Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter Outs Himself as Illegal Immigrant, Details Underground Network That Supported Him

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New York Times
"We're not always who you think we are," Vargas writes of illegal immigrants. "Some pick your strawberries...[others] write news articles you might read."

​An illegal immigrant on the Washington Post reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 has outed himself in a feature for the New York Times magazine.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Filipino who was smuggled into the United States using forged documents when he was 12. He has been living and working illegally since, in hopes of someday earning legal status.

Vargas grew up in San Francisco, only leaving when he set out on his reporting odyssey.

"I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship," Vargas explains of his motivation in life. "I felt I could earn it."

As he grew older, Vargas came to realize the reality facing most illegal immigrants -- there is no way to earn it. He consulted immigration attorneys who advised Vargas that he had no options except for leaving the country and reapplying to return in ten years.

That, he says, was unacceptable to him, so he has forged a Social Security card and worked to become a staff writer at the Post, publishing articles in the New Yorker and winning a Pulitzer.

His lack of status, he writes, has meant "relying on [an] underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me," and he goes into remarkable detail to explain the logistics of his success.

Vargas, for instance, recounts his smuggling in-depth, explaining that his family hired a "coyote," or human smuggler, to sit with him on an airplane and show a forged passport to customs officials at the airport.

His grandfather then bought Vargas a fake Filipino passport and used it to obtain a Social Security number and card. The card looked like any other except for a statement underneath the numbers: "Valid for work only with [Immigration and Naturalization Services] authorization."

The family then went to Kinko's, covered the text, and photocopied it, and he has used that card to take jobs across the country.

When the Washington Post accepted him for an internship, Vargas was required to have a driver's license -- so he looked up the requirements in various states, saw Oregon was the most likely to grant him a license, and drove out there. Family friends provided him with their address as a fake "proof of residency" in Oregon, which he used to obtain his license.

Vargas says lying and breaking the law was something he did with much guilt.

"This deceit never got easier," he writes. "The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried -- and the more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way."

Washington Post editor Peter Perl, at least, knew about his status, and decided to help him cover it up. Perl told Vargas they would one day inform Don Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Company, and Leonard Downie Jr., then-Executive Editor, together, but they never did.

He has been inspired to tell his story, he writes, because of the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation meant to legalize illegal immigrants who came here as minors through no choice of their own and have graduated from college or join the military.

His career as a reporter is over now, and he has created a group called Define American to "change the conversation on immigration reform."

It is unclear what consequences Vargas will face as a result of his confessions.

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15 comments
Kitsugab
Kitsugab

This to inform you of a person living and working in the United States illegally. The names that this person assumes are as follows: Gabriela Sanchez (her niece), Karla P. Durazo (her aunt), Patty Durazo (her sister),Julieta Sanchez (her aunt), Patty Sanchez (her sister/her niece) Rocio Sanchez (her sister), Mayra Viramontes (her cousin), Karen Durazo (her cousin),Kenya Durazo (hercousin), Karina Sanchez (her cousin).All of the names assumed by her can be substantiated through her facebook account which is under the name Gabby Sanchez.Her Employer is: Dr. Larry Stark   3201 W. Peoria Ave # A-100   Phoenix, AZ 85029Her assumed Social Security # is her Aunt's Soc. Sec. # 611-32-7757 (Karla P. Durazo) who actually lives in California.She drives a pathfinder with AZ lic. # AHT4587 Her address is: 2220 W. Mission Ln. #1095 (which is in Larry Starks name /  Phoenix, AZ 85017    co-signed for)  SRP Acct # 919-863-000    (which is in Larry Starks name)Her Phone # 602-628-3116   (which is in Larry Starks name)Family Assistance Administration Case # 00564738 (Gabriela Sanchez)Dental work provided under the name Patty Sanchez. And full medical (BCBS)is paid for by Larry StarkHer sons name is Carlos Flores-Sanchez and he graduated from Cortez High School.She was raised by her Grandmother who was a whore in Mexico. This young woman makes it easier for other illegals to obtain medications includingnarcotics and evade citizenship tests through the Doctors office that she works in.Also supplying them with false identification and documentation. I am very concerned about the illegal activities (Document Fraud, Identity Theft, Conducting crimes in America) that she is involved in. Please address the above issues as soon as possible.

Concerned Citizen 

Kitsugab
Kitsugab

This to inform you of a person living and working in the United States illegally. The names that this person assumes are as follows: Gabriela Sanchez (her niece), Karla P. Durazo (her aunt), Patty Durazo (her sister),Julieta Sanchez (her aunt), Patty Sanchez (her sister/her niece) Rocio Sanchez (her sister), Mayra Viramontes (her cousin), Karen Durazo (her cousin),Kenya Durazo (hercousin), Karina Sanchez (her cousin).All of the names assumed by her can be substantiated through her facebook account which is under the name Gabby Sanchez.Her Employer is: Dr. Larry Stark   3201 W. Peoria Ave # A-100   Phoenix, AZ 85029Her assumed Social Security # is her Aunt's Soc. Sec. # 611-32-7757 (Karla P. Durazo) who actually lives in California.She drives a pathfinder with AZ lic. # AHT4587 Her address is: 2220 W. Mission Ln. #1095 (which is in Larry Starks name /  Phoenix, AZ 85017    co-signed for)  SRP Acct # 919-863-000    (which is in Larry Starks name)Her Phone # 602-628-3116   (which is in Larry Starks name)Family Assistance Administration Case # 00564738 (Gabriela Sanchez)Dental work provided under the name Patty Sanchez. And full medical (BCBS)is paid for by Larry StarkHer sons name is Carlos Flores-Sanchez and he graduated from Cortez High SchoolThis young woman makes it easier for other illegals to obtain medications includingnarcotics and evade citizenship tests through the Doctors office that she works in.Also supplying them with false identification and documentation. I am very concerned about the illegal activities (Document Fraud, Identity Theft, Conducting crimes in America) that she is involved in. Please address the above issues as soon as possible.

Concerned Citizen 

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

He took great pains his entire life to stay here.    Feeling guilty about falsifying some papers is a waste of emotion.   This country and especially this government lies and cheats us all day, every day.    Falling for the fake strict measures and the official legalities regarding rules and regulations is ridiculous.    He didn't just fall off the turnip truck.    He has to know how this stage play works.    He has another agenda and it's not as simple as it seems.    More distraction and misdirection for those who slumber.

Stacy
Stacy

This story is so sad.  I am actually in tears over how difficult it must have been to decide to tell his story.  His sacrifice to tell this country that migrants are contributing at every social-economic level is truly inspiring. 

I commend him and applaud is bravery.   Let's hope for the best.. God Bless Him.

Jason
Jason

This guy's Filipino right?

Being born in a U.S. owned territory would automatically make him a U.S. citizen. America won the Philippines from Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898. So, that would mean that he is indeed a legal citizen.

I think he needs to talk to those immigration lawyers again and ask if being born in a U.S. owned territory would qualify him for citizenship.

SarahConnor
SarahConnor

Kick him out of the country---don't leave him here to bring blanket amnesty to illegals!!!

bigriggs
bigriggs

Send him home...

Joe
Joe

This is his home, you idiot.

bigriggs
bigriggs

No, his home is in the Phillipines.

jmfay
jmfay

Amazing.  Then multiply this by millions.  This is why we need mandatory e verify for all work and for every person working now.  That would incude independent contractor work so that illegals are unable to exist here.

Take away education and birthright citizenship (unless one parent is a legal permanent resident) too. 

Rob
Rob

Last I checked jmfay, E-Verify is the law in Arizona, has been for a few years now.And, last I checked, illegal immigrants were still being hired in Arizona.

The Demon
The Demon

You know E-Verify doesn't work, right? http://online.wsj.com/article/...

I am amazed, however, that someone could read about this man and not immediately say: "Man, something needs to be changed to integrate these people."

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