A journalist's identity in America

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This morning Jose Antonio Vargas reveals his status as an undocumented immigrant in a personal narrative published in the New York Times Magazine. Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and a former senior contributing editor for Huffington Post.

After immigrating from the Philippines at age 12, Vargas discovered his green card was fake at age 16. He resolved to stake his chances for citizenship on a successful career as a journalist. Relying on driver’s licenses and an altered photocopy of his social security card, he has skirted scrutiny and indeed succeeded in his work. However, he writes:

The more I achieved, the more scared and depressed I became. I was proud of my work, but there was always a cloud hanging over it, over me. My old eight-year deadline — the expiration of my Oregon driver’s license — was approaching.

Now, despite not knowing what the consequences will be, he has decided to stop masking his identity:

I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore.

So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection.

Vargas relates details of his life and his struggles with restrained emotion yet candor. He has more to say and we will be listening.