I was first brought aware of Jose Antonio Vargas’ story last week in a piece he penned in Politico.
He explained that he was in the Rio Grande Valley, in the city of McAllen, just north of the Mexican border. He was there to see first hand the tens of thousands of undocumented children, most of them from Central America, and observe how they were being treated. The trip was also used for a news conference appearance and vigil organized by United We Dream, an undocumented youth organization, outside a shelter for recently released Central American migrants. But Vargas had one problem: How to get out of McAllen without being discovered to be undocumented himself?
Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who won the award at the Washington Post and was the producer of the CNN documentary “Documented.” He also founded the activist group “Define American” whose mission statement puts forth,
Define American is a media and culture campaign using the power of story to transcend politics and shift conversation around immigration, identity, and citizenship in America.
Vargas was an unaccompanied minor sent to America from the Philipines without a proper visa and yet has remained in the U.S. to this day. But he has not been reclusive or quiet about his story for he announced his undocumented status in an article in The New York Times Magazine in 2011. But his openness about his situation, which I am not chiding him for, has also come back to haunt him.
Vargas was detained Tuesday morning at a Border Patrol checkpoint trying to board a flight to Houston. Above is a pic of Vargas, in handcuffs, sent by a spokesman to the NYT, with Vargas being detained by Border Patrol officials.
In his Politico piece (linked above) Vargas was adamant that he did not realize the conundrum he was in until it was brought up to him by a fellow activist. So he used his pen in the piece to voice not just his plight but that of millions of undocumented persons living in the United States.
Please visit both United We Dream and the Define American websites. I am sure they will both form an action campaign for Jose Vargas’ release.