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Jose Antonio Vargas detained at Texas airport; supporters gather

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Prominent journalist and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas was detained at McAllen-Miller International Airport in Texas on Tuesday.

Vargas, an undocumented immigrant, tweeted that he was going to go through security carrying a pocket version of the U.S. Constitution and his Philippine passport as his only form of identification. After that, his tweets stopped.

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FOR THE RECORD

July 15, 3:43 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly paraphrased a statement by immigration attorney Bryan Johnson. Johnson said Vargas' detention was unlikely to help children at risk of deportation, not that Vargas' detention was unlikely to help the current border crisis. An earlier version of this post also incorrectly said that Vargas was the co-founder of United We Dream.

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A call to the airport has not been returned and a Border Patrol spokesman reached Tuesday morning said he was unaware of the situation but was seeking more information. Another Border Patrol spokesperson told the Associated Press that Vargas was indeed in custody.

Vargas said Friday in Politico Magazine that he flew to the Texas border town on Thursday, and was then warned that he may not be able to leave due to the interior border control checks in and around the area.

Ryan Eller, the campaign director for Define American, a group Vargas founded, said Vargas was on his way to Los Angeles on Monday to attend a screening of his new documentary, "Documented."

"It became apparent during our time here, in this border town [that he might not be able to leave] -- a situation shared by thousands of undocumented Americans who are 'stuck' at the border, which for them is a daily struggle," Eller said in a statement.

Mario Carillo, a spokesman for United We Dream, an organization that represents young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States unlawfully as children, said supporters of Vargas are standing outside the McAllen Border Patrol Station, where he is being detained.

In 2011, the former Washington Post reporter revealed in a New York Times Magazine article that he was undocumented. In 2012, he was arrested on a traffic violation in Minnesota, but released. He has since become a highly visible immigration activist.

While many of have voiced support for Vargas (see below), Bryan Johnson, an immigration attorney in New York who represents several minors from Central America in immigration court, seemed skeptical of Vargas' plight.

Vargas "likely knew he would be arrested by Border Patrol before he made the trip to South Texas," he said in a message to the Los Angeles Times, saying it appears Vargas was trying to increase pressure on the Obama administration to expand deferred immigration action for everyone, but Johnson said that is unlikely to help children who are at risk of deportation.

"He will likely be released in a couple of hours, free to go on his way."

Vargas' followers quickly reacted to his detention.

Times staff writer Cindy Carcamo contributed to this report.

UPDATES

9:39 a.m.: This post was updated with information from United We Dream, Define American and immigration attorney Bryan Johnson.

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