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Argentine Immigrant: ‘We're Not Just Here to Steal Jobs'

  • Associated Press

Diana Hodges places a sticky note that calls for freeing 22-year old Daniela Vargas, a Argentine native who has lived in the United States since she was seven years old, on the office doors of lawmakers at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Friday, March 3, 2017, Vargas was detained, March 1, by immigration agents who state that she is a "unlawfully present Argentinian citizen" during a "targeted immigration enforcement action."

Daniela Vargas, the young Argentine immigrant detained after speaking out in Mississippi, is talking about her time behind bars.

The Clarion Ledger reported that she was one of 70 women held in a facility in Jena, Louisiana, where she was barked and whistled at on arrival. She refused to eat at first, and it took her days to summon the courage to take a shower. She made friends, only to see them deported.

Vargas, 22, was arrested after immigration agents detained her father and brother, all Argentine nationals who violated a visa waiver program when she was 7. She said she didn't think she'd be detained as well after speaking out at a press conference.

"I wanted to freely say what I wanted to say and mean it," she said. "I wanted this country, or the president, to know that we are an asset to this country. We're not just here to steal jobs. We're here doing nice things. We're working. We're contributing. We're doing the best we can."

She said immigration agents asked about her mother's location. The paper reported that her father has been released, but her brother's status is uncertain. A bright moment in detention came when Vargas saw her father and brother through glass. They touched fingertips as her father called her "Champ."

She made friends after some women made her Ramen noodles, mixed with leftover lettuce.

"That touched my heart," she said. "I realized they were all my age. We all wanted the same things. We all wanted this dream to be here."

One woman gave her a rosary that belonged to her deceased father. Another gave her a book about trusting God. Both were deported

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