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Revoked license may increase deportation vulnerability for Vargas

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Illegal immigration has been a hot top in Washington, D.C. as well as throughout the country. Recently, media frenzy has ensued since the news that prominent undocumented immigrant and writer, Jose Vargas, has had his driver's license revoked. The license revocation comes in the wake of mass social controversy associated a story published in New York Times Magazine. The story highlights the young writer's discovery of his immigrant status at the age of 16, and his journey since that time.

After Vargas' public admission that his documentation had been falsified, officials for Washington State's licensing department have revoked the writer's driver's license, citing a lack of residence in the state as the official reason. Statistically, the loss of a driver's license can greatly increase the young man's chance of deportation. District of Columbia based Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) administrators are set to maintain a high rate of deportations throughout the current year.

In 2010, approximately 393,000 individuals were deported from the United States. It is believed that the large number of deportations is due in part to an increase in ICE action following a traffic violation or immigration based contravention of the law.

In most cases, drivers who violate traffic laws are issued a citation. However, if a driver cannot produce a valid driver's license, immigration status can become an issue. Some confirm that those undocumented immigrants who are stopped for traffic violations are pressured into signing a deportation agreement, or are persuaded to admit the traffic incident was their fault; an avenue that results in the individual's listing as a criminal, which can result in deportation vulnerability.

Being without a driver's license increases an undocumented immigrant's chance of deportation by subjecting them to harsher judgment in the event of a traffic stop. Vargas has stated that he continues to seek the advice of counsel to help him navigate his current circumstances.

Individuals who are faced with similar circumstances may find a legal advocate to be of benefit. Given the political turmoil regarding immigration and the situation in the District of Columbia, undocumented immigrants will likely require knowledgeable support to maintain their current standards of living.

Source: The Washington Independent, "Vargas loses his driver's license, increasing risk of his deportation," Nicolas Mendoza, 22 July 2011

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