Journalist Comes Clean: I'm an Illegal Immigrant

Jose Antonio Vargas is tired of hiding after 19 years of deception
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2011 12:35 PM CDT
Journalist Comes Clean: I'm an Illegal Immigrant
File photo: Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas wants a real one of these.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The name Jose Antonio Vargas may not be familiar, but there's a decent chance you've read his work as a journalist if you're a fan of the Washington Post (where he shared a Pulitzer for coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings), the Huffington Post, or the New Yorker (where he profiled Mark Zuckerberg). In a New York Times Magazine essay published online today, Vargas comes clean about his history: He is an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines who came over to live with his grandparents in California at age 12 in 1993. He details the life of deception he's had to lead, down to fake IDs (including a doctored Social Security card) and lies to employers about his citizenship.

"I’m done running," writes Vargas. "I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore." Vargas fessed up to all his previous employers before today's article ran with a "mix of humiliation and liberation." He's consulting with legal counsel but knows he might well end up back in the Philippines. "I’ve created a good life," he writes. "I’ve lived the American dream." But he's just plain tired of "living a different kind of reality" in constant fear of being found out. Click to read the full essay. (Read more undocumented immigrant stories.)

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