sort of dance: I was trying to stand out in a highly competitive newsroom, yet I was terrified that if I stood out too much, I’d invite unwanted scrutiny,” he wrote. “I tried to compartmentalize my fears, distract myself by reporting on the lives of other people, but there was no escaping the central conflict in my life. Maintaining a deception for so long distorts your sense of self. You start wondering who you’ve become, and why.”
Vargas subsequently founded Define American, an immigration rights advocacy group.
According to the essay, Vargas, who had a valid driver’s license in Oregon, had received a license in the state of Washington, which was good until 2016. But Washington state officials revoked that license after Vargas did not respond to a letter seeking proof of residency.
[Image via The Opportunity Agenda on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]