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Illegal immigrant journalist avoids deportation over traffic stop

October 09, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • Immigration authorities said they won't take action against former Washington Post journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, an illegal immigrant, who was arrested in Minnesota for driving without a valid license. Here he speaks in Washington in June.
Immigration authorities said they won't take action against former… (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated…)

Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist who made waves last year when he announced in the New York Times Magazine that he was an illegal immigrant, won’t be targeted by immigration officials after a Minnesota traffic stop.

Vargas, 31, was arrested in Minneapolis on Friday when an officer pulled him over for driving with headphones, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Vargas, founder of the Define American movement, was in town to give a talk at Carleton College. He never gave it.

That’s because Vargas' license turned out to be canceled, at which point police called immigration officials and Vargas was arrested, according to the Star Tribune.

But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not put an immigration detainer on Vargas.

“ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of public safety threats, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States,” said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen, according to Politico. The day after Vargas’ arrest, he continued a busy schedule, appearing at the New Yorker Festival on Saturday and on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” on Sunday to talk immigration.

Vargas, who is active on Twitter, has only mentioned the arrest in a Friday night tweet that said, “Thank you to everyone for your support. I am fine.”

Vargas, a Filipino American, was part of a Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and had written a profile of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker before announcing himself as an illegal immigrant.

His New York Times Magazine story describes a life filled with anxiety while he misled officials and employers about his immigration status, at various points accumulating a fake green card, a fake passport and a Washington state driver’s license, which was revoked after the story was published.

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