Define Courage: The Jose Antonio Vargas Story
After my uncle came to America legally in 1991, Lolo tried to get my
mother here through a tourist visa, but she wasn’t able to obtain one.
That’s when she decided to send me. My mother told me later that she
figured she would follow me soon. She never did.
The “uncle” who brought me here turned out to be a coyote, not a
relative… Lolo scraped together enough
money — I eventually learned it was $4,500, a huge sum for him — to pay
him to smuggle me here under a fake name and fake passport… After I arrived in America, Lolo obtained a new
fake Filipino passport, in my real name this time, adorned with a fake
student visa, in addition to the fraudulent green card.
How Vargas made it in America: Hard work, prudence, and the underground railroad:
The Post internship posed a tricky obstacle: It required a driver’s
license… So I spent an afternoon at The Mountain View Public
Library, studying various states’ requirements. Oregon was among the
most welcoming — and it was just a few hours’ drive north.
Again, my support network came through. A friend’s father lived in
Portland, and he allowed me to use his address as proof of residency.
Pat, Rich and Rich’s longtime assistant, Mary Moore, sent letters to me
at that address. Rich taught me how to do three-point turns in a
parking lot, and a friend accompanied me to Portland.
The license meant everything to me — it would let me drive, fly and
What it’s like to come out of the closet:
About four months into my job as a reporter for The Post, I began
feeling increasingly paranoid, as if I had “illegal immigrant” tattooed
on my forehead… I was so eager to prove myself
that I feared I was annoying some colleagues and editors — and worried
that any one of these professional journalists could discover my
secret. The anxiety was nearly paralyzing. I decided I had to tell one
of the higher-ups about my situation. I turned to Peter.
…One afternoon in late October, we walked a
couple of blocks to Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Over
some 20 minutes, sitting on a bench, I told him everything: the Social
Security card, the driver’s license, Pat and Rich, my family.
Peter was shocked. “I understand you 100 times better now,” he said. He
told me that I had done the right thing by telling him, and that it was
now our shared problem.
Vargas mentions that “the Obama administration has deported almost 800,000 people in the last two years.” Will Vargas join them? How can any decent person think he should?