Documented Gets Encore Screening in Miami as Filmmaker Vargas Faces New Immigration Issues
As news develops on the detention of immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas, the director of the award-winning documentary film Documented, Miami might soon have a second opportunity to see his film. Local immigration attorney Joseph Lackey has booked the encore screening of the film, and has positive a perspective on the undocumented Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's recent detention.
Vargas was visiting undocumented immigrant children at a shelter in McAllen, Texas, a few weeks ago when he was detained. On July 15, U.S. Border Patrol agents took him into custody at McAllen-Miller International Airport in Texas. Speaking via phone, Lackey says Vargas' detention could actually work out in his favor.
As someone who has successfully won permission for immigrants to stay in the U.S. after they had been detained, Lackey says Vargas' notice to appear before an immigration judge could mean the filmmaker may get the papers needed to finally reside in the U.S. at least semi-legally. Lackey says, "By putting him in removal proceedings, the Department of Homeland Security can take him out of removal proceedings and give him a work permit through a vehicle called prosecutorial discretion."
Prosecutorial discretion means those imposing charges against someone like Vargas could simply decide not to pursue the case in favor of more high-priority subjects like those detained who have dangerous criminal backgrounds. "DHS has limited funds, limited resources. They want to focus on aliens who have serious and violent criminal histories and deport those people, as opposed to, you know, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist," explains Lackey. "Once he's in [deportation proceedings], he can be taken out, and once he's taken out of the deportation proceedings he can be given a work permit, a driver's license, and he can get some sort of quasi status in this country."