Jose Antonio Vargas Leads ‘1 of 11 Million’ Campaign for Deportation Relief

By Julianne Hing Aug 20, 2014

The Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant activist is on to his next campaign. Today, Jose Antonio Vargas and 10 other undocumented immigrants called on the Obama administration to make sure the president’s expected executive order on immigration includes expanded protection from deportation for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. The campaign was pushed out in conjunction with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and first reported by the New York Times.

In language comparing immigrants of today to the "pilgrims" of yore who colonized the United States, the campaign calls on President Obama, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to "stop deportations and grant administrative relief to individuals, such as ourselves, who have strong ties to these United States, which we call our home."

Vargas, Erika Aldape, Maria Guadalupe Arreola–the mother of the prominent immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola, Felipe de Jesus Diosdado, Maria del Rosario Duarte Villanueva, Michaela Graham, Noemi Romero, Eduardo Samaniego, Yestel Velasquez, Aly Wane and Jong Min You all filed applications for deferred action today. 

"For us, it’s really important to ask the question of how inclusive is the Obama administration’s relief going to be?" Vargas told The Huffington Post. "Who is going to get left out, and why?"

The group of 11 participants are meant to symbolically represent the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Among those included are Noemi Romero, who was charged with identity theft, which is a felony in her state of Arizona where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has used the law to harshly prosecute undocumented immigrants. A felony conviction disqualifies Romero from eligibility for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, said NILC attorney Kamal Essaheb. "It’s unfair that people who are targeted have to be further penalized by not being able to take part in administrative relief," Essaheb said. "Just because someone has a conviction shouldn’t automatically exclude them. We hope [Obama’s executive order] is something that’s truly inclusive."

For more about the campaign, visit Define American.

This post has been updated since publication.