Jose Antonio Vargas

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Acclaimed Filmmaker, and Immigration Advocate

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At the Podium

Jose Antonio Vargas takes audiences deeper into his story, sharing details of his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his journey through America as an immigration reform activist; and his journey inward as he re-connects with his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in person in over 20 years. With anecdotes from both his own story and the struggles of countless other undocumented immigrants in America, Vargas poignantly explores one of the most divisive questions facing our country today: how do you define “American”?

Jose was an excellent speaker—engaging, passionate, and well-educated. Our students were in awe.

- College of Charleston

About Jose Antonio Vargas

  • Jose Antonio Vargas is the leading voice in the immigration fight in America.
  • As a journalist, undocumented immigrant, and gay man, Jose Antonio Vargas’s experiences are unparalleled.
  • With anecdotes from both his own story and the struggles of countless other undocumented immigrants in America, Vargas poignantly explores one of the most divisive questions facing our country today: how do you define “American”?

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker whose work centers on the changing American identity. He is the founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America. In 2015, MTV aired White People,  a television special he directed on what it means to be young and white in America as part of its “Look Different” campaign. In February 2016 Jose launched #EmergingUS, a multimedia news platform he conceived focusing on race, immigration, and the complexities of multiculturalism.

In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story he wrote. He then wrote, produced, and directed Documented, a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience. It world premiered at the AFI Docs film festival in Washington, D.C. in 2013, was released theatrically and broadcast on CNN in 2014, and received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. Documented is now available on various digital platforms.

Speech Topics

  • Define American: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant

Books and Media

Related News

The Hollywood Reporter: Immigration Doc 'Documented' Will Get Theatrical Release Prior to CNN Airing

3/14/2014

ABC News: Jose Antonio Vargas’ New Film Makes the Undocumented ‘Documented’

8/06/2013

PBS: Jose Antonio Vargas on Using Social Media to Change Perceptions and Policy

5/20/2013

Jose Antonio Vargas: Metro: Undocumented New Yorkers define ‘American’

4/24/2013

Jose Antonio Vargas: GMA News: Radio show on 'immigrant voices' to be staged live on New York's Webster Hall Apr. 20

4/19/2013

Jose Antonio Vargas The Huffington Post: What Would You Ask an Undocumented Immigrant?

4/02/2013

TPM Jose Antonio Vargas: How A Top Immigration Activist And A Founding Tea Partier Became Buds

4/01/2013

The Daily Trojan: Jose Vargas talks about immigration

2/27/2013

Jose Antonio Vargas for The New York Times: My Family’s Papers

2/12/2013

ColorLines: Senate Immigration Hearing Will Feature Jose Antonio Vargas

2/11/2013

Jose Antonio Vargas for ABC News: This Is Beyonce's Super Bowl

2/03/2013

CUIndependent: Proud to be an undocumented American: Jose Antonio Vargas speaks on campus

12/11/2012

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