Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson moved to shield from deportation Thursday an illegal immigrant living in Mississippi who is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Thompson introduced a private bill to restore protected status to Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old student who received temporary legal status under former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order. The private bill applies solely to Vargas and asks Congress “to waive grounds of removal, or denial of admission,” the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.
Vargas was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) March 1, after she denounced the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration during a news conference. At the event, Vargas defended the DACA program and called on Trump to maintain protections for so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. by their undocumented parents.
On March 10, ICE released Vargas under an order of supervision.
Private bills, which are often introduced in immigration-related cases, affect only specific individuals or corporate entities. If a private bill is passed in identical form by both houses of Congress and then signed by the president, it becomes a private law.
Thompson, a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has called Vargas an “innocent victim” whose deportation would not be in keeping with “our cherished American values.”
“It is regrettable that she [Vargas] is the innocent victim of the cruelties of our current immigration system,” Thompson said in a statement regarding the private bill. “Our nation needs DACA recipients like Ms. Vargas to be free from the threat of deportation so that they can contribute to our communities and build a better future for themselves and their families.”
Vargas was previously protected under the DACA program, which allows illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to stay and obtain work permits. Although Trump has not officially rescinded DACA, he issued in February an executive order that expanded the categories of illegal aliens subject to detention and removal by immigration authorities. (RELATED: An Estimated 36,000 Illegal Immigrants Have Received Amnesty Under Trump, As He Reneges On Promise)
Vargas’ supporters say she should be allowed to stay in the U.S. because she was only 7 when her parents brought her to the U.S. on a travel visa. Her attorney, Abby Peterson, told the Clarion-Leger that Vargas is “honored” to receive Thompson’s support.
“The bill further supports her case and her right to be in the United States without fear of deportation,” Peterson said. “As we pursue Dany’s case in the court system, we will continue to support Rep. Thompson and his colleagues’ efforts to help ensure that other Dreamers do not get caught in similar situations.”
The private bill is unlikely to pass a Republican-controlled House and Senate.
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