Twenty-two year old Daniela Vargas was brought to the United States illegally when she was just a little girl. Like many undocumented immigrant families, her parents were seeking a better life in the country that has long held that everyone should be able to obtain the "American dream." Daniela grew up, graduated high school and went on to the University of Southern Mississippi--everything was going great, until Donald Trump came along.
On Wednesday, Daniela participated in a news conference where she asked the president to protect her. During the conference, she described hiding in a closet while her home was raided and her father and brother were arrested by ICE agents on February 15. When the agents discovered her, she identified herself as a DREAMer and they left without taking her into custody. She said:
"I was scared for my life. A path for citizenship is necessary for DACA recipients but also for the other 11 million undocumented people with dreams."
Shortly after the news conference was over, Daniela was in a car with a friend when they were pulled over by two immigration enforcement officers and taken into custody. Coincidence?
"We're disappointed they took her under custody today," Vargas' attorney, Nathan Elmore, told NBC News. Her lawyer went onto explain that she had previously been protected under DACA, but it had expired and she was in the process of reapplying when she was detained. That Vargas was grabbed after publicly speaking out sends a very clear and unambiguous message: In Trump's America, immigrants may not exercise their First Amendment rights without risking punishment. This is a dangerous escalation of the attack on our immigrant communities designed to further push them into the shadows where they can be more easily demonized by an administration run by white nationalists.
Trump has said repeatedly that he is only concerned with deporting "criminal aliens," yet Daniela is sitting in an immigration detention facility without a criminal record. Why? Well, because the Tangerine Tyrant never intended to just deport criminals, he plans to deport every person who is undocumented -- the brown ones, anyway. His mass deportations are in full swing and families are being ripped apart all across our country. Meanwhile, the "Party of Family Values" is sitting on their asses applauding him for his actions because that is how much their values mean to them.
The 2018 mid-term elections are a little over a year away and if we have any hope of stopping this madness, we need to mobilize and get as many Republicans out of office as we can. It is the only hope we have of coming out of this with our democracy and collective humanity intact.