REPORT: America’s most famous undocumented immigrant has been taken into custody at Texas airport

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, immigration rights activist and self-declared undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas testifies on Capitol Hill ...Yahoo News – by Brett LoGiurato and Hunter Walker

Activists who were working with immigration reform advocate Jose Antonio Vargas near the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas released a statement Tuesday saying he was arrested while attempting to pass through security at McAllen-Miller International Airport.

“Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American, has been detained by Border Patrol in McAllen after attempting to board a plane to Los Angeles,” the immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream said in a statement on its website.   

Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim subsequently tweeted a photo he described as Vargas “in handcuffs.” Grim told Business Insider he obtained the picture from “a source.”

Vargas is perhaps America’s most prominent undocumented immigrant. A former reporter who was part of the Washington Post team that won a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the Virginia Tech shooting the prior year, Vargas revealed his undocumented status in a New York Times Magazine essay published June 22, 2011.

He traveled to Texas last week to promote the efforts of UWD and other immigration-reform groups to stand in solidarity with the unaccompanied children, before realizing it was within a secure perimeter manned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents where he might not be able to leave without documentation.

Vargas tweeted Tuesday morning that he was going to attempt to pass through security at the airport. Cristina Jimenez, the managing director of United We Dream, told Business Insider that Vargas was attempting to fly to Los Angeles to attend a screening of his documentary that aired last month on CNN. He said he had no identification other than his “Philippine passport and my pocketbook US Constitution.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Vargas wrote.

He encouraged readers to follow the official account of Define American, the pro-immigration reform organization he founded, for further updates. Vargas has not sent out any other Twitter updates, but Define American sent a message saying he was “detained” and was “being taken to the mcallen border patrol station.” They included a link to a donation page encouraging supporters to “stand with Jose and the #BorderChildren.”

Business Insider called the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in McAllen to confirm Vargas was taken into custody. We were referred to sector headquarters in Edinburgh, Texas, where the person who answered the phone said they could not release any information about Vargas.

“The federal government does not give any information on individual detainees over the phone, not even to attorneys,” they said.

In his original 2011 essay, Vargas said being undocumented meant living in “fear.”

“It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful,” Vargas wrote at the time.

After coming out as an undocumented immigrant, Vargas founded Define American and has discussed his experiences in pieces written for multiple news outlets and in a CNN documentary that debuted last month. Vargas originally traveled to the border in support the groups to highlight the stories of unaccompanied children who have fled countries in Central America because of increased levels of gang violence. The organizations have been volunteering in shelters that provide support to children and families.

View the tweets from Vargas and Define American below.

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