This is amazing, crazy news... This week, Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino American journalist came clean with a secret he had covering up his whole life: he is an undocumented immigrant. In a New York Times Magazine essay, he went public with the truth: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.
Vargas, whose mother sent him from the Philippines to live with his grandparents in California when he was 12, says he's tired of running, tired of living in fear, and is coming forward with this story to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would open a path to citizenship for people like him if they go to college or serve in the military. It hasn't been an easy road for him:
I decided then 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.Jose Antonio Vargas is an award-winning jounalist who received a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre. I'm personally indebted to him for having the crazy idea to write a Washington Post article on me way back 2005 -- an early, significant boost of affirmation for this blog.
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.
Jose has launched campaign called Define American to use stories of immigrants like him to urge Congress and the Obama administration to pursue immigration reform. Watch this video for more on his story.
All props to you, Jose, for "coming out" as an undocumented immigrant. This is an extraordinarily courageous act, and I hope your story shines a much-needed light on the many others who find themselves facing the same predicament. You are an American.