Facing the loss of your family? Give Pope Francis a call

You don’t have to be Catholic to believe in miracles, and on Friday the world may have witnessed one. Jersey Vargas of California went to the Vatican and met with Pope Francis, where she pled for His Holiness’s help in protecting her father from deportation. And it worked.

Well, sort of.

Mario Vargas, Jersey’s father, had been working right here in Tennessee until a little more than a year ago, when he was arrested for driving under the influence. He was being held in a federal detention center in Louisiana. A cousin saw Miss Vargas on TV and helped her family pay the bond to have him released. The bond had been set at $5000 long before Pope Francis came into the picture, but because of the high-profile exposure, Lola Vargas – wife to Mario and mother to Jersey and her brother – was able to collect the full amount from people who wanted to help.

The chances for deportation are still high

The Vargases are a classic example of what happens when good people make a mistake that has consequences beyond their wildest nightmares. Though Tennessee has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, they’re especially hard on immigrants. A US citizen would face fines, community serve and minimum jail time – but Mario Vargas faces loses his entire family. Because of the rules governing criminal activity and moral conduct, Mr. Vargas may  be deported back to his native Mexico at any time. His children, however, are US citizens, which puts them all in a precarious position.

The courts could see fit to let Mr. Vargas stay, but any chances he had of becoming a natural citizen or obtaining a green card are slim. What works in his favor, however, is that Mr. Vargas is a resident of California, not Tennessee; thus, he may have a fighting chance of staying.

Mr. Vargas may also benefit from the national exposure of this case. Jersey Vargas said that Pope Francis promised to bring it all up with President Obama, who has the power to allow Mr. Vargas to return to   his family. Since the President has been passionate about immigration reform for the last 6 years, this situation could help him make a stronger case about how our current system rips families apart.

We wish Mr. Vargas good luck. He’s going to need it. But for now, we’re happy that young Jersey Vargas has her family around her once again.