Moral Low Ground

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning “American” Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas: “I’m an Illegal Alien”

“American” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas has come out of the closet twice in his life. The first time was to reveal that he was gay. Now comes what he says is an even more difficult admission: it turns out that one of our nation’s finest journalists is, in fact, an undocumented immigrant.
 
Vargas made his stunning announcement in the New York Times, one of the prestigious media outlets he’s worked for over the course of his illustrious career. Others include the Washington Post, the New Yorker and the Huffington Post.
 
“We’re not always who you think we are,” Vargas writes. “Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you read.”
 
“I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore,” he says.
 
Vargas, who was born in the Philippines, came to the United States in 1993 when he was 12 years old. The man who he traveled with, who he thought was his uncle, was really a smuggler. He continued growing up with his grandparents in Mountain View, California, a suburb of San Jose, where he attended high school and perfected his English language skills.
 
It wasn’t until he was 16 and tried to get his driver’s permit that he learned that he was in the country illegally. He has lived with that secret ever since.
 
Vargas says that coming out as a homosexual was easier than what he’s going through right now. “Tough as it was, coming out about being gay seemed less daunting than coming out about my legal status,” he wrote.
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And no wonder! “Illegal” immigration is a hot-button topic right now, with states like Arizona and Alabama cracking down hard with draconian laws targeting undocumented immigrants. Alabama’s new anti-“illegal” immigration law is by far the toughest yet passed, making it illegal to harbor, transport, hire or rent property to undocumented immigrants, among many other restrictions.
 
Vargas’ future in this country is now uncertain. He’s started a website, Define American, that advocates the passage of the Dream Act, legislation supported by President Barack Obama that would grant permanent residency to some undocumented students who have graduated from American high schools.
 
Jose Antonio Vargas has achieved the American Dream. He just did so without actually being American, at least not a “legal” one.

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