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Immigration Activist Cesar Vargas Announces Presidential Run, Calls for Changing Requirements

First Posted: Jul 22, 2015 04:39 PM EDT
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Immigration activist and DREAMer Cesar Vargas announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States on Tuesday. However, the law school graduate is not eligible to run for the office. He only seeks to make a point about the requirements for the presidency.

Vargas, co-director of DREAM Action Coalition, penned an op-ed piece for The Hill announcing his candidacy for the presidency, stating he would run in the Democratic ticket "because Republicans already have an impressive diversity of candidates." He then quipped that Republicans' diversity made for "a bad situation for Democrats' supposedly superior outreach to communities of color."

The tongue-in-cheek piece reflects on the Constitution's requirements for president and, while neither 35 years of age nor American born, Vargas argued being born on U.S. soil does not equate national fealty. He cited Benedict Arnold and FBI agent Robert Hassen as examples of that.

However, Vargas took the opportunity to tackle this very issue and how it relates to immigration and immigration reform, an issue important to him and his organization. Perhaps, a president with an immigrant background or who is an immigrant could do better.

"After seeing every kind of candidate announcing their run, I thought I would use humor and use this opportunity to also raise the issue of the constitutional restriction to run for presidency that is completely arbitrary," he explained to Latin Post in an email.

Having arrived in the U.S. from Mexico at the age of five, Vargas has been an activist for fellow immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, advocating for immigration reform. His decision to "run" has been borne out of frustration with the inaction of both parties over the immigration issue; however, he also wanted to argue in favor of a candidate with an immigrant background.

Vargas told Latin Post the country should not just want to have the first African-American president "but the country's first president with an inspiring immigrant background." He hopes to continue reminding the nation of its immigrant roots.

Yet, Republicans and conservatives have attacked the president over last year's executive actions attempting to help undocumented immigrants in the country. In November, President Barack Obama expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) to defer the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants.

Currently, 26 states are suing the administration over these actions, arguing the president abused his authority by circumventing Congress. Many of the GOP's 16 presidential candidates have also joined the throng clamoring for an end to the actions.

But, a president can do more, argued Vargas. Writing in The Hill, he cites immigration expert and McArthur "Genius Grant" recipient Lt. Col. Margaret Stock (Ret.) who explains the Immigration and Nationality Act contain many instances granting the executive branch leeway on how to act.

"A president has to consider various issues, not just immigration, but there are certain principles of political architecture an executive can follow, primarily to actually use the executive power, every drop, to move policy (e.g. immigration, economy) forward that keep American families together in a sustainable home," Vargas explained in his email. "A united family is a happy and productive one -- good for the economy and society."

If the president's executive actions are rescinded by the courts, around 5.5 million children, who are American citizens, could be affected.

He told Latin Post that as president, he would not depend on Congress' action to act, but acknowledges their role in government's structure. However, Congress has yet to successfully do anything about immigration and only the president's executive orders prevent the separation of families. 

"Only when everyone can have a chance to become president of the United States," wrote Vargas, "regardless of immigration background, can we will fully realize the American dream."

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