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Valley Girl Gets Wish: After Talking to Pope, Father Won't Be Deported

Jersey Vargas had asked Pope Francis for help reuniting her family.

Twitter Jersey Vargas.
Twitter Jersey Vargas.

Originally posted at 1:38 p.m. March 28, 2014. Edited with new details.

A 10-year-old Panorama City girl who asked Pope Francis to help reunite her with her father -- who is facing deportation -- got her wish today when her father was released on bond from federal custody.

Mario Vargas-Lopez was released from a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in New Orleans, just two days after his daughter, Jersey Vargas, spoke to the pope and asked for help reuniting her family.

"It's been so difficult to be separated from my family," Vargas-Lopez told The Tidings, the newspaper published by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. "There are many men (in detention) that are suffering. They don't want to be locked up away from their families -- it's a sad place."

He said he was so proud of his daughter, "I can't describe it."

Jersey Vargas had written a letter to the pope describing how she had spent her last two birthdays without her father because he was being held in a federal immigration center and facing deportation.

On Wednesday, she was part of a group of people who traveled to the Vatican, and she was able to speak with Pope Francis as he greeted visitors at St. Peter's Basilica. Jersey handed the pope an embroidered handkerchief and told him, "My father is suffering."

She told the pope there were many other children like her whose families were broken apart by deportation proceedings. The pope touched the girl's face and kissed her forehead, telling her he would speak to President Barack Obama about the issue. The pope and Obama met Thursday at the Vatican, and immigration was among the topics they discussed.

While Vargas-Lopez is temporarily out of custody, his deportation case is still pending.

Bryan Cox, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Vargas-Lopez was released "on an immigration bond while he awaits the outcome of his immigration proceedings."

"An immigration judge will determine the outcome of his case," Cox said. "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement exercises discretion on a case- by-case basis, as necessary to focus resources on our stated priorities. Under the deferred action process, and prosecutorial discretion as a whole, ICE is screening every alien we encounter, including those in custody.

"Decisions are based on the merits of each case, the factual informational provided to the agency and the totality of the circumstances," he said.

According to Cox, Vargas-Lopez has been in federal custody since March 10, following his Sept. 27, 2013, arrest and subsequent DUI conviction in Blount County, Tenn.

According to The Tidings, Vargas-Lopez went to Tennessee because he could not find construction work in Los Angeles. His attorney, Alex Galvez, told the paper his client's bond was reduced from $15,000 to $5,000 due to good behavior. He said Vargas-Lopez is eligible to receive a work permit, a driver's license and a Social Security number so he can try to find work in Los Angeles.

"We have all felt a divine providence in this," the attorney told The Tidings. "We can't explain how this has come to pass."

--City News Service


Karen Harris April 03, 2014 at 05:36 PM
Stanley the Fool, you are in my prayers. Your hatred may kill you one day.
Stanley The Fool April 06, 2014 at 12:46 PM
Karen Harris thanks but no thanks. You pray to imaginitory objects like the Greeks worshiping Zuse that's your "Religious Freedom". You can have it all. I belive in Don't ask Don't tell. There is no justifiable grounds (Not EXCUSE) to sanction illegal entry in to the U.S. at all. I challenge you to state one that can't be defeated.
Karen Harris April 07, 2014 at 09:27 AM
At least learn how to spell Stanley the Fool! The Greek God's name is spelled Zeus! I do not think I said anything about justifiable grounds to sanction illegal entry in to the U.S. I simply mentioned your hatred which is toxic.
stanley seigler April 07, 2014 at 08:29 PM
@Karen Harris, re: "...justifiable grounds to sanction illegal entry ... I simply mentioned your [the FOOL's] hatred which is toxic. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> +++ not sure what karen said but jeb bush said it well: "The way I [jeb] look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally, they come to our country because their family's dad who loves their children was worried that their children didn't have food on the table, and they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family — yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony, it's kind of — it's an act of love,” Bush said ... Bush added that such offenders should not be treated as harshly as criminals. “I think we need to get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place,” he said. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/6/jeb-bush-calls-crossingtheborderanactofloverilesconservatives.html <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< +++ bet the pope agrees with jeb as do non-hypocritical compassionate christians ... and good folks in general ... >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> +++ BTW maybe not a spelling error ... perhaps some thinks ZUSE was the main man on the mount ... :)
stanley seigler April 07, 2014 at 08:54 PM
PS should toxic behavior be reported to the FBI ... is this a possible forewarning of another horrendous act ... PATCH your call ...

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