December 7, 2011
By, Elma Gonzalez
Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, brought the national immigration debate to the forefront of the Ithaca College community this week by outlining his own journey of “coming out” as an undocumented immigrant living in the United States.
More than 250 students and community members gathered Monday in Emerson Suites to listen to a discussion led by Vargas, a guest speaker brought by the Park Center for Independent Media.
Vargas spoke about “coming out” in an essay he wrote for the The New York Times Magazine titled “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” Vargas described how he was sent to the United States from the Philippines at 12 years old did not discover his undocumented status until he was 16. His essay spurred national debate about immigration issues and spearheaded his own activism through the website DefineAmerican.com.
He is known for his coverage of the HIV epidemic in the U.S., which was adapted into a documentary. He also received a Pulitzer Prize as part of the Washington Post team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007.
Vargas said he revealed his undocumented status against the advice of 30 lawyers because he felt it was his obligation as a journalist to share his story and keep others from believing they do not belong in the country.