“On the surface, I’ve created a good life,” says journalist, filmmaker and human rights advocate Jose Antonio Vargas, an acclaimed newspaper reporter whose work with the Washington Post won him a Pulitzer for his coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2008. “I am an American, and I’ve lived the American dream,” he continues, “but I am still an undocumented immigrant.”
In 2011, Vargas and other “illegal aliens” appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine, following a New York Times story he’d written revealing his own undocumented status. Vargas will be appearing on Sunday, Jan. 29 at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center, in a free conversation presented by My American DREAMs (also known as North Bay DREAMers), a non-profit organization promoting social change for undocumented residents of Sonoma and Napa counties.
Born in the Philippines, Vargas was sent to the United States when he was twelve to live with naturalized relatives in Mountain View, and did not realize he was undocumented till he applied for a driver’s license at age 16. After working as a copy boy at the San Francisco Chronicle, he eventually earned a degree in political science and Black Studies at San Francisco State University, and has since written for the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, and others.
He wrote and produced the documentary films “White People,” for MTV, “The Other City,” about the AIDS epidemic in Washington D.C., and “Documented,” for CNN Films. He is also the founder of Define American, a non-profit working to expand the dialogue about American citizenship.
On Sunday, he’ll discuss the recent actions taken by President Trump to crack down on undocumented residents, expanding deportation, building a border wall, and other proposed moves. He’ll be joined by Christopher Kerosky, founder of My American DREAMs, and Dr. Daniel Melero Malpica, Associate Professor of Chicano and Latino Studies at Sonoma State University.
The free event will take place at Shroeder Hall, in the Green Music Center, Sunday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m.