Did you read Pulitzer Prize-wining journalist Jose Antonio Vargas' incredible story in the New York Times? It is a sad but inspiring tale of growing up undocumented in the U.S. and achieving bright success against all odds. It is a strikingly American story.
An award-winning journalist, Jose quit his job to start the project "Define American" to strike up a more civil, inclusive debate about our broken immigration system. Now, Jose is already facing heated anti-immigrant backlash from being brave enough to tell his story publicly. Some say that he should be deported -- others are saying worse.
Please take a moment to sign the petition to stand with Jose and "Define American" based on our deepest values of hard work, tolerance, and justice for those who have grown up on our shores.
Here's a little taste of Jose's story:
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I’ve tried. Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.
Last year I read about four students who walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the Dream Act, a nearly decade-old immigration bill that would provide a path to legal permanent residency for young people who have been educated in this country. At the risk of deportation — the Obama administration has deported almost 800,000 people in the last two years — they are speaking out. Their courage has inspired me.
There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.
Immigration is a complex issue, but I do not believe it is just to deport young people like Jose, who lack proper status in the United States through no fault of their own. As Jose demonstrates, these young people work hard and contribute to this country. They should be allowed to become full citizens and taxpayers.
I define America as a place where those who work hard are rewarded, where compassion is abundant, and where justice is still possible. Please act now to protect Jose Vargas and DREAM Act eligible youth like him.