He’s been called America’s most famous undocumented immigrant. Now, President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration is set to change all of that for Jose Antonio Vargas.
“They said they would extend deferred action, so there’s no age limit, so I would qualify,” Vargas told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “And then when they said something along the lines of people like me can apply for advanced parole, so we could actually leave the country, and travel, that’s when I started thinking, what does that mean for me?”
Vargas was an established journalist who shot to greater fame when he announced that he was an undocumented immigrant in The New York Times Magazine in 2011. Ever since, he’s taken up the cause of immigrants living in the shadows, most notably as an activist with his organization Define American and a director of the CNN documentary ‘Undocumented.’
“I’ve only been doing this for three and a half years, but I think our goal here is to tell Americans that this is not only a Latino issue, it’s not only an Asian issue, it’s an American issue,” Vargas said.
When asked whether he thinks there is a compelling legal argument to be made by Republicans against Obama’s actions, Vargas pointed to the history of executive actions on immigration made by 11 presidents. Then, he switched the terms of the debate.
“To me this is a moral argument that the Republican party cannot win,” Vargas said. “In the same way that coming out of LGBT people changed the LGBT community, now is the time for undocumented people everywhere, especially if you qualify, if you’re one of the five million people who qualify for this thing – now is the time for us to come out.”
Besides a visit to the mother in the Philippines that Vargas hasn’t seen since he left his home country at the age of 12, Vargas isn’t sure what his future holds. But he knows it’s changed dramatically from what he envisioned just a few years ago as a reporter.
“I feel like I’ve allowed myself, and the government is allowing me, to be my fullest self,” Vargas said. “Sometimes I don’t even remember who that person was three-and-a-half years ago.”