Over the past month or so, there has been a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied children apprehended while attempting to cross the border into the United States. Undoubtedly, there is a concern for the safety and well-being of these young minors attempting such a difficult journey. Along with the issues related to the health of these children, there is the question as to why so many children are making the trek on their own. Do people outside of the U.S. truly think the border is something other than “secure?”
If you ask certain politicians in Washington, D.C. and other locations throughout the nation, you will most definitely hear opinions and theories as to why the border is actually not secure and what needs to be done to change current circumstances. However, one undocumented reporter who recently visited Texas would likely disagree. He would likely say that yes, the border is secure.
As reported by The Huffington Post, Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist was more or less “trapped” in Texas. Vargas traveled to McAllen, Texas shortly after the release of his new documentary, Documented, “to give a voice to thousands of children who have been detained at the border.” While in Texas, he eventually realized that he would have a difficult time getting back home. Vargas flew into the city by using his Phillippines-issued passport and planned to use the same passport to fly out of the city. However, there are Border Patrol agents throughout the city itself as well as at the airport.
Vargas admitted that he truly was unaware of how secure the border really is. In an interview with The Huffington Post, he said that there was a “border control van parked” at the hotel he was staying at. Vargas intended on traveling to McAllen to speak with and film “undocumented minors fleeing escalating violence in their home countries in Central America.”
Up until the time that he actually arrived in McAllen, Vargas did not realize that he would need to pass through an interior Border Patrol checkpoint near the city. At that point, he would be expected to present documentation that he does not have. A friend of Vargas's, who happens to be an immigration attorney, actually asked him what he planned to do about the checkpoint, but he dismissed the question because he had visited areas along the border before without issue. Vargas is ineligible for Deferred Action because he is over the age of 30.
On July 15, Vargas was arrested when he attempted to board a plane in McAllen. In a press release, United We Dream announced that Vargas was taken into custody by local Border Patrol agents at the McAllen-Miller International Airport. Before his arrest, a TSA agent verified the journalist's Philippines passport and airline ticket. The agent then signed off on the ticket and Vargas was ok to travel. However, Border Patrol then looked at the passport and asked Vargas if he had a visa. Vargas admitted to not having a visa. Vargas was then handcuffed and taken to a Border Patrol station for further questions.
Update: Vargas was released by Border Patrol agents on July 15 after being detained for several hours.