Immigration Reform Gets a New Look

Immigration-reform activists come from many different backgrounds, including the Hispanic community, the business world, and religious organizations. Now they have one symbol to rally around.

On Monday, undocumented advocate Jose Antonio Vargas joined the hosts of Fusion’s “The Morning Show” to unveil—in conjunction with his non-profit organization “Define American”—the new logo that he hopes will become the emblem for the immigration reform movement.

“It’s a way to show unity at a time when we need more undocumented people and American citizens united to ask for fairness and to ask for reform,” he explained.

The icon is an outline of the back of the right hand placed much in the same way that one would when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This latter fact is meant to send a strong message.

“I’ve been pledging allegiance to this country since I was twelve—almost 20 years ago—and when I found out I was undocumented when I was 16, I still pledged allegiance to it. This is my country,” Vargas recounts.

Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker. He’s also an undocumented immigrant, revealing this secret in a 2011 essay for The New York Times Magazine. Since his confession, Vargas has become one of the leading voices pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

This reasoning inspired the short 90-second film seen above, which was also released today.

“I think the power of the video, to have 30 undocumented people look straight to the camera and put their hand to their chest and say ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag, and that this is my home and that we want to contribute to it. I think that’s precisely the message that we should be sending not only to congressional members but the rest of America.”

It makes sense that Vargas and “Define American” are co-opting the most widely known expression of loyalty to this country, particularly because the 31-word declaration ends in on an inclusive note (“..with liberty and justice for all”).

The powerful video is also meant to humanize an issue that “that for many people is an abstraction,” the journalist/filmmaker added.

While the notion of American exceptionalism might be waning among its citizens, it’s very much alive amongst immigrants, Vargas claimed.

“Sometimes in this country we like to think that America is on the way down and that it’s not what it used to be. Talk to an immigrant, who [come] to this country to want to build better lives and make this country better.”