Posted: Jul 15, 2014 11:16 AM
Updated: Jul 15, 2014 12:10 PM
McALLEN (AP) - Immigration activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who has lived and worked in the U.S. without legal documentation for years, was detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents on Tuesday at McAllen-Miller International Airport.
Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said Vargas was in custody after being stopped going through security at the airport. Zamora said he had no other details about the case.
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 U.S. illegally who in recent months have overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities.
At MMIA, Border Patrol agents stand beside Transportation Security Administration personnel to check documentation. On Tuesday morning, Vargas tweeted: "About to go thru security at McAllen Airport. I don't know what's going to happen."
Vargas was unaware that he would have to pass through an immigration check prior to arriving in McAllen, said Ryan Eller, the campaign director for Define American, the advocacy group founded by Vargas.
Vargas' last tweet Tuesday morning was a photograph of his Philippines passport and a palm-size copy of the U.S. Constitution. He is a native of the Philippines.
Eller confirmed that the only identification Vargas carried was that passport. He said Vargas was en route to Los Angeles and that he had consulted with attorneys before going to the airport. Eller said a "travel partner" was at the airport with Vargas, but they were immediately separated in security.
Eller said they were asking President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to use their authority to immediately release Vargas.
Vargas went public about his immigration status in a 2011 piece for the New York Times Magazine. He was part of a team of reporters at the Washington Post that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. He also directed a documentary called "Documented," and founded the activist group "Define American."