Editorial: Vargas puts a face to a cause

Last week, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist shocked the country by publicly admitting to a secret that he had been harboring for years. Jose Antonio Vargas, 30, admitted that he is an illegal immigrant.

Vargas’ mother sent him from the Philippines to live with his grandparents in California when he was 12, promising him that she wouldn’t be far behind him. However, she didn’t make it, and Vargas has had to live a double life ever since. His grandfather purchased a fake green card and faked other documents for him.

Though becoming a college graduate seemed like an unreachable goal for Vargas, he defied expectations at San Francisco State University. He then started climbing the newspaper ladder, first in internships at the San Francisco Chronicle and the Philadelphia Daily News, before eventually being hired on at The Washington Post.

With such a promising future, why did Vargas decide to risk it all by coming out publicly? In his New York Times Magazine essay, he wrote, “I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore.”

Vargas’ new mission is to push Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrant students who graduate from high school, are of good moral character, and have been living in the country continuously for at least five years.

At the end of last year, the DREAM Act was defeated on the Senate floor. On May 11 of this year, it was reintroduced.

Proponents of the DREAM Act, like Vargas, say there’s great economic incentive for passing it. A University of California, Los Angeles study estimates that between $1.4 and $3.6 trillion in taxable income would be generated over a 40-year period through DREAM Act beneficiaries.

Critics of the DREAM Act point out that the U.S. government should not reward people for breaking its laws, which is a valid point. At the same time, should we punish someone like Vargas, who is clearly a productive member of society and a high achiever, for something his mother did when he was 12 years old?

In our front page story, Prof. William Perez from Claremont Graduate University pointed out that the path to U.S. citizenship is an extremely difficult one and that one cannot simply apply for citizenship.  The process can take years, if it happens at all.

Vargas did something very brave — after all, how many of us would risk all of the comforts of our current lives for a cause? Today, he faces deportation, but he has pushed the issue of immigration reform into the spotlight. To support him or to donate, visit defineamerican.com. ♦

5 Responses to “Editorial: Vargas puts a face to a cause”

  1. I just want to know if the Pulitzer is being taken away from him?

  2. B. says:

    I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. You state that Vargas is a “productive member of society,” but here is the reality – all of his past work will now be subject to strict review for honesty and integrity. He has lied and deceived. He has broken state and federal laws. I’m not talking just immigration laws, but laws that every citizen in the country is expected to adhere to and that citizens wind up in jail for breaking. If he isn’t penalized in some fashion, it tells the rest of the world that the US doesn’t stand by its own laws or protect its borders.
    I admit that the situation with immigration is horrible, but that shouldn’t give people a free pass. We actually have more avenues for becoming a legal resident then many other countries in the world and our border control isn’t half as strict as other countries. Not only that, but if I were to go to another country, I might be asked several times to show documentation – yet, everyone who is angry in the US about stricter immigration laws and policing get upset about showing documentation in a fashion that is required in most other areas of the world.
    As for the DREAM Act. Fine. Let’s pass it. But, lets also do the following: 1) give ALL citizens of the United States, no matter the state that a person lives in, the ability to go to the college of their choice – fully funded – no matter if it’s out of state or in-state and without paying higher tuition. (this was part of the original DREAM Act request) 2) Everyone currently in jail for using forged documents, ID theft, lying on federal or state documentation, et cetera….let them all go. After all, if its ok for illegal immigrants to hurt people by committing these crimes, why should existing citizens also not receive the same preferential treatment. 3) Issue a press release to everyone in the world currently living in a country where the standard of living is poor that states – come to the US, break the laws and then issue a very heartfelt story to sway the masses so that you’re not punished for thumbing your nose in the face of the citizens who have to follow those laws.
    I’m sorry, but Jose Antonio Vargas had options. At no point in his story does he ever mention making ANY attempt at trying to find a legal means to live in this country. Yes, he may have had to leave, but b/c he had already lived here the chances of re-entry is actually higher b/c of his successes. Also, at no point did he use his talents to try and help the people of the Philipines. It’s sad that he has succeeded so much s and yet didn’t extend his talents to the people in his home country that would need his reporting skills most. His mother is still there and yet he continues to say that in his heart he “American.” No, he’s Filipino living in the United States illegally. He needs to accept that fact and the crimes he’s committed, accept whatever penalties he receives for breaking laws and hurting the American public by breaking these laws, leave the country and re-enter legally.

  3. Pedro A. says:

    You must watch this “MESSAGE TO THE WORLD”.



  1. […] moral character and will Obama use him as an example and dismiss all the uses of document fraud ?http://www.nwasianweekly.com/2011/06/ediIf you will please look at this link. The documentation that Vargas obtained over the years – […]

  2. […] ImmigrationNPRVideo: Mandeep Chahal and Jose Antonio Vargas Discuss DREAM Act in D.C.Patch.comEditorial: Vargas puts a face to a causeNorthwest Asian WeeklyContra Costa Times -St. George Daily Spectrum -Change.org (blog)all […]

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