Jose Antonio Vargas Comes Out

I am amazed. Simply amazed. And terrified for the outcome. Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist formerly of the Washington Post and the Huffington Post “came out” as an undocumented immigrant yesterday, and I’ve been following the story as closely as I can from India. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have written quite a lot about undocumented immigrants—winning an award for a story about their options for higher education. I covered the Hispanic community of mid-Missouri, many of whom were undocumented immigrants, during an especially tense time for immigration law in the state.

The story was a powerful example of an undocumented immigrant living the “American Dream.”

There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re not always who you think we are. 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 might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.

But the issue with stories like this is the same reason it’s so powerful: it’s one man’s story. He is one out of 11 million. Policy doesn’t affect the singular, it affects the whole.

Unfortunately due to the nature of illegal immigration, getting accurate information about the group as a whole is difficult. How many have stories similar to Vargas’? How many work low-wage jobs that most Americans would refuse? How many work jobs that the 14 million unemployed Americans are qualified and willing to work? Continue reading “Jose Antonio Vargas Comes Out”