Stand With Me, Jose Antonio Vargas, for a New Conversation about Immigration

Stand With Me, Jose Antonio Vargas, for a New Conversation about Immigration

    1. Petition by

      Jose Antonio Vargas and Define American

On June 22, 2011, after more than a decade of writing news stories (covering the 2008 presidential campaign, reporting on tech culture and profiling notable people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg), I published a story in the New York Times. It was my life story -- a deeply personal story that exposes the greater universal truth about our immigration system.

Since publishing "My Life As an Undocumented Immigrant," I've done a round of media interviews and heard from countless people via email, Twitter and Facebook. I want to thank all of the individuals who have both challenged and supported me, as well as ask those who have not yet done so to join me.

I decided to leave my job as an award-winning journalist and come out about my immigration status in order to launch the project "Define American." I knew it would be a risk, but I also knew it was long past time to strike up a more civil, sensible and inclusive debate about immigration in America. I was tired of staying silent.

We may not all agree on how to fix it, but one thing we can all agree on is that our immigration debate is out of control and our immigration system is badly broken. I believe that not only can we do better, but that we must.

Will you sign the pledge to stand with me -- Jose Antonio Vargas -- in saying that it's time for a new national conversation on immigration? Define American. Pledge to ask questions, debate, listen, and learn.

Some would say my story is the tale of a hard-working immigrant who defines the American dream: achieving success against great odds, working hard and paying taxes, and even earning a part of a Pulitzer Prize for my reporting. Still, despite everything I've achieved, the law still says I am not technically an American. I am undocumented. 

I want to ask my fellow Americans: what would you do, if you found out at age 16 that you didn't have the right papers? As a journalist, my job is to ask questions that spark conversation. Now I am asking you to join in. 

Sign the pledge to "Define American", share it with everyone you know, and then leave us a comment about what you would do if you found out you were undocumented. I will bring your comments with me as I head to the next round of media interviews.

We all have a story to tell, so let's talk. Let's debate. Most importantly, let's listen.


Like Jose Antonio Vargas, I believe that our nation's immigration woes are complex. Still, if we listen to one another and begin asking the right questions now, I believe we can fix them -- together. I believe it is time for a new national conversation on immigration.

I pledge to ask questions, debate, listen, and learn. I define American.

Recent signatures


    1. YouTube Campaign Seeks to Spark New Immigration Dialogue

      Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist famous for outing himself as an illegal U.S. immigrant in The New York Times, and his organization Define American have launched a social media campaign to start a conversation about illegal immigrants and reforming the immigration system.

      The campaign encourages Americans all across the world to share their personal stories about “what it means to be an American” and the effects of the immigration system on their lives. Users can share their story via text, audio or in the form of a YouTube video.

    2. New York mayor hails outstanding Filipino-Americans

      "Pulitzer Award-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, whose controversial coming-out as an undocumented immigrant was both cheered and criticized, won the Courage of Conviction award..."

    3. Reached 100,000 signatures
    4. Close to 100k!

      Jose is close to his goal of 100,000 people pledging to create a more civil, rational immigration conversation in the U.S. Help him hit 100k by spreading the word on Facebook/Twitter. Thanks!

    5. In "18 Years," Jose reflects on his journey to the U.S.

      Jose: "I've been trying to think of the best way to commemorate this day, this kind of "18th America Day" for me. To honor it, I'd like to ask you to join me in doing something very simple: Will you take a moment and tell your mother thank you?"

    6. Are you following Jose on twitter?

      Check out @joseiswriting and @defineamerican to stay updated on what is going on with Jose. Of course, don't forget to follow @changeimmigrant for the latest and greatest immigrant rights campaigns you won't want to miss. Thanks for signing!

    7. "Jose Antonio Vargas: A DREAM Act Deferred?"

      Vargas: "These students aspire to be doctors and lawyers, engineers and teachers. But their dreams are dashed, their future limited, because they lack the legal status to qualify for financial aid. They came to America without documents as minors..."

    8. NYIC Teams with Jose Antonio Vargas to Support DREAMers

      "To fundraise for this program, the Fund for Public Advocacy will be holding a screening of Entre Nos, a film about the struggles of an undocumented immigrant mother trying to provide for her children. As part of the film..."

    9. Vargas interviewed in "This Land Is Your Land"

      "America is an interesting thing because it's an ideal that you try to live up to. This country promises so much individuality when it says ''all men are created equal.'' Being an American is something that I've always wanted to live up to..."

    10. MetroWeekly’s Sean Bugg interviews Jose Antonio Vargas

      Joe Sudbay of AMERICABlog writes: "Definitely worth a read. Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who is openly gay, made a splash this summer when he came out as undocumented."

    11. Obama Administration Halts Some Deportations; a Help to Jose Vargas?

      "Today, the Obama administration announced that it would not seek deportation of immigrants such as Vargas who had been brought here as children... It is not yet known how this will affect Vargas' case specifically..."

    12. genConnect interviews Jose Antonio Vargas: "I'm an American..."

      WATCH: "We are living in the golden age of storytelling... how do we personalize this issue..."

    13. New Comment from Member William House

      Comment: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other. Zechariah 7:9-10"

    14. Less than 3,000 signatures needed... please share!

      If you haven't shared Jose's story with your friends, now is the time. Jose only needs 3,000 more signatures to reach his goal of 100,000 people standing up for a new conversation about immigration is this country. Share it on Facebook today!

    15. Why is CIS so Scared of Jose Antonio Vargas?

      Stephen Piggott writes, "The honesty Vargas displayed in coming out as an undocumented immigrant, of course, has made him a threat..."

    16. New Comment from Member Roger Parkhurst

      "No matter the discussion between adults, children born here or left here without parents should not be held responsible. It is not our custom nor it is within good conscience to deny them, at least, a homeland and all that comes with it."

    17. New Comment from Member Molly Gourneau

      "Oh snap. I saw this guy on the Colbert Report...I'll support this, so long as the people staying here move their weight, which a lot of them do. The system needs to change, it's ridiculously tedious for no reason."

    18. Rodel Rodis: "What Happened in Vegas with Vargas"

      "What was not predictable was that 50 Filipinos hearing about Jose’s story from Jose himself on May 14, 2011 would keep his secret for six weeks. Simply incredible! What happened in Vegas actually stayed in Vegas."

    19. Letter from Jose's high school speech coach, Richard Haas

      "Jose is a hero ­— my hero. He worked to be the best he could be, asking nothing of our country beyond the right to stay where his mother sent him as a young boy. He is another example of why we need to pass the Dream Act."

    20. BlogHer: "Bloggers Can Change the Conversation"

      Grace Hwang Lynch: "Vargas and his colleagues atDefine American, see women bloggers – Republicans and Democrats – as key influencers in starting the discussion about immigration..."

    21. New Comment from Member Robert Eppler

      "Thank you Mr. Vargas. You helped me remember the best things about being a teacher and why I still believe in the American Dream." Have you joined the conversation yet? Leave a comment, post to Facebook, and help spread the word!

    22. Wow! Just 5,000 to go

      Jose is less than 5,000 signatures away from his goal of hitting 100,000 pledges of support to bring with him as he meets with elected officials, TV anchors, and more, pushing for a new immigration conversation in the U.S. Help spread the word!

    23. Atlantic Wire: "What's Happened to Jose Antonio Vargas..."

      "Vargas’s piece illustrates that their stories do not necessarily align with the usual media stereotypes... His goal has been to gather 100,000 signatures to signal a call for a "new national conversation on immigration."

    24. New Comment from Member Isabel Rico

      "I was proud to add my signature to this petition. Seeing is believing, and I have both seen and heard things that would shock anyone who is unfamiliar with the struggles of undocumented peoples... It is time to speak up for one another." -- Isabel

    25. Jose's license revoked, as he keeps fighting for a new immigration debate

      Jose writes, "Last night I learned that my driver's license from the state of Washington is being revoked-- my small loss is a reminder of the collective struggle of thousands and thousands of other hopeful immigrants..."


    Reasons for signing

    • adriane bellard OKC, OK
      • about 2 years ago


    • teresa mello SONOMA, CA
      • about 2 years ago

      What we need is a sensible conversation, instead of a predjudiced one, I think he was brave to come out!

    • Sheree Rivera BEAR, DE
      • about 2 years ago


    • Elena Rothermel KIRKLAND, WA
      • about 2 years ago

      This is a human rights issue that need to be redefined in more compassionate terms within the law before it is too late.

    • Nancy Komlanc URBANA, IL
      • about 2 years ago

      We are all children of the world!


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