Releases Immigrant, Says Unrelated To Daughter's Plea To Pope
Send a link to a friend
[March 31, 2014]
By Kevin Murphy
(Reuters) — A Mexican immigrant to the
United States whose daughter asked Pope Francis for help in stopping her
father's deportation has been released from custody, but U.S.
immigration officials said there was no papal intervention.
Mario Vargas-Lopez was free on bond from a detention center in
Louisiana three days after his 10-year-old daughter, Jersey Vargas,
delivered her message to the pope. He was reunited with his family
in Los Angeles on Friday.
Jersey Vargas was part of a coalition from Southern California that
traveled to Vatican City on Wednesday to deliver letters to the pope
from children of undocumented parents, according to "The Tidings,"
published online by Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez.
The girl was able to speak briefly with the pope and told him, "My
father is suffering," according to the publication. The delegation
hoped to convince the pope to discuss immigration reform in his
visit with President Barack Obama two days later.
Vargas-Lopez was arrested in Tennessee in September on a drunk
driving charge and served a six month sentence. Upon his release he
was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and held in
a Louisiana detention facility until he could appear before a judge
for removal proceedings, said Bryan Cox, agency spokesman in New
But relatives and friends of the Vargas-Lopez family raised $5,000
to post bond, his lawyer, Alex Galvez, said on Saturday. A judge had
approved the bond request several days before the girl met with the
pope, but the money was not available until late this week, Galvez
[to top of second column]
The bond amount was not changed as the result of his daughter asking
the pope to intercede, Cox said. Vargas-Lopez is required to stay in
communication with ICE and tell agency officials where he is pending
his next court appearance, Cox said.
"Him being released on bond in no way translates into special action
on his behalf," Cox said. "This was standard procedure."
Galvez agreed that the release was unrelated to the daughter's visit
with the pope. He said her message to the Catholic leader was
related to the larger need to improve an immigration system in the
United States that separates families.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City and Brendan O'Brian in
Milwaukee; editing by Carey Gillam and Cynthia Osterman)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.