Who is Jose Vargas and why is he still here?

Jose Antonio Vargas as his desk (Image: Bonnie Jo Mount/Washington Post)
Jose Antonio Vargas at his desk (Image: Bonnie Jo Mount/Washington Post)

I know who Jose Antonio Vargas is. Now. But a few weeks ago, before CNN started hawking his autobiographical film “Documented,” I didn’t recall ever hearing of him.

He’s a Filipino by birth and was sent here by his mother when he was 12 years old. Illegally. With a fake green card. He’s now 33 and “came out” as an illegal in 2011. He’s become an activist in immigration activities all over the country and started Define American, a non-profit organization intended to open a dialogue about the criteria people use to determine who is an American. (Not complicated, Jose. An American is a citizen of the US.)

He made a big deal of going to McAllen, TX, to speak out on behalf of the current wave of illegal immigrants swarming across our southern border. And yesterday as he was boarding a plane to leave, he was, finally, detained by immigration officials. He was released a few hours later, like many others caught and detained at the border, with an order to appear for a future court date with an immigration judge.

Why did it take this long for him to be treated like other illegals? Apparently because he’s a big deal. He’s a well-known journalist who has even won a Pulitzer prize for his work. Isn’t that special? And because he’s special, he’s been getting away with openly flouting our immigration laws since 2011. A public figure, a celebrity, an example to the world that you can come here illegally and announce it openly and still an impotent US government won’t do anything.

I don’t know when his immigration hearing is. But when it comes, I hope the judge deports him — as an example to the world that we don’t play favorites, we don’t look the other way just because someone is well known or has won an award, and that even though it may take a while, the law will be enforced. Letting him stay will only encourage more to come illegally, and it’s a slap in the face to the millions of immigrants who did the right thing, got in line, and entered the country legally.

Read Vargas’s story at Time Magazine.

 

9 comments

  1. Good. It’s not just me. So tired of certain (cough. government officials/agencies) screaming you are breaking a law, or thinking about breaking the law, or we think you are thinking about breaking the law – yet nothing is done with/to those who are actually disregarding/ignoring laws.
    It’s law. Laws are to be enforced. It’s a nation of laws, right? That’s the original concept and how thing kept working for so long. Wonder why things are such a mess now….(cough…rots from the top officials and offices…DOJ….examples followed by others…..hard to teach kiddies what “law” means…)

    1. I’m outraged that Vargas has been openly flouting our law since 2011 and nothing’s been done about it. It’s like he’s daring the government to take action against him while expecting his high profile to protect him. The law is supposed to treat everyone equally, and he’s not “more equal” just because he’s famous. He’s not above the law. As far as I’m concerned, he can do his Pulitzer-prize-winning writing in the Philippines.

  2. I can’t argue with your reasoning PT, but I will remind you that this country has a very long history of ignoring its own immigration laws for the sake of political expedience. Whether it was for ‘military/intelligence’ reasons or simply as favors to the rich and powerful, there have been lots and lots of people ‘unfairly’ skipped ahead of the immigration lines. I don’t like the example set by this any more than you do, but I have a hard time judging his actions as worse than the actions of those who got around the law using the power of pull behind our backs…

    1. I know there are plenty of people who bought their legal status one way or another. But Vargas really yanks my chain by being so public about his status and what he perceives as the injustice being suffered by illegal aliens in this country. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see somebody propose he be given some sort of “honorary citizenship” or special dispensation. To which I can imagine him saying, “Thanks, but I can’t accept that unless you grant it to all undocumented Americans.” He likes that phrase “undocumented Americans.” It helps muddy the waters.

  3. I like the way immigration was handled WAY before the “Great Society” exacerbated the impression that crossing our border entitled you to a free lunch. No need to learn English, no way to survive without a job, a sponsor or family to keep you from starving. We need another Ellis Island. We need to end policies that rewards freeloaders and encourages criminal trespass.

    We admire and reward with billions the Jordanians who are welcoming fleeing Syrians, but some of us don’t want to lift a finger to aid helpless children. We’re shameless hypocrites.

    1. I might feel differently if we hadn’t been taken advantage of for so long by so many. I’m not anti-immigrant; I’m anti-lawbreaking. When there’s a right and proper, legal way to do something, that’s the way it should be done. Why is that so hard to understand?

      Of course we brought all this on ourselves with previous amnesties, confusing rules, lax enforcement, and an attitude that sometimes seems tantamount to rolling out a red carpet and issuing engraved invitations. Why wouldn’t you assume you could come here and stay when so many others have?

  4. The seemingly arrogance of this man Vargas is astounding. He certainly needs taking down and sent back to the Phillipines and barred from entering your country for whatever maximum number of years is written into the US law covering such people.

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea to freeze whatever assets he’s managed to accumulate in Ameria whilst an illegal deliberately flouting the law to be returned to him once he becomes eligible to apply for a Green Card, and without the benefit of interest, but not necessary to to allow him back into your country.

    The War Office tells me I have a nasty mean streak; she may well be right!

    1. It’s interesting to hear an opinion from outside the US. It confirms my thinking that we’ve been far too accommodating toward illegal immigrants and have invited this arrogant scofflaw attitude.

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