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Pulitzer Prize winning illegal immigrant arrested but not deported

When Jose Antonio Vargas was the member of a Washington Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, South Carolina readers did not know that he was an illegal immigrant. That information was only divulged last year in an essay he wrote and published in the New York Times Magazine. In that article he revealed that he was originally from the Philippines, but when he was 12 years old his mother sent him to live with his grandparents in California.

He did not realize that he was in the country illegally until he had to apply for a driver's permit with forged documents. This began his life of deceit in order to have a driver's license, gain employment, remain in the United States and avoid deportation.

When he made his illegal status public last year, his driver's license was canceled. Recently while traveling to a speaking engagement, Vargas was stopped by law enforcement officials because he was wearing headphones while driving. A quick check revealed that his license was not valid. He was arrested and the state patrol contacted the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Interestingly ICE did not block his release from prison. Neither did the ICE did arrest him or issue a detainer. Why not? Apparently, this is not the type of case that the ICE is interested in pursuing.

Their current policy of effective immigration enforcement is to seek the removal only of those individuals who pose a threat to public safety, have recently crossed the border or are otherwise egregious immigration law violators. Vargas does not meet any of these qualifications, and as a result the ICE was apparently willing to leave him alone for now.

Source: Huffington Post, "Jose Antonio Vargas Arrested, Government Declines To Take Action Against Undocumented Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist," Steve Karnowski, Oct. 8, 2012

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