[Update 9:45 p.m. ET] - Turns out the New York Times only got the story after Jose Antonio Vargas' former employer, the Washington Post, turned it down. The Times, already set to go to print, "tore up the book" to get the story in, a Times blog post reports.
Jose Antonio Vargas has written many pieces that have put him in the spotlight - includingÂ ones on the Virginia Tech shooting that made him a Pulitzer Prize winner. But perhaps his biggest piece yet may be the one that could put him in the most precarious position - his New York Times Magazine piece in which he explains and documents his life as an illegal immigrant.
"Iâ€™m done running. Iâ€™m exhausted. I donâ€™t want that life anymore," he writes in the personal essay. "So Iâ€™ve decided to come forward, own up to what Iâ€™ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. Iâ€™ve reached out to former bossesÂ and employers and apologized for misleading them â€” a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure."
He acknowledges what happens now is up in the air - he could end up being deported.
"I donâ€™t know what the consequences will be of telling my story," he writes.
The article has sparked a discussion online about the decision for someone to come forward so publicly and say they were an illegal immigrant.
"We were delighted to run the piece, which we believe is an extremely provocative and well-written piece of journalism," a spokeswoman for the New York Times told CNN.
Vargas is telling his story as he ramps up an effort with the advocacy group he founded called Define American, which says "It's time to have a real conversation about immigration in our country."
And perhaps there is no way more real to begin that conversation than with Vargas detailing his own story and struggles along the way.
Vargas, who came from the Philippines when he was 12-years-old, has spent most of his life flying under the radar: Using false documents and Social Security numbers to try to make it by. He even once gave the Secret Service an illegally obtained Social Security number so he could attend a White House dinner.
Though he may be a Pulitzer Prize winner, his tale is similar to that of illegal immigrants of every stature in this country, one of living in fear of being found out at any time.
In the piece, he said the fear was constant. Vargas attempted to move forward in his professional career, working hard in several major newspapers around the country including The Washington Post, where he won his Pulitzer. He tells of the difficulties in trying to succeed at what he does so well, while trying to make sure that only key people knew about his status.
"I was trying to stand out in a highly competitive newsroom, yet I was terrified that if I stood out too much, Iâ€™d invite unwanted scrutiny," he writes.
Things became more difficult for Vargas when the e-Verify program became part of the vernacular in the legislature. The program, set up by the Department of Homeland Security, works with employers to check if prospective employers are legally eligible to work.
It wasn't until Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act, which could have helped him and others who went to college or served in the military become citizens. And since he is a gay male, he also doesn't have the option of marrying an American citizen.
Finally he was tired, he said, of walking around with the question that had been posed to him after he won his Pulitzer: "What will happen if people find out?"
Because he would prefer to marry a man he can't get legally married. The sad truth is that many illegals can simply get married and don't have to hide from the law.
There was a time when it would have been illegal for me to marry my husband because he is not "white" skinned. BTW, he did come here legally.
So many of our current laws are bass-ackwards and need to change.
Who the heck has this man hurt? And an even better question, how many has he helped?
Again, I say Bravo for coming forward. I pray my children will live to see better laws and opportunities for people who aren't here legally (because they, like many of our ancestors, came here simply to try and make a better life) and will also see a day when an adult can marry another consenting adult regardless of their gender. Amen!
Some of you are such @holes! You act as if you've never broken ANY laws or as if you built this country with your bare hands – or as if the people who make these laws don't break them ALL THE TIME. As if this country was founded on fairness and laws (instead of slaughtering the natives and then using 'legal' slave labor to create the basis of these 'laws' you tout). Where is the humanity in this country? I say humanity, then someone accuses me of being a communist. You all talk about 'obeying' but this country was founded on disobedience to the 'laws' at that time which were to pay taxes to the empire that we illegally separated from.
Amen, D. Amen!!
As a naturalized American I know from experience that this country has an extremely flawed and inefficient immigration system. Many a time I have seen foreign born professionals forced to move to other countries after getting American education. FYI, in countries like Canada, Australia and some EU countries non-citizen college graduates get residence permits and work visas almost automatically after graduation as long as they are interested in staying in those countries. In my graduating class at an Ivy League university there were at least 15-20 foreign students who could not get a job in the US due to the complexity of getting an H1B work visa, they all ended up in countries like Canada, Ireland and the UK. They could have been paying taxes and making this country stronger, instead they are doing it elsewhere.
Imagine the good that intelligent people who run away from their countries of citizenry could have done by staying and applying their genius to their native land.
Yeah, imagine if instead of the founders of this country fleeing their country and illegally breaking away from said country that they instead just stayed and obeyed instead of slaughtering a whole civilization of natives then using slave labor to build their new dream.
To D: Yes. That does support my point. Thanks.
To Primo: unless you are being sarcastic your comprehension level is fairly low.
To D: There is often more sincerity in sarcasm than in blunt reasoning. Take it as you will.
Gotcha. And so true.
Some of you are such @holes! You act as if you've never broken ANY laws or as if you built this country with your bare hands â€“ or as if the people who make these laws don't break them ALL THE TIME. As if this country was founded on fairness and laws (instead of slaughtering the natives and then using 'legal' slave labor to create the basis of these 'laws' you tout). Where is the humanity in this country? I say humanity, then someone accuses me of being a communist. You all talk about 'obeying' but this country was founded on disobedience to the 'laws' at that time which were to pay taxes to the empire that we illegally separated from.
I have paid my taxes since I was 13...I've never been convicted or tried for a felony...I drive the speed limit, I carry insurance and I don't have any kids out of wedlock and expect a governement that I secretly hate to take care of them and myself. Don't compare me to someone who sneaks into this country and then gets things for free. Name one other country that lets you do that? Let me know, so I can move there. If we don't try to keep a handle on this immigration business, this country will run out of resourses and turn into...guess what...? Another Mexico. Nothing to offer its real citizens.
You actually attempted to make some sense but you keep falling back on the "illegal severance" from England and the "slave" labor that we used to build this country. If you read history we attempted to solve our problems diplomatically with England, and when that didn't work we fought for it. Also the slave labor was ended by American shedding the blood of other Americans. So we fought for that too. The logic that "you act like you have never broken any laws" is part of the growing "cancer" in this country. If that is the bar with which we measure all actions or thoughts then we are truly in trouble. He is by his own admission "illegal" so let him go through the same channels all immigrants must go through in an attempt to gain his citizenship. But he has also commited multiple felonies. So I don't know if he can qualify with that record. But he did make the decision to continue to lie and to provide stolen information. The real test is, will he receive preferential treatment due to his celebrity? That would be the real injustice.
Kick his ass out
Thanks for your honesty and coming forward. Now go home and get to the back of the line!!!
Let's be real here ............. 90% of you won the birth lottery. So get off your high horse.
I see so many people who say "Send them all back" and come here legally. In Mexico only the rich get to come legally. What is a poor Mexican going to do, watch his family starve or head north to get the money to feed them? How many of you could leave your home, travel hundreds of miles to a country that you donâ€™t know, canâ€™t speak the language and get taken advantage of, just to feed your family. Itâ€™s not easy for them and most of them are honest, hardworking people.
Then maybe they should trying to change their own country. Revolt. Fight. Anything. I hear Mexico is a beautiful country but they are so bullied by their own government and drug lords they won't fight.
The argument that people like to make about Native Americans is a ridiculous one. Yeah, people came to America and started taking over the place. What happened to the Native Americans? Their culture was destroyed and they were nearly exterminated. If you make that comparison, you are making a STRONG case for stopping illegal immigration. You can't make a comparison between two things, ignore the consequences of those things, and then pretend that your comparison was anything but hot air being wasted between your lips.
This is not a liberal vs conservative issue. As a liberal, I support immigration–but I support LEGAL immigration. Legal immigration is designed in part to protect the immigrants themselves–they can access, without fear, educational and health resources, and work under labor laws with no fear of contacting authorities or lawyers if those laws are broken. They need to break no laws to purchase homes, get jobs, go to the hospital, giving them genuine security. Immigration laws are also designed to protect the US from a higher influx of immigrants than the labor market can withstand within a certain time period, and to maintain a balance of immigrants according to country of origin. Immigrants have made America what it is today, but the US has a duty and a right to control immigration for the benefit of all, not the least of whom is the immigrant him/her self.
So...the Pulitzer Committee needs to take back the Prize, or suffer the consequences of disgrace. They either stand by, and support, the immigration laws - such as they are - or they harbor and reward fugitives.
They try to tell us illegals take only the jobs Americans don't want.....
This guy is just one example of how morally wrong and disgusting the current the US immigration system is. No human is illegal and to work and want to better your life and the life of your children should be encouraged, not persecuted!
Why the hatred? Billy Bob needs a new person to blame for his failures in life, here come the hard-working immigrants.
I can't wait to see Billy Bob applying for all those jobs that will open up in Georgia with the new Nazi-like law there. Go work the fields 10 hours /day, you stupid lazy rednecks!
Thank God you have already lost: you are on the wrong side of both history and demographics: just another minority in less than 20 years!
Why is he afraid. All he has to do is work and live in a sanctuary city. Job? Get paid under the table and write under a different name. Immigration in this country is such a joke that this guy can get around it easily.