The Seattle Times
October 22, 2011
By Lornet Turnbull
In the months since he revealed in a New York Times Magazine article his 14-year secret about being an illegal immigrant, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas has added his voice to the divisive debate around illegal immigration.
The former Washington Post reporter, who had lied to obtain a driver’s license in Washington state, is crisscrossing the country to tell stories not only of other immigrants but of ordinary people who regularly play a role in the lives of those in the country unlawfully.
“We want to elevate how we talk about immigration in this country,” he said in an interview last week.
At an immigration conference in Seattle this week, Vargas will serve on a panel discussing ways to promote fair and realistic images of immigrants in the media.
He is one of more than 600 people from across the country expected to attend the National Immigrant Integration Conference, Monday through Wednesday at the Westin Hotel downtown.
Sponsored in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and hosted by the foundation and the immigrant group OneAmerica, the event will bring to town some of the biggest names in immigration advocacy to discuss ways to help immigrants become more comfortable in an increasingly diverse America.
It will feature more than 50 sessions — from a discussion led by Utah’s Republican attorney general on talking about immigration in a fiercely divided America to one focusing on immigrant and African-American solidarity.
Those who wish to attend can register at the door for any events that are still available. More information: www.integrationconference.org.
“The goal of the conference is really to understand the implications of a rapidly diversifying country and identify the most promising ways to integrate immigrants and for host communities to receive them,… ” said Pramila Jayapal, executive director of OneAmerica.
One of 170 presenters, Vargas will share the stories of those he’s met as he travels the country gathering material for a documentary about himself — told, in part, through the experiences of others.