Local immigrants fear separation from families, deportation under new administration

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Jersey Vargas, a young girl who asked Pope Francis to help her father who is undocumented, is one of many people fearing deportation of family members.

In 2014, Vargas pleaded with the pope to intervene on behalf of her dad and 11 million other undocumented immigrants. Now, she is 13 years old and joined her father as he prepared for his first immigration hearing.

"My parents are immigrants. They have suffered a lot and I have also suffered, feeling very sad and very emotional without my father," she said. "I am just asking for her to be fair and do what you think is right."

Mario Vargas' attorney, Alex Galvez, admits his client was convicted for driving under the influence in 2014, but said he should remain in the U.S.

"It's not enough for him to be separated from his family, to be deported. He sustains a family. He's the only person that works, and he's been a good example for what it means to reach and to fight for the American dream," he said.

Mario Vargas is one of millions who are anxious about deportation. A Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday stated 1 million undocumented immigrants live in Los Angeles and Orange counties alone.

In Phoenix, many people protested after Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was deported when she showed up for a routine immigration check. Garcia, a 35-year-old mother, was convicted of using a phony social security number in 2008.

Immigration advocates fear immigrants with any criminal offenses could be deported.

In the meantime, Jersey Vargas continues to encourage other children who fear their parents could be deported to keep fighting.

"Try to do as much as you can and have faith and believe that everything is going to be OK," she said. "Not everyone has a happy ending, but I feel the most important thing is that we all try to do something."

Galvez said he is hopeful he will present a formal case on behalf of Mario Vargas on March 22. It is unclear how President Trump's executive orders on immigration could affect current immigration policy and Vargas' case.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.