I have always enjoyed articles like this — they attempt to use an isolated incident in order to shift the focus of the debate and cast doubt about whether or not we are making proper conclusions… Suddenly we are all supposed to think that illegal immigrants aren’t illegal immigrants, they are simply everyday, middle class people and above who have had a few paperwork issues.
Illegal immigrants are exploited by the Capitalist system in place — oh, I am not opposed to Capitalism. In fact, it’s generally the best economic system — however, let us not dance around the issue. Illegal immigrants are the cannon fodder of many businesses… But, wait:
ted immigrant in a New York Times Magazine article. In a very personal essay, Vargas detailed his journey from boyhood in the Philippines to a prestigious journalism career in the United States. Vargas admitted to breaking a number of laws to conceal his citizenship status over more than a decade of working illegally for a range of high-profile publications, including the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and The New Yorker. The essay quickly rose to the top of the “Most e-mailed”list at the Times and landed Vargas, and his compelling story, on a major media sites over the weekend.
Vargas’s personal story is vital because it complicates the usual terms of the immigration debate: outsiders vs. insiders, deserving vs. undeserving, legal vs. illegal. After all, one can’t help but see Vargas, though undocumented, as the consummate deserving insider — an American Dream hero incarnate, transcending race and class boundaries to make a real impact through his reporting. It’s nearly impossible to see a picture of the goofy adolescent, who watched “Frasier”to better his English or hear the story of his choir teacher’s admiration for him, and think “criminal.”
Oh, that is right — we shouldn’t think of him as a criminal because he doesn’t look like one! The fact is that he broke the law. And may I say: he broke the law in a way that is more insidious than poor Mexicans coming for a better opportunity.
It sounds like the fellow would have had a life in his own country, and in fact could have pursued a life doing journalism in a place such as the Philippines. Certainly the man was not devoid of opportunity if he is improving his English by watching Frasier… Why not pursue a more noble, higher cause of being a winning journalist in the Philippines? Let me guess: money. Not desperation for a better life — just the yearning desire to make hundreds of thousands in America as opposed to making tens of thousands in the Philippines and essentially selling out your local people due to a convenience… And to do so illegally, in the US.
Publishing this piece is not the end of Vargas’s advocacy on immigration. The article coincides with the launch of new campaign Vargas co-founded, Define American. Its aim is to inspire a new conversation about immigration, particularly in unveiling the truth about what its founders call “a growing 21st century Underground Railroad”for undocumented immigrants who are helped along by teacher, pastors, friends, and employers. Vargas told his Twitter followers: “I’ve written hundreds of stories. very few on immigration. now, i will write solely about immigration.”
But Vargas, in writing openly about his immigration status in a climate of polarized views on the subject and increased criminalization of undocumented immigrants, is at risk of being deported. As he wrote in the article: “I…am working with legal counsel to review my options.”Jehmu Greene, co-founder of Define American and the daughter of two former undocumented immigrants herself, said of Vargas, “Of course he’s afraid. But he’s been living in fear for the past eighteen years. He has the support of the Filipino American Legal Defense Fund and he is taking responsibility for breaking the law.”
Well, good job for taking responsibility.
And your organization, ‘define American,’ is certainly an interesting concept. Perhaps the idea of what an American is can begin shifting towards something else but it seems that you are trying to kick up a lot of dust on a black and white issue.
You’ve broken the law — whatever an ‘American’ is, at least one would conceive of such as being legally naturalized or born in America as a sort of criteria.
Is there latent racism in the system? Certainly. Do we need to broaden our minds on the topic of what an American is? Sure. We’ve been working on that for decades now…
But do not confuse the situation.
You are an illegal immigrant who has now openly confessed to having done so, and been a successful person in America, for 18 years. Thanks for no longer hiding — I hope that your stay is short, and that you are sent back to the Philippines and you can think about how you should have come here the right way the first time.