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New York immigrant, activist avoids detainment after traffic stop

A simple traffic stop. That's all it can take to be detained on an immigration violation. Many people across the country, and right here in New York, live in fear of being detained and possibly deported after a simple traffic stop because their immigration status is undocumented or they are living in the Unites States without proper documentation. Even activists such as Jose Antonio Vargas are not immune to potential detainment.

Vargas, who we wrote about in a blog post late last month was stopped by police in another state last week, and taken to a jail where he was questioned about his immigration status by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Although he admits living in the country without proper documentation, ICE decided not to detain him and has not pursued immigration charges. According to a news report in the New York Times about the incident, ICE makes decisions on detaining people based on their perceived threat to public safety, as well as past immigration related incidents.

While Vargas was not deemed to be a threat, some people who also have no past violations may have a more difficult time fighting detainment by immigration officials. Even though this prominent activist was released, he still faces charges of driving without a license.

Others who may be pulled over for minor violations, as Vargas was, might be detained and face deportation. Immigration rights groups contend that although some people are not detained, many others with no previous criminal violations and no resources to obtain a documented immigration status could face deportation from a traffic violation.

Source: The New York Times, "No Immigration Charges Filed Against Activist in Traffic Stop," Julia Preston, Oct. 8, 2012

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