In one of the clearest signs yet that Jose Antonio Vargas won't be deported from the U.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued a statement on why it didn't take action against the journalist, activist and undocumented immigrant after he was arrested on Friday in Minneapolis for driving without a license. "Mr. Vargas was not arrested by ICE, nor did the agency issue a detainer," ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement to Politico. "ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of public safety threats, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States."
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The scenario was something Vargas has said has worried him ever since he outed his immigration status in The New York Times Magazine (and with good reason: lawyers told The Atlantic Wire last year that Vargas's admission could kickstart ICE's deportation process): a Minnesota state trooper spotted him driving while wearing headphones, a minor infraction, pulled him over, and discovered that Vargas' driver's license was not valid. As Politico reported, "That triggered the trooper to look into that further and contact ICE." After ICE officials were contacted, a spokesman for the Minnesota state patrol said Vargas spoke with ICE officials but he didn't "know what the nature of that conversation was."