Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an illegal immigrant. Photo: Campus Progress on Flickr
A Washington Post reporter who came out of the immigration closet, got his start in the Bay Area.
This week Jose Antonio Vargas wrote an op-ed for the New York Times Magazine, outing himself as an illegal immigrant, who used falsified documents to remain in the country.
The Philippines’ native wrote that his illegal dream began at the age of 12, when in 1993 he arrived with his mother in Mountain View, Calif.
It was until four years later that Vargas realized there was something different about him. He writes that he rode his bike to the local D.M.V. office to obtain a driver's license like so many of his friends.
But when he got to the counter and presented his green card to a woman behind the counter she told “This is fake. Don’t come back here again.”
It was then that Vargas confronted his grandparents, who he was living with, about his status as an illegal resident in the United States.
Vargas said that day he realized:
...that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I’ve tried. Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.
Vargas' article has stirred a national debate, which is exactly what the reporter wants. He hopes him outing himself will serve as a catalyst to push for the Dream Act.
The 30-year-old reporter has worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Washington Post and The Huffington Post.
To read the entire article, visit the New York Times.