JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An Argentine citizen who grew up in Mississippi and was detained after speaking out about President Donald Trump's policies was released from custody on Friday by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Daniela Vargas, 22, was released from a detention facility in Jena, Louisiana, under an order of supervision, according to her attorneys.
But her release won't end her legal challenge to avoid being deported, said Joshua Stehlik, a supervising attorney for the National Immigration Law Center.
"This does not in any way end the case," Stehlik told The Associated Press. "We will still be pursuing the legal claims to challenge the order of removal."
ICE spokesman Thomas Byrd confirmed Vargas was released but said he didn't have any additional information.
Vargas' lawyers said the terms of her release weren't immediately clear.
"This is an ICE decision to release her. This is not court-ordered," Stehlik said.
Vargas' attorneys expected her to return to Mississippi, where she was arrested by ICE agents on March 1 after speaking at a press conference outside Jackson City Hall that was organized by a coalition of civil rights lawyers and other advocates for immigrants. One of her friends, Jordan Sanders, said federal agents in unmarked cars pulled them over five minutes after they left.
Abigail Peterson, another lawyer for Vargas, said her client was relieved to be out of custody.
"I think that she's doing pretty well given everything she's gone through," Peterson said.
Vargas' parents brought her from Argentina when she was 7 under a visa wavier program, which allows immigrants to enter the U.S. without a visa for 90 days but denies them a hearing in front of a judge if they overstay.
On March 6, her attorneys filed a petition in federal court urging the Department of Homeland Security to allow Vargas to remain in the U.S. until they can make her case before a judge. For now, Vargas is being processed as a "visa wavier overstay," which could deny her a hearing and lead to her deportation to South America.
Vargas went to high school in Morton, Mississippi, attended a community college and then enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi, having twice obtained protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The DACA program — derided as "illegal amnesty" by critics — has protected about 750,000 immigrants since the Obama administration launched it in 2012. It allows young immigrants who arrived as children and are living in the U.S. illegally to stay and obtain work permits, good for two years at a time.
Vargas' latest permit expired in November, and she hadn't been able to pay the $495 renewal fee until February, when she reapplied, according to Peterson.
Kunzelman reported from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Associated Press reporter Sarah Smith in Jackson also contributed to this report.