Cesar

Iowa probation puts dream on hold for first undocumented lawyer in New York

DREAMers are finding their voices and they make sure the whole country hears them. DREAMer Cesar Adrian Vargas is not just staying vocal, he is making history. Cesar Vargas is an immigrant rights activist and the first DREAMer to be allowed to practice law in New York. But that dream has been put on hold due to his activism in Iowa.

Vargas came to United States when he was 5 years old. Originally he is from Puebla, Mexico. He had been living in New York for 26 years. He went to school there and even graduated from CUNY (City University of New York) with a law degree. When a chance came, and like thousands of other young people, he applied for DACA (Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals). And now he is not just DREAMer with a law degree, but a DREAMer who might get a chance to actually practice law.

In addition to becoming the first DREAMer to be accepted to the New York Bar, Vargas also fights for immigrants’ rights.

“I want to help our families,” Vargas said.

In January of this year his fight for immigrants’ rights took him to Des Moines, IA. During the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines he, along with Marco Malagon of Texas and others, wanted to ask the presidential candidates about the separation of families due to deportations.

“We had the opportunity to confront Republican Congress members. We wanted to ask why they wanted to separate families. And instead of answering us, they escorted us out,” Vargas told his side of the story.

“We were not asking questions about politics. We wanted to know about families,” Vargas added.

Asking uncomfortable questions got them arrested and in February of this year they were required to appear in court in Des Moines, IA. A couple of weeks ago the Polk County jury made a decision and Cesar Vargas and Marco Malagon were convicted of trespassing for disrupting speeches by potential republican presidential candidates. What that means is that Vargas now has a misdemeanor conviction on his record and he was sentenced to one year probation. Since New York does not grant law licenses to those who are still on probation, because of the conviction Vargas’ dream of becoming a lawyer came to a standstill. Vargas’ lawyer asked the judge to release Vargas form his probation in Iowa earlier, but the Attorney for Polk County argued that Vargas did not show that he has been rehabilitated while on probation. At this moment New York officials are awaiting for the outcome of Vargas’ request to be taken off probation before making a final decision about granting him a law license.

But not even this minor setback will hold this young aspiring lawyer from speaking up for what he believes is just and fair. Unfortunately, his speaking out brushed wrongly against some people and he had been receiving threats. But in spite of the threats Vargas continues fighting for immigrants who do not have a voice.

“We don’t need to be scared if we want to continue fighting and help our families,” Vargas declared when asked about the threats.

Cesar Vargas and DREAMers like him will not be easily intimidated by arrests and threats. They are not scared anymore to speak out for themselves and everyone else who still remain in the shadows. DREAMers are finding their voices and they are learning to use them

Photos Cesar Vargas and supporters at rally at his court hearing in Des Moines, Iowa in June

(bottom) Cesar Vargas at the moment of his arrest in January in Des Moines, Iowa

Photos courtesy of (DRM) Dream Action Coalition 

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