[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?"
Lets make a trade, this liar, but highly efficient illegal, for the welfare collecting, unproductive, probably also a liar legal citizen
I am impressed to see all the racist ignorant people coming out of their holes and taking advantage of this article to show their hate.... Let me help your understand, as I see that most of you haven't even read the article. He arrived to the US with his family when he was just 12years old!!! he is not a criminal you morons!, The only people taking American jobs from the American people is our own government that is allowing US business to outsource US jobs in India, Pakistan, Mexico, Canada etc etc... believe me, the Computer Science college graduate or Med School graduate doesn't care about the poor guys picking tomatoes on the field or standing outside Home depot, they care about the jobs being shipped out outside the country.
@Imarriedagringa Hey puto, get out of the USA and take your perra with you!
By writing this article like this, this jerk is flipping us off, not just the authorities but all legal citizens of this country. This is an outrage. And he admits to fraudulently getting a social security card!! The nerve.
If he wants to be a citizen of this country so badly, then why does he not have respect for our laws?
That is the problem I have with all of these "illegals" that want to be here but break the law to do it. If you want to join us, show us that you are a law abiding citizen, first. That's the least you could do.
Instead...this jerk breaks the law and comes on over, defrauds the Social Sec. Office, then fraudulently steals a job that many unemployed citizens would love to have, and then flips us all off by writing this piece on how he did it and got away with it.
Throw his criminal behind in jail. And revoke his Pulitzer Prize that he obtained using false credentials.
He should be given no more consideration than any other illegal alien. Just because he stayed here long enough, made a life for himself and became successful doesn't make him any less illegal. What would happen if some minimum wage worker who entered the US illegally at the same age was discovered to be here illegally today? Time doesn't negate the illegality of his entry into the US. Lack of consequences just encourages more illegal entries. Hide long enough, you get to stay. There are legal ways to enter the US. It's the people who are here having followed the law that should get our respect. All others can go back to where they came from and apply for legal admittance.
TomAmerica- shouldn't waste time responding to your idiocy, but I'm feeling lazy. First you try to equate government property with private property. Then you equate American Indian Policy, which was to actively hunt down and murder men, women, and children just to be safe, steal land they weren't even occupying, and then sell it to private parties; with Canadian policy, which was to allow private citizens to develop land and work out their differences with the Indians (usually peaceful resolution). At least 95% of Canada and a huge % of the US is still natural, and it wasn't necessary to kill the Indians. They didn't in Canada. Then you equate a couple dozen people hunting and gathering over a hundred square miles with someone taking land and building a house, mine, farm etc. Look, just wikipedia homestead principle.
I am not denying your account of American or Canadian policy towards the Native Americans. I don't have any experience in that area, so I'm not trying to give history lessons here. I don't think you understand what I'm trying to say here. The facts are
1. The Native Americas owned your land.
2. The American government took it over and kicked off the Native Americans.
3. That land filtered down to you.
Please tell me which part of that (over simplified description) you deny happening.
Interesting no one has asked if he gave a fake social security number to the Secret Service to get into the White House, how come they didn't catch this then? Don't they check the numbers with the person's information who gave it to see if everything checks out?
It simple Obama wants amnesty for all the illegal aliens plain and simple.....
No one should profit from criminal activity and that's exactly what happened here.
AH HA HA HA HA HA! He isn't a profiteer, he's a contributor!
I agree. No matter what trophy or medal he may acquire, it will never make up for the poor judgment and character he has displayed by obtaining it!
You mostly sound like bigots people this isn't your Gardner or your short order cooks so you don't care? He is a pulitzer winner, a educated up standing person. I say give him citizenship now.
What, you think blue-collar workers are less deserving of citizenship than intellectuals? Now who's the bigot?
Why is it that pointing out that an illegal alien is a criminal makes someone a racist? Get some new arrows in your quiver because that racism charge is baseless. It really cheapens the whole topic of racism to have that accusation bandied about so much.
So you think this person should be above the law, he's breaking a law that should and use to prevent you from becoming a citizen. You sound like a bigot, he's special he's better than that other illegal.
I posted earlier and felt guilty but was not sure why I was feeling guilty about my anti-illegal immigrant post. So I sat and thought and thought it all out and the guilt left, because I had to figure out what was making me so negative about this story and why I could care less about his Pulitzer Prize. The problem with this story is that illegals that even if they are illegal and successful that we as Americans would approve of them. They do not understand, nor will they ever comprehend that America was already breeding successful people, so we do not need successful people, we have our own and can make them by the dozen. America should have meant to illegal a land in which they could practice out their true character, with the freedoms it provided. However, we have seen illegals practicing their true colors in more ways than we care to and shove it in our face in the form of a Pulitzer Prize. A Pulitzer Prize will never replace what is truly missing â€“ character, honesty and all of which he does not possess!
Illegal immigrants can't collect social security. In fact, illegal immigrants BENEFIT the social security system because they pay billions of dollars into a system (via work) from which they can't collect. http://www.factcheck.org/2009/03/social-security-for-illegal-immigrants/
A lot of them work for cash while families collect welfare, foodstamps and get medical due to having anchor babies. The only one benefitting are their employers.
Let's say that the illegal immigrant population is actually the low estimate (by every account that I have seen) of 11 million. Let's low ball this and say that only 1 million are school aged children obtaining a "free" education. When it costs $9,000/year per child for education, that is $9 BILLION A YEAR we are losing in just education to people "who do not get any benefits from being here illegally". Should we also factor in medical, incarceration, food stamps, housing allowances, etc and see how many more billions the tab comes up to?
Let's also factor in the number of married men who come here illegally for a couple years to earn money for their families in Mexico. Go watch them pour dollars into Mexico on payday, try any Western Union office, the lines are a mile long. This is a massive amount of money. After they finish sending that money, they go to spend time with another woman, a liaison that has produced millions of illegitimate children that fall into our social welfare system. Each man may sire children with several women and end up with a half dozen here as well. These illegitimate children are not truly anchor children, they are born to poor women who cannot support them and cannot marry their father because he is already married. This is pandemic in Texas, folks. What do you think the social and financial cost is of a million or more illegitimate children born in poverty every year?
Where is your source, they pay into Social Security? If they have an illegal card then maybe but they shouldn't be here then.
I posted earlier and felt guilty but was not sure why I was feeling guilty about my anti-illegal immigrant post. So I sat and thought and thought it all out and the guilt left, because I had to figure out what was making me so negative about this story and why I could care less about his Pulitzer Prize. The problem with this story is that illegals that even if they are illegal and successful that we as Americans would approve of them. They do not understand, nor will they ever comprehend that America was already breeding successful people, so we do not need successful people, we have our own and can make them by the dozen. America should have meant to illegal a land in which they could practice out their true character, with the freedoms it provided. However, we have seen illegals practicing their true colors in more ways than we care to and shove it in our face in the form of a Pulitzer Prize. A Pulitzer Prize will never replace what is truly missing – character, honesty and all of which he does not possess!
To many citizens of this great country who lack information about the laws:
prospects of legalizing yourself if you are not born here are pretty slim, especially, if you overstayed your visa or entered the country illegally. Since this man came here when he was really young , he cannot legalize himself unless he marries a citizen. And since he is gay that is not an option. So pretty much the doors are closed !
Imagine you find out that you actually here illegaly, meaning your social security is not valid, and you weren't born here as you thought, but were brought to this country as a child. You lived here , went to school, maybe got a job (while using a wrong social) . You have friends family here, everything is going well... you are well into your adulthood. And now someone knocks on your door and says "hey, buddy, pack up, you are moving to Zimbabwe, that's where you belong" . So, you pretty much can never enter the United States again, have to start from zero in a foreign country, learn to speak the language and pretty much give up all the life that you have build. Wouldn't that scare you? Would you feel anxious that it would happen to you? Well that is how many people in this unfortunate situation feel, but you can't relate to that because you were fortunate enough to be born here !!! You , my dear , haters, most likely never lived outside United States, or some of you never even visited a foreign country and do not really know what's it like to live in Phillipines, or in Mexico , or in Zimbabwe ! Just put yourself in other peoples shoes, because laws can be changed , but human empathy goes a long way!
I'd be furious... with my parents. In fact, I'd probably want them prosecuted for child abuse, because that's exactly what they did.
Jennifer is 100% right. The fault lies on the parents and it is not the responsibility of the United States to take on the world's poor.
Well put. I appreciate that you have such empathy; we often forget that not everyone has the same life as we do. If we could all get around to seeing things through their eyes we might be able to strike a compromise. Instead of just screaming "law breaker" when we hear immigration reform we could try to change the law that people such as this gentleman gets a real chance of correcting his parents' mistake. We need reform because our laws don't account for such things as this.
You are right, laws can be changed. They need to re-look the 14th amendment. It was not written so people can cross into our country and have babies. I agree, too many Americans don't realize how good they have it but why should we give it away. Too many have entered this country the legal way.
Sasha, we already have an illegal immigration problem. Allowing highly publicized cases like this go unpunished will only increase the number of illegals coming to this country hoping for their own bit of amnesty.
If we continue to take in people on the "poor need help" philosophy, the United States will go bankrupt. And then you and I will be in their world right along with them.
Sasha, we have laws, now the US allows 20, 000 people per country with a max of like 100 or 200000 per region. The reason for this, so the country can absorb the numbers. Immigration is good for the country but not illegal immigration. If you and others feel so strong about this issue, write your elective officals, tell them you feel sorry for these law breakers and feel your taxes should increase say from 25% to say 75% so you can live more like most illegals do. Also, tell them to give a tax break to everyone against it.
He has always known he is illegal. He spoke his native language when he got here and speaks it still. He has family in his home country that he will never know. His parents did this to him. I certainly did not. Send all illegals back to their own countries. 38 million legal immigrants is too many. Canada allows 6 million legal immigrants. Canada loves to yap about their "immigrant friendly" nation. They are NOT dealing with 38 million legals and over 50 million illegals in 2010 alone. Follow Arizona. Kick Congress out on its ear for creating this snafu. Do you really think you can deport illegals without listening to a lot of crying? It is not possible and it is not required to keep them here. Whatever you feel about the issue, it is not practical to have 88 million immigrants this year.
oldboldgold: Where are those numbers coming from? The US never allows that many people to enter every year.
Send him out. All his supporters, I'm sure, are illegal, or have illegals working for them. Why can't the U.S. just follow AZ?? C'mon!!
Many people in this thread are deluded about the avenues of LEGAL immigration available for poor people living abroad. You also fail consider how this country's interference with the development of those third world countries affects this whole issue.
I've personally seen many americans squander the opportunities they have in this country and I believe that Mr. Vargas has nothing to apologize for. He did what he had to to succeed and get ahead.
I doubt that any hypocrites in this post would have left the country and applied thru some non-existing 'legal' avenue like they claim. There is NO SUCH THING for many of these immigrants.
I'm well aware of the absence of legal avenues for most third-world citizens. How does this guy's cheating and line-jumping make him any more deserving than the billion or so other people who would jump at the chance to do it legally, but haven't violated US law?
That is very true – legal paths are difficult and there are few, but they do exist. However, it US keeps accepting all the world poor and uneducated who have no concept of birth control – guess where we will be living. Part of the US already look like 3rd world.
The United States allowed 38 million legal immigrants in 2010 alone. If we quit stealing the brains and accepting the disaffected who are too apathetic to change their own country, we will look the same as they do. Stealing their superstars is just as slimy, each country needs to keep its superstars. I am unhappy about how things are going in this country. IT IS MY COUNTRY. I am not going to live off the Phillipines, or Mexico, Afghanistan, or even Sweden. Darn, not even Canada or New Zealand. I plan to stay home and work toward cleaning our own mess up. This man needs to go home.
Since he is so well do to now, I wonder if he has considered paying back the American tax payer for his six years of "free" education that is roughly $9,000/year per student. Any chance that we will see that $54,000 again? And I'm sure that is barely scratching the surface on what he owes.
And this is only one case of millions.......
There is no paying back done most of the time. Send them home.