WASHINGTON – The most visible undocumented immigrant in America, Jose Antonio Vargas, together with 10 other undocumented immigrants from across America, are expecting the Department of Homeland Security to receive their applications for deferred action Wednesday.
Vargas is hoping Homeland Security will grant him and the 10 others a 4-year deferral on deportation by exercising prosecutorial discretion.
In the past, immigration officials have deferred the deportation of undocumented immigrants who do not pose immediate risk to America’s national security.
“Deferred action is a temporary solution, so I wouldn’t be deported for four years. I can get a work permit,” said Vargas. “I have caused my grandmother a lot of stress, more stress than she deserves, so this will be some sort of peace of mind.”
Launched at the National Press Club in Washington, DC today, the national “1 of 11 Million” campaign aims to highlight the stories of the undocumented 11.
Define American and the National Immigration Law Center hope this would push people to keep talking about immigration.
“We want to humanize the debate on immigration,” said Eduardo Samaniego, of the “1 of 11 Million” campaign. “We speak about why we’re here, what our families are going through, why it is necessary to be relieved from deportation.”
With immigration reform bill stalled by Republican leaders in the House, President Barack Obama has hinted at issuing executive orders to fix America’s broken immigration system.
As part of Define American’s national “1 of 11 Million” campaign, these cases are symbolic of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who may benefit from President Obama’s executive orders.
“He has the power to take actions, the power to exercise prosecutorial discretion, and protect the 11 million from deportation,” said Samaniego.
Vargas said, “Our families need urgent relief now, and here’s the key question – just how inclusive and humane will President Obama’s executive action can be? Who will be left out and why?”
The 33-year-old Pulitzer Prize winning Filipino journalist, who came to the U.S. when he was 12, was arrested by ICE agents while reaching out to undocumented children in the border town of McAllen, Texas last month.
After being questioned and detained for eight hours, he was released with an immigration court date for removal proceedings. He says President Obama has the chance to make things right and come to the aid of undocumented immigrants, who now consider America home.
“The president has to be as inclusive as possible, Congress has played politics with our lives,” said Vargas. “Enough of that – the president has an opportunity here to be as inclusive and as humane as possible.”
Read more on Balitang America.