To the cynics who’ve watched Jose Antonio Vargas drum up attention over the plight of undocumented immigrants, it was all too coincidental: Vargas, who entered the United States from the Philippines as an unaccompanied minor, recently saw his movie “Documented” air on CNN; the crisis involving minors from Central America spilling over the border is a core issue for his group, Define American. And so when Vargas leaped into the news this week with his detention at the McAllen-Miller International Airport in south Texas, after seeking to report on the undocumented children there, people asked, Is this a publicity stunt?
Not quite, Vargas said this morning on the CNN program “New Day.” “Is it a stunt to get on a plane . . . to try to get out of south Texas?” asked the 33-year-old Vargas, whose detention occurred when he was trying to hop on a flight to Los Angeles; he was detained for around eight hours after telling U.S. Border Patrol agents that he was in the country illegally. He received a notice to appear before an immigration judge.
Pressed by “New Day” host Chris Cuomo on how he, an immigration activist, could possibly be ignorant of the interior check, Vargas responded, “I did not anticipate it. . . . I’d never been to the Texas border,” said Vargas, noting that he hadn’t realized that the area was essentially a “militarized zone.” Lawyers for Vargas advised him to attempt to fly out of McAllen, he told Cuomo.