Mcallen (US): Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, a Philippines-born immigration activist who has lived in the US illegally since he was a child, has been released by US Border Patrol agents after they detained him at a Texas airport.
Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said Vargas was stopped going through security at the airport in McAllen, just across from the Mexico border. A spokeswoman for Define American, Vargas` advocacy group, confirmed his release yesterday afternoon.
It is common for the Border Patrol to release people on their own recognisances, with notices to appear in court later. With such notices, people can generally travel throughout the US without being detained again.
Vargas had been visiting the border city for several days as part of a vigil to highlight the plight of unaccompanied immigrant children coming into the US illegally who have overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities.
Vargas went public about his own immigration status in a 2011 piece for the New York Times Magazine, revealing that he had been living in the US illegally since he was brought from the Philippines as a child to live with his grandparents.
He was part of a team of reporters at The Washington Post that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008.
At McAllen/Miller International Airport, Vargas knew he could have problems. Border Patrol agents stand alongside Transportation Security Administration personnel to check documentation, even for domestic flights and he was carrying only a passport from the Philippines and a palm-size copy of the US Constitution.
Yesterday morning, Vargas tweeted: "About to go thru security at McAllen Airport. I don`t know what`s going to happen."
Vargas, who directed a documentary called "Documented," was unaware he would have to pass through an immigration check prior to arriving in the city, said Ryan Eller, campaign director for Define American, the advocacy group founded by Vargas.
"We had been to border towns before like San Diego and other places, but we didn`t recognise until here the situation," Eller said while standing across the street from the Border Patrol station where Vargas was being held.
"We tried to prepare for basically every scenario that we could."
The security checks at the airport and elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley are familiar to people living along the Texas-Mexico border.