Award winning journalist tells story of undocumented status

This was the only identification Vargas possessed upon arrival in Los Angeles.

This was the only identification Vargas possessed upon arrival in Los Angeles.

“Being undocumented means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out,” – Journalist and Undocumented Citizen Jose Vargas.

Jose Antonio Vargas is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who came out as an undocumented citizen from the Philippines five years ago in the New York Times Magazine. As a journalist for The Washington Post, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Daily News, and The Huffington Post, coming out as “undocumented” posted a major threat to his life and career. The magazine that he released was titled, Outlaw. It explained his story and his life as an undocumented citizen. Although he lives still today as an undocumented citizen, he stands for the many undocumented citizens that live in America today. He has a documentary on Netflix called Documented, he has a show on MTV called White People, and he leads an organization called Define American. Define American is a non-profit organization that uses the power of stories to shift the conversation around immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America. “I am an American. I just don’t have the right papers,” Vargas said.

There is an estimated 12 million undocumented citizens that live in the United States today, and many people don’t realize the unjust laws against them. These people come from all over the world including Mexico, Asia, South America, and Europe. These people come to America and often leave their homes because of severe poverty, gang violence, or because they have a simple hope of being able to improve themselves and their families and live the “American Dream”. However, the unjust laws of immigration to the United States result in the separation of families and fear among human beings.

“Even though I feel American, I am an American, the law doesn’t recognize me as an American, and I’m at risk of deportation.” This was written in a letter to President Obama along with many other letters he receives from young people who are undocumented immigrants. The government sees these people as “illegal aliens”.

Many times, undocumented citizens are asked, “Why don’t you just make yourself legal? Is it really that hard?” But people don’t realize what it takes.

In order to come to America, the government looks at if you have family members already here, your education and skills, and your wealth and achievements. The “waiting list” for family members coming from outside countries is also decades long and continues to grow. It can take 24 years to get to the front of the “line” to get to America.

“I think it’s about time that we start acknowledging all contributing citizens in America regardless of their ‘status’,” said Junior Sasha Cox.