In 2011, in the midst of a distinguished career as a journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas revealed that he was living in the United States as an undocumented resident. It was a secret he felt he could keep no longer and against the advice of several immigration lawyers, he wrote a moving essay in The New York Times magazine on his life without permanent U.S. citizenship:
It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.
In the past year, he has continued to advocate for the rights of other undocumented residents, many of whom were brought to the United States as children. He is the founder of Define American, which brings the stories of immigrants to the forefront and adds their experiences to the conversation on immigration reform.
Recently, he testified in a Senate Judiciary Committee on immigration.
Where do you fall in the immigration debate? Share your comments with us below. If you’re in Northeast Ohio (or know someone who is), you’ll get a chance to see Vargas at the Town Hall speaker series on February 25. Get more information on tickets here.