The Story About Jose Antonio Vargas Puts a Face on the U.S. Immigration Problem

June 25, 2011

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has written for The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle.

He came out of the closet twice. Once in high school when he admitted he was gay, and this week when he wrote a story for The New York Times Magazine, "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant". Jose Vargas is an illegal alien.

Vargas left the Philippines when he was 12. His mother wanted him to have a better life so she put him on a plane to California to live with his grandparents who were naturalized United States citizens.

Like most undocumented aliens, Vargas did not know he was in the U.S. illegally until he tried to get a learning permit for a driver's license when he was 16.  The woman at the DMV looked at the fake green card that his lolo had given him and told him it wasn't valid. She warned him him not to show it to anyone.

After the incident, he confronted his grandfather and learned the truth.

The majority of the undocumented children attend school and interact with friends like any other child until the day when they are slapped in the face with the reality that they are undocumented.

In his heartfelt story Vargas writes:
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I wonder how many undocumented children have mouthed those same words. As I reflect on the undocumented students that I have the privilege of teaching or have had the opportunity to meet, I realize that most exemplify and exceed the definition of a good American.  They are hard working, incredibly pure-hearted and focused on academic and lifetime success. Whether they work in the fields alongside their parents or move on to college and careers, they demonstrate patriotism, volunteer in their schools and communities, and are dedicated to the idea that they have something valuable to contribute to society.

The undocumented alien children are Americans in every sense except for legal documnentation. They are here through no fault of their own. They grew up in the U.S. and know no other home. If nothing else, the story of Vargas should open many eyes and push for the D.R.E.A.M. Act's passage and movement on comprehensive immigration reform.

Perhaps I should clarify.  When I say open many eyes, I mean open the eyes of the American people. We cannot expect to open the eyes of the members of the U.S. Congress right now. The majority of the members are blinded by their own self-serving agendas and focused only on partisan, irresponsible game playing. Since the majority of the members vote primarily to ensure their own re-election rather than to advance our country's or citizens' needs, as citizens we need to push this issue to the forefront and let these members know that they will be booted from office unless they act upon this and other important issues.

Jose Vargas has a blog called Define American, which is intended to move the conversation about immigration reform forward. I suggest that you visit it and become part of the conversation!

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vargas is not alone, there are millions

Anonymous said...

It is madness to conclude that Vargas is an American just because he's in the U.S. If he or his family want to make him an American, there is a legal process to go through. Millions more wait their turn after having filed legal applications to immigrate. We cannot allow anyone who makes it through the border to claim citizenship.

Anonymous said...

Vargas is a fluke. Sure there are millions of undocumented aliens in the US. There are also over one hundred thousand undocumented alien criminals in the US. Gangs from El Salvador like MS-13, the Mexican Mafia and so forth. You can't look at Vargas and assume that all undocumented aliens are pulitzer prize material. Far from it. If you look at any city or town with a large population of poor immigrants you will see crime skyrocket. Gangs flourish in these neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

5:09 Please give me the link to your data that crime where there are immigrants has skyrocketed and they are the ones committing it. Funny, 'cuz in the CNMI the largest percentage of criminals are the natives.

Anonymous said...

http://www.usillegalaliens.com/impacts_of_illegal_immigration_gangs.html

These gangs are made up of legal and illegal aliens. The liberals want blanket amnesty for these hardened criminals. The US sends them to college for free, gives them money and they commit crimes. We need to get a handle on the situation. As for the CNMI, there have been cases of former Abu Sayaf terrorists living and working in the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

7:10, In the NMI the workers originally came in legally.
For the workers to be able to be able to be legally employed in the NMI they had to have a criminal records check in their own country prior to any contracts and travel document being issued.
Also the majority of the worker that came to the NMI had worked overseas before except for the Chinese and Bangladeshi.
This is one of the reasons there are very few crimes committed by CW.(except by a few and usually that is drugs)
Not being racist, but it has been reported many times that in the US there are much more blacks and Latino in jails than whites and Asians.(forgot the numbers)
And as you say about NMI "natives" which I am assuming that you are including Pcific Islanders,(FAS).
FAS seem to make up almost half of the crimes in the NMI.(by looking at the police reports) For the jail population in Hawaii, it is majority "natives" with the biggest balance being A. Samoan.
There seems to be many criminals that come into the US illegally and Latino seem to "blend" in better with the black, especially in the Ghetto areas, which allows easier gang recruitment.

Wendy Doromal said...

Here are some statistics and links:

Fact Check, Illegal Immigrants and Crime

California Counts, a report written in 2008 states:" . . . in California, U.S.-born men have an institutionalization rate that is 10 times higher than that of foreign-born men (4.2% vs. 0.42%)." It also concluded: "U.S.-born men have incarceration rates that are 2.6 times higher than those of foreign-born men."

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of that is attributable to the fact that the vast majority of illegals apprehended for criminal acts are deported rather than incarcerated?

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States

These are the real stats and facts.

Anonymous said...

send these illegals back to where they belong. get them outta here. they are a monetary and social burden we should not have to support.

Anonymous said...

Undocumented immigrants tend to bring down crime rates when they move into a neighborhood. Some people say it's because they choose the worst neighborhoods to begin with, or because they reduce reporting/contact with the police. Other people say that undocumented immigrants really are much less criminal than their usually poor US-born neighbors. But whatever the mechanism, the statistics are there, that crime rates in a neighborhood fall when the undocumented immigrant communities move in. Unfortunately, I don't have time to look for the citation, but maybe someone else can find it.

Anonymous said...

As for Vargas, it's a touching story, but it's unfortunate that it's only about ONE guy, so it doesn't reveal the broader reality that "illegal" immigrants are regular people among us -- and not, as the right-wing loonies would have it, all Mexican criminals. There is a parallel with the gay rights movement, which sought to show that gays are regular people all around us (and in both cases, it's a circular problem, because the key is for people to "come out," which they can't do if there's so much hate).

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:00pm says "send these illegals back to where they belong. get them outta here. they are a monetary and social burden we should not have to support."

more than 90% of CNMI populations are in food stamps/wic/medicaid welfare and you still have the guts to say that? you want data? ask every person here.

mehearemsay said...

"90% of the the CNMI population are on food stamps, WIC,and welfare" seems kind of high. Any factual proof of this?

Anonymous said...

mehearemsay, have you not read newspaper lately? it is even more than!

Anonymous said...

noni 1:18, thanks, that is about what I remember in the stats. This has been on programs such as 20/20, CNN etc. over the years with about the same numbers. these numbers comes out every so often when someone sues for racial persecution by the police.
Look at the news pictures when rioting and looting happen.
How many white or Asian people do you see in the crowds. (Not saying that it does not happen)

Anonymous said...

noni 1:18 and noni 11:24

You are quoting a disputed Wikipedia article! Get some validated stats!!!

Anonymous said...

Noni, 1:46pm Take your pick on the numbers. There is much more following the same lines on the prison population.
Many areas are disproportionate according the prevalent nationalities in the surrounding areas.But this is the number on the whole across the US including the private prisons.

Project America,
White- 490 per 100k population
Black- 3200 per 100k
Hispanic-1250 per 100k

Prisoners of the US Census,
White 397 per 100k
Black- 2531 per 100k
Hisp- 957 per 100k

US Govt Stats,over 2 mil incarcerated,
White 58.8%
Black 38.0%
Hisp. 34.0%

Wendy Doromal said...

I am unsure how a conversation about undocumented aliens became a conversation that breaks down prison population by race! The statistics I provided in a comment posted at 11:23 illustrate that undocumented aliens do not commit more crimes than residents, as was suggested by one commenter.

Anonymous said...

> How many white or Asian people do you see in the crowds. (Not saying that it does not happen)

The old "I'm not racist, but..."

Anonymous said...

How can Anon 7:50's U.S. Govt. statistics on prison populations be correct? 58.8% + 38.0% + 34% = 122.8%

Anonymous said...

anon 7:56pm, maybe the 22.8% are Asians hahaha... weak!