Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 at age 27 as part of the Washington Post team reporting on the Virginia Tech shootings. He created The Other City, a compelling documentary about HIV/AIDS. He profiled Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker, and has been a senior contributing editor to the Huffington Post.
Today, Vargas, who was born in the Philippines, came out to the New York Times and ABC News as an undocumented immigrant".
Vargas also launched a website, Define American, which states, "Our immigration system is broken -- and fixing it requires a conversation that’s bigger and more effective than the one that we’ve become accustomed to."
Reactions to "I Am an Undocumented Immigrant"
So, to my fellow Filipinos who may read this piece, life in America is not all what it seems to be. We dream of coming here and reaching for the American dream. Without the proper documents, in these days of high-security and terrorism, it will be a hard life for you especially if you are undocumented.
Take a hard look before jumping into the unknown. America is a great country and it has everything to offer you –- but you would want to be here legally. Otherwise, you will go through life as if you’re living a lie that you cannot disclose. It is probably worse than hiding in the closet if you’re gay.
-- Chuva Chienes at Chiz Mizan With Chuva
After lots of research over almost five years, I have not been swayed from the view that in many ways low wage undocumented workers keep our country and our economy afloat. I also believe that they embody the spirit of America and make us the dynamic country that we should be proud of. Vargas shows that they also push us, teach us, and exist in many forms.
I was even more offended on a professional level. There’s little I despise more than when “journalists” use their position to a) drive a story and/or b) insert themselves into the story or try to make the story all about them. Not only is Vargas using his public soapbox to draw attention to his own plight, he’s using it to push a political agenda.
-- Meredith Jessup at The Blaze
The question, of course, is whether Vargas will be deported – and more complicated still, whether he should be. Some are raising questions about whether Vargas’ repeated deceptions count as a violation of journalistic ethics. And as Nick Baumann points out on the Mother Jones blog, although it’s one thing to sympathize with Vargas, many foreign journalists have also “paid thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and waded through miles of red tape and seemingly senseless regulations” to stay and work in the United States – and they may not be so sympathetic.
-- Amelia T. at Care2.com
While it’s still not something their parents would likely do because of the risks involved, as the coming-out movement has grown, American-raised youths who arrived as minors have a different attitude about safety in numbers. Many believe that the more “out” one is, the more support there is, especially if one is marked for deportation.
-- Leslie Berestein Rojas at Multi-American
Presumably, that racism includes CNN.com's coverage, which used the term "illegal immigrant" four times in its 570-word-long analysis of Vargas' essay. CNN filed its piece under the title "Pulitzer Prize winner: I'm an illegal immigrant".
-- eastsidekate at Shakesville, on Vargas' word choice vs. that of the media covering the story.
Did you read the story? What did you think?
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