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U.S. 'dreamer' facing deportation without hearing, lawyer says

By
Andrew V. Pestano
The lawyer for Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old undocumented dreamer who has lived in Mississippi since she was 7, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to deport Vargas without a hearing because she will be processed as a visa waiver overstay. Photo courtesy of Daniela Vargas
The lawyer for Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old undocumented "dreamer" who has lived in Mississippi since she was 7, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to deport Vargas without a hearing because she will be processed as a "visa waiver overstay." Photo courtesy of Daniela Vargas

March 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to deport Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old undocumented "dreamer" who has lived in Mississippi since she was 7, without a hearing, her lawyer said.

Vargas, who was born in Argentina, applied to have her status as a "dreamer" renewed after she allowed it to lapse before she was detained.

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"Dreamers" are undocumented immigrants protected from deportation under policies by former President Barack Obama. The program offered a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to undocumented immigrants under the age of 31 who arrived in the United States before they were 16 years old.

Vargas' father and brother were detained by ICE agents in mid-February. She hid in her bedroom closet at home while her family members were taken to be processed from deportation.

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Vargas had two pending applications to renew her status as a "dreamer" and to acquire a work permit prior to detention. Despite fears she could herself be detained, Vargas on Wednesday spoke at Jackson City Hall -- flanked by immigrant rights advocates.

"Today my father and brother await deportation while I continue to fight this battle as a dreamer to help contribute to this country which I feel that is very much my country," Vargas then said.

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Following her speech, U.S. law enforcement vehicles pulled over the vehicle she was in and detained her.

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Vargas' lawyer, Abigail Peterson, of the Elmore & Peterson Law Firm, told the Jackson Free Press on Thursday that immigration authorities will deport Vargas without a hearing. Peterson also said immigration officials will not consider Vargas' application to renew her "dreamer" status.

"They don't plan on giving her a hearing with an immigration judge, and so she will be prepared for removal, so they'll prepare travel documents and set up a flight plan," Peterson said. "I don't understand why, you know, she's paid for this application and mailed out this application and been twice approved before, and every indication is that it would be approved a third time. That is tremendous evidence in her favor ... to let her stay here and release her... The fact that they are going to all of this trouble to deport her, through all this PR nightmare to deport her is incomprehensible."

Previously, Vargas and her family were allowed to stay under a visa waiver program but only for 90 days. They stayed longer and thus became ineligible for an immigration hearing, L. Patricia Ice, the M.I.R.A. legal project director, told The New York Times. But in 2012, Vargas was allowed to stay under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

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Peterson said authorities informed Vargas she would be processed as a "visa waiver overstay" -- the status she had prior to becoming a "dreamer."

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