Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Undocumented Vargas Detained Near Border

Send by email
Monday, July 14, 2014

Updated July 15

For Three Years, Authorities Have Declined to Prosecute

Plain Dealer Seeking Beat Writer for LeBron's Cavaliers

Rhonda Lee, Fired in Hair Dustup, Finds New Weather Job

Demoted Pam Oliver Says Disappointment Has Subsided

Five Lessons the World Cup Broadcasts Taught the Media

Seigenthaler Sent Off to Music of Civil Rights Movement

BET Apologizes to Photographer Over Snub at "BET Awards"

Short Takes

  • Update: Vargas released (The Monitor, McAllen, Texas)

  • Border Patrol statement:

    "U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol Agents operating at McAllen-Miller International Airport encountered Mr. Vargas and apprehended him after he stated that he was in the country illegally. Mr. Vargas was transported to the McAllen Border Patrol Station where he was processed and provided with a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge. He was released on his own recognizance after consultation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    "Mr. Vargas has not previously been arrested by ICE nor has the agency ever issued a detainer on him or encountered him. ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the agency’s resources to promote border security and to identify and remove criminal individuals who pose a threat to public safety and national security." (July 15)

NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports on the influx of children from Central America in the border town of McAllen, Texas. (video)

For Three Years, Authorities Have Declined to Prosecute

Jose Antonio Vargas, the undocumented journalist-turned-activist, has been taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol, a border patrol spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.

"All I can say is that we have him in custody," Omar Zamora said from the border patrol offices in Edinburg, Texas. Vargas had visited the nearby border town of McAllen, Texas.

The immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream said in a statement on its website, "Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American, has been detained by Border Patrol in McAllen after attempting to board a plane to Los Angeles." It also posted a petition supporting Vargas and added, "Jose's arrest highlights a larger problem: Most undocumented immigrants from the border can't travel freely within their own country because of risk of deportation."

Jose Antonio Vargas (Credit: YouTube)

The Monitor, the daily newspaper in McAllen, reported, "Vargas arrived to the McAllen/Miller International Airport shortly before 8:30 a.m to catch a flight to Los Angeles.

"When he got to the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, however, he was asked a few questions before being placed in handcuffs and escorted out to a Border Patrol vehicle." It added, "After his arrest, Vargas was taken to the McAllen Border Patrol station and [the Minority Affairs Council] is holding a peaceful protest across the street in solidarity with the journalist."

The group streamed its rally in support of Vargas shortly after 11 a.m. Eastern time. Members chanted, "It is our duty to win," "We have nothing to lose but our chains" and "What side are you on, my people, what side are you on?"

The group also posted a photo of Vargas in custody, apparently being handcuffed.

Kristin Hare wrote for the Poynter Institute, "Dan Kowalski, an immigration lawyer with the Fowler Law Firm in Austin, Texas, told Poynter in a phone interview that Vargas has a law firm or a lawyer on retention, though he’s not sure who. Kowalski said several lawyers on the ground in McAllen are trying to reach Vargas. For now, border patrol has just three options.

"One, they can let Vargas go and set up recurring meetings to keep track of him. Two, they can let him go, set up those meetings and put him in removal proceedings. But because he has no criminal record and isn't one of the refugees coming from Central America, Kowalski said, that could take years.

"But the third option is they could actually detain him and take him into custody."

Authorities have declined to prosecute Vargas since he disclosed his undocumented status in June 2011 in a New York Times Magazine article, although he was arrested in Minnesota the following year for driving without a valid license.

He wrote for Politico on Friday, "Of course, I can only travel within the United States and, for identification, when I fly I use a valid passport that was issued by my native country, the Philippines. But each flight is a gamble. My passport lacks a visa. If TSA agents discover this, they can contact CBP, which, in turn, can detain me.

"But so far, I haven't had any problems, either because I look the way I do ('You’re not brown and you don't look like a Jose Antonio Vargas,' an immigration advocate once told me), or talk the way I do — or because, as a security agent at John F. Kennedy International Airport who recognized me said without a hint of irony, 'You seem so American.' . . ."

Vargas, a former Washington Post reporter who founded Define American, an advocacy group, also wrote, "I flew into the valley Thursday morning to visit a shelter for unaccompanied Central American refugees and participate in a vigil in their honor. Outraged at the media coverage of this humanitarian crisis (these children are not 'illegal,' as news organizations like CBS News and the New York Times call them), and frustrated by the political ping-pong centered on border security and increased enforcement, I also came here to share my own story of coming to the United States as an unaccompanied minor from the Philippines.

"I wanted to help change the narrative of the conversation and, with a camera crew, share stories from the shelter and its volunteers. The visit to the shelter was intense and sobering, watching small kids fight for their lives with nothing more than their spirits.

"When my friend Mony Ruiz-Velasco, an immigration lawyer who used to work in the area, saw on my Facebook page that I was in McAllen, she texted me: 'I am so glad you are visiting the kids near the border. But how will you get through the checkpoint on your way back?' A curious question, I thought, and one I dismissed. I've visited the border before, in California. What checkpoint? What was she talking about?

"Then Tania Chavez, an undocumented youth leader from the Minority Affairs Council, one of the organizers of the vigil, asked me the same question: 'How will you get out of here?' Tania grew up in this border town. As the day wore on, as the reality of my predicament sunk in, Tania spelled it out for me: You might not get through airport security, where Customs and Border Protection (CPB) also checks for IDs, and you will definitely not get through the immigration checkpoints set up within 45 miles of this border town. At these checkpoints, you will be asked for documentation. ('Even if you tell them you're a U.S. citizen, they will ask you follow-up questions if they don't believe you,' Tania told me.) . . . "

Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, wrote members Monday on the NAHJ website, "Where many in Jose's situation would choose to cover such a story at a safe distance; he is risking not being able to return to the U.S. in order to shed light to the crisis at the border."

Balta also wrote that Vargas' film, "Documented," would be shown next month at the NAHJ convention in San Antonio. "Jose's reached out to me to see if any media outlets would be interested in airing a two-minute clip he and his film crew shot. I'm working with local NAHJ chapter leaders to see what we can do."

Local journalist Manuel De La Rosa, founder and president of the RGV [Rio Grande Valley] chapter of NAHJ, told Journal-isms in an email Tuesday that Vargas' detention "wasn't anything unusual.

"Whenever you fly out of an airport here in the Rio Grande Valley, you must go through security that includes talking to a Border Patrol Agent who asked if you are a citizen. We don't see that presence in larger airports though it's there, but since this is a small airport, they talk to every person. It's part of life on the border. It's unfortunate what has happened to Mr. Vargas, but folks who live here must endure it whenever we board planes."

Plain Dealer Seeking Beat Writer for LeBron's Cavaliers

LeBron James' decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, announced Friday, comes just as the Plain Dealer is seeking a beat writer to cover the team. "I'm not sure how many applications we've had, but I think it's safe to say the job has become more in demand now that a certain someone has returned to town," Daryl Kannberg, the paper's former sports editor, now publications director, told Journal-isms by email on Monday.

The issue of who covers James can be racially sensitive. It did not go unnoticed among black sports journalists that James' interview disclosing his decision to return to Ohio was not given to a journalist of color.

Four years ago, before James left Cleveland for the Miami Heat, writer Dexter Rogers wrote for the African American Sports Examiner, "It's a damn shame to find out [who] is covering LeBron James. No, I don't mean on the court: As in the journalists in the press box and locker rooms."

Rogers also wrote, "James surprisingly stated, 'They gave me two years, and they didn't understand the importance of an African American athlete being able to [relate to] someone who may not have all the same life experiences, but can understand where they're coming from,' James said. 'Having grown up in a similar fashion, I can understand. . . .' As it stands if LBJ happens to stay in Cleveland he won't have anyone that looks like him in Ohio covering him."

Kannberg said that Mary Schmitt Boyer, principal beat writer for the Cavs, decided to take a position with a health care firm in the Cleveland area. "Mary announced she was leaving a couple of weeks back, and stayed through the NBA Draft," he added.

The job announcement begins, "Bring your major sports reporting experience to one of the premier sports reporting jobs in the country, where you'll have the opportunity to work a high-profile role in a three-sport city. You'll cover all key stories about The Cleveland Cavaliers, writing, creating videos, and posting across multiple platforms including all relevant types of social media. You'll also participate in broadcasts in which you discuss the team, players, program, and season. . . ."

Rhonda Lee, Fired in Hair Dustup, Finds New Weather Job

Rhonda A. LeeRhonda A. Lee, . . . the Black woman who was fired from her meteorologist job in Shreveport, La., after defending her natural hair on the station's Facebook page, has just accepted a job with a national weather channel in Colorado, Terrell Jermaine Starr reported Friday for News One. 

"Lee announced on her Twitter and Facebook pages that she has accepted a meteorology position with WeatherNation in Denver. 'By all accounts, it is my dream job and I am thrilled to be a part of the WeatherNation family,' she said Thursday night on Facebook. Lee told NewsOne that she accepted the position a week ago but wanted to [fine- tune some particulars before making an announcement.

"The offer came soon after the veteran weather woman had lost hope of ever working in television again.

" 'A month ago, I told my husband that I'm pretty sure I would never work in weather again,' she said. 'I had completely lost faith, but in a matter of a week or so, all of a sudden, three people showed interest in me. It was an awakening is what it was. I really had given up.'

"Lee had several offers in other markets, including a chief meteorologist position, but went with WeatherNation because it's a national network that reaches millions of homes. Lee doesn’t know when she will be on-air, but says she will be on Channel 361 on DIRECTV. She, her husband, and their 10-month-old son will be moving to Denver in a few weeks. . . ."

Demoted Pam Oliver Says Disappointment Has Subsided

Pam Oliver

"Pam Oliver is no longer Fox's top NFL sideline reporter," Richard Deitsch reported Monday for Sports Illustrated. "And after this coming football season, she will no longer be a sideline reporter at all.

"Oliver confirmed the news to Sports Illustrated on Sunday night that she will move to the network’s No. 2 team for her 20th NFL broadcasting season. Erin Andrews has been elevated to the No. 1 sideline spot, joining the team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Oliver'’s last season working as a reporter on the NFL will be spent with the No. 2 Fox team of Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch.

"After a painful couple of months, Oliver said the disappointment of that news has subsided and that she has accepted her new professional reality. But it was a shock last April when Fox Sports executives traveled to Atlanta, where she is based, to tell her in person that she would no longer hold the job that has been her professional life for two decades.

"Oliver says that while she respected Fox Sports president Eric Shanks and executive vice president of production John Entz delivering the news in person, she was stunned when they initially informed her that not only was she being removed from Fox’s No. 1 NFL team, but also that she was being taken off the NFL sidelines completely in 2014.

" 'To go from the lead crew to no crew was a little shocking,' Oliver said. . . ."

Five Lessons the World Cup Broadcasts Taught the Media

Tim Howard, 35-year-old American, became a media darling in the wake of America’

"The final goal has been scored and after a month of nail-biting induced drama, it was Germany who was left standing as World Cup champions," Tim Baysinger wrote Monday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"The 2014 edition of the FIFA World Cup was filled with heavyweights, including Spain, Italy and England, bowing out early and upstarts, Greece, Colombia and Costa Rica, advancing further than ever. The Americans, who faced an uphill climb in the 'group of death,' perhaps put themselves on the world soccer map for good with an appearance in the Round of 16.

"As we look ahead to Russia in four years, here are five things we learned from the past month in Brazil.

  • "America Is a 'Big Event' Culture . . .

  • "Time Zones Matter . . .

  • "Strong National Team Best Way to Build Sport . . .

  • "Premier League Might Benefit More Than MLS . . .

  • "Fox Will Be Hard Pressed to Match Standard ESPN Set in 2018 . . ."

The games ended Sunday with Germany emerging as the first European team to triumph in the Americas.

More than 1,000 attended services for John Seigenthaler Monday at Nashville's Cathedral of the Incarnation (Credit: the Tennesse

Seigenthaler Sent Off to Music of Civil Rights Movement

"John Seigenthaler's funeral showed off the music and the moral strength of the civil rights movement he worked and bled for, sending off the legendary Tennessean editor with a mix of protest songs, Catholic ritual and political power," Heidi Hall and Michael Cass reported Monday for the Tennessean in Nashville.

"Emmylou Harris sang 'We Shall Overcome,' a choir sang 'This Little Light of Mine' and incense burned as more than 1,000 people, including the city's and state's political elites — and three generations of Massachusetts Kennedys — came together to mourn Seigenthaler's death and celebrate his remarkable life.

"The service at Cathedral of the Incarnation paid a fitting tribute to Seigenthaler, who crusaded against the world's wrongs not only as a reporter and editor but also as a top assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and as founder of the First Amendment Center. . . ."

Seigenthaler, former editor and publisher of the Tennessean and founding editorial page editor of USA Today, died Friday at 86.

BET Apologizes to Photographer Over Snub at "BET Awards"

BET has apologized to photographer Bill Jones, "one of the most respected photographers in the business, and quite possibly the oldest Black photographer still working Hollywood's red carpets," after Jones was among veteran journalists denied credentials to the top-rated "BET Awards" two weeks ago, Tanya Young Williams reported Monday for the Huffington Post.

Tracy McGraw, BET's senior vice president of communications, "did not offer an explanation as to why Jones was rejected," Williams wrote, "however, she stated that due to the extreme reduction of red carpet credentials, the BET communications department had to make some 'hard decisions.' However, in retrospect, and possibly due to the outrage incited by my article about Jones' snub, BET contacted Jones and promised that he would be appropriately credentialed at future events. According to McGraw, BET will make accommodations for the 83 year old photographer, including a designated shooting area in the shade, as well as, standing room for his assistant.

"I spoke to Jones and he offered the following exclusive statement regarding his conversation with BET:

" 'I appreciate BET reaching out to me to offer their apologies and rectify this situation. However, I've left the door open for a new generation of African American photographers to follow in my footsteps, and I hope they will be extended the same professional courtesy in the future. Giving access to Black media to capture the important moments in our culture is a win-win situation for all parties involved. . . ."

Williams also wrote, "Many publicists and journalists have stated, under the condition of anonymity, that they believe the snubbing of veteran journalists and the 'chaos' on the red-carpet was due to BET's hiring a white owned PR firm, Slate PR . . . with little experience with Black journalists, photographers and in representing African-American talent. . . ."

Short Takes

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter @princeeditor

Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.