Daniela Vargas, SXSW, Muhammad Ali Jr. and An Ongoing Battle With Immigration Policies

Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old Argentine woman who migrated from Argentina at 7 years- old with a two year DACA status and was allowed to stay in the United States through the Obama program fully titled the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which allowed children to stay in the country until they were of age to become eligible for citizenship, has now been detained by ICE after a speech that she gave at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi that was organized by lawyers, church leaders and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance and that was intended to help and empower other undocumented immigrants. According to The New York Times, she “was picked up on Wednesday when the car she was riding in was pulled over by officers shortly after leaving the news conference at City Hall.”

She is now being held in a detention center in Louisiana without a bond. Before her arrest, she had been advocating for other undocumented immigrants. “The path to citizenship is necessary for DACA recipients but also for the other 11 million undocumented people with dreams,” Ms. Vargas said to reporters. “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.”

“We stood vigil outside of the house for about five hours,” Bill Chandler, the executive director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance said. “ICE was trying to persuade Daniela to come out of the house. Of course, she refused. They went and got a search warrant. Then they decided to break into the house and confront her.” Angela Stuesse, a friend of Ms. Vargas, described to be extremely terrified over the entire incident. She hid in the closet and ICE agents pounded on her door until she “convinced” them that she was a “DACA person.” The agents then proceeded to threaten her saying that they will “come back and get her.”

Daniel Ramirez-Medina, another immigrant who was detained by authorities over a tattoo in his arm which say “La Paz BCS,” (a term in Spanish referring to “peace”) and his “admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety”; he allegedly still has an active connection with two gang members which has been refuted by his attorney. “This is false. Mr. Ramirez did not say these things because they are not true,” said his attorney Mark Rosenbaum. “And while utterly implausible and wholly fabricated, these claims still would not be sufficient evidence that Mr. Ramirez is a threat to the public safety or national security.” He was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.

In a similar context, SXSW, a festival that conjoins film, interactive media, music, and conferences that is based in Austin, Texas has been receiving heavy backlash over a policy which allows the festival to “notify the appropriate U.S. immigration authorities” if they “or their representatives have acted in ways that adversely affect the viability of their official SXSW showcase.”

American punk rock band band, Downtown Boys, released statement in regard to these policies set by the festival. “As artists and part of the musical community of SXSW, we’re outraged to learn that the festival has been threatening artists who are not U.S. citizens with targeted immigration enforcement and deportation for playing at unofficial showcases,” the letter which was signed by artists such as PWR BTTM, Priests, Sheer Mag, Screaming Females, Helado Negro, Jay Som, Emily Reo, Girlpool and Immortal Technique. “We are calling on SXSW to immediately drop this clause from their contract, and cease any collusion with immigration officials that puts performers in danger.”

Toward the end, the letter that was signed specifically by Victoria Ruiz and Joey L DeFrancesco, Downtown Boys continues, “We demand an end to their threats and a public apology for their anti-immigrant and therefore racist stated policy. Cities, counties, and states have all been urged to cease collaboration with ICE, we demand the same of music festivals.

Roland Swenson, the CEO and co-founder of SXSW, released a statement in wake of this controversy and said; “SXSW has been vocal in its opposition to President Trump’s Travel Ban and is working hard to build a coalition of attorneys to assist artists with issues at U.S. ports of entry during the event… We were sorry to learn that one of our invited performers chose to cancel his performance at this year’s SXSW Music Festival due to a misunderstanding of our policies regarding international artists. We understand that given the current political climate surrounding immigration, the language that was published seems strong. Violating U.S. immigration law has always carried potentially severe consequences, and we would be remiss not to warn our participating acts of the likely repercussions.”

Additionally, Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, son of the legendary boxer, were detained and questioned by police upon his arrival at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport from Jamaica until she was able to produce a photograph of her with her husband. Ali Jr., a Philadelphia born American citizen, was unable to produce a photo and was held because of his “Arabic-sounding name.” There is a high probability that this incident was linked to Donald Trump’s highly discriminatory and controversial travel ban against 7 Muslim-majority countries; it was signed about 10 days before the incident.

Through I wrote this in a typical Tarantino Pulp Fiction manner, it is important to note that immigration is by no way a joke and should not be used as a threat against other. This is an ongoing issue that affects all kinds of people regardless of citizenship status. My own aunt was detained by LAPD at LAX after arriving from Mexico last year around November/December and was granted to enter the country for the week she was visiting but is now to not be allowed into the country. Though for my aunt it is an issue that has the probably to be resolved (hopefully), there are thousands of people not quite so privileged as my aunt who’re hiding out of fear of deportation.

Since 2006, there have been around 11.5-12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States and as of 2013, there are over 4.5 million kids under 18 living with undocumented parents. Oh, and according to The New York Times, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes.

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Fernando Reyes
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High-school teenager with interests in fashion, writing and film.

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