Prominent immigration activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas was detained at an airport in McAllen, Texas, on Tuesday as he was passing through a security checkpoint, immigration rights groups said.
Airport officials in the border city could not confirm that Vargas had been detained but said an unidentified individual was taken into police custody at a security checkpoint. McAllen police officials were not immediately available for comment.
Vargas, 33, posted a picture of himself holding documents on a Facebook page for Define American — an immigration activist group he co-founded — as he was about to go through airport security.
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"The only IDs I have to show security: my Philippine passport and my pocketbook U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, which I keep with me at all times. I don't know what's going to happen," wrote Vargas.
In another photo posted a few minutes later on the same Facebook page taken by someone who said they were traveling with Vargas, a man said to be Vargas is placed in handcuffs by uniformed personnel.
Vargas was planning to go to Central America to report on the plight of children fleeing countries in the region due to heightened levels of violence, said United We Dream, an immigration activist group for which Vargas was working.
"Once again, the Border Patrol has proven to be a rogue agency after arresting Jose Antonio, a low-priority case for detention and deportation," it said in a statement.
In June 2011, Vargas said he was an undocumented immigrant in an essay in the New York Times Magazine.
In 1993 at the age of 12, he said goodbye to his mother and boarded a plane in the Philippines to join his grandparents in California. It would be four more years before he would learn that he was in the United States illegally.
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