A high profile writer who won a Pulitzer Prize with the Washington Post has revealed himself as an illegal immigrant.
“I couldn’t hide the secret anymore,” Jose Antonio Vargas told ABC News in an interview this week. Vargas said watching other illegal immigrants fighting for passage of the DREAM Act inspired him to tell his story.
In addition to the ABC News interview, Vargas wrote his story in the New York Times magazine, in an article titled “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.”
Vargas says that when he was 12-years-old, living in the Philippines, his mother put him on an airplane bound for the United States. He said that he did not know he was an illegal immigrant until he was a teenager trying to get his driver’s license. He writes:
One day when I was 16, I rode my bike to the nearby D.M.V. office to get my driver’s permit. Some of my friends already had their licenses, so I figured it was time. But when I handed the clerk my green card as proof of U.S. residency, she flipped it around, examining it. “This is fake,” she whispered. “Don’t come back here again.”
Vargas told ABC News that he wanted to stand up for the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow undocumented students who entered the United States as children to obtain citizenship either by attending college or through military service.
“We don’t just mow your lawns and baby-sit your kids and serve your tacos,” Vargas said to ABC News about illegal immigrants. “We do a really good job doing that, but we do other things.”
Vargas won journalism’s top award while covering the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings for the Washington Post. Most recently, he worked for the Huffington Post as a contributor.