Jose Vargas wrote a widely circulated article in the New York Times in June, 2011 about his life as an illegal alien in the United States.
Yesterday, he was arrested at a routine traffic stop and charged with driving without a valid drivers license.
It’s unclear why Vargas was stopped. He is scheduled to appear in Hennepin County District Court Oct. 18.
(Update: Vargas was stopped because he was wearing headphones, Roeske said.)
His arrest here on a traffic violation is newsworthy because the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the county jail, participates in Secure Communities, a Bush administration initiative to secure local law enforcement cooperation in reporting undocumented immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
In response, ICE routinely places deportation holds on undocumented individuals, whether or not the offense they are suspected of merits booking into the jail. Law enforcement participation is voluntary.
According to county records, Vargas was booked into the Hennepin County Jail at 10:49 this morning. Individuals suspected of driving without a license are typically issued a citation at the scene and not arrested or held.
Update: A State Patrol captain who handles calls from troopers who suspect they have detained an undocumented individual contacted ICE, Roeske said. The federal agency then typically asks the jail to place an immigration hold on the individual. There is nothing in the law enforcement agency’s file on the incident that says whether this was done.
In marked contrast to the way most undocumented immigrants have been handled during Sheriff Rich Stanek’s tenure, Vargas was released at 1:34 Friday afternoon.
(Update: Vargas was headed to Carleton College to give the weekly convocation.)
Among the steps Vargas enumerated in his Times piece were his efforts to secure a valid driver’s license, something he eventually managed to do in Oregon.
Just how Mr. Vargas was able to obtain a valid drivers license in Oregon is not mentioned. Oregon, no doubt, has lax standards of proof of identity, or, he was able to obtain a forged birth certificate. The forged document business is extremely lucrative in the US, worth at least $2 billion by some estimates and the biggest customers they have are illegals seeking fake social security cards, birth certificates, drivers licenses, and even forged green cards.
Mr. Vargas has a court date later this month.