Meet Jose Antonio Vargas, a Filipino illegal alien who was smuggled into the United States in 1993, and basically squatted here ever since. Well, it’s 2011, and he’s had a sudden attack of conscience, one that the New York Times paid handsomely for.
They printed his confession on 22 June.
Some excerpts from his “contributions”:
The “uncle” who brought me here turned out to be a coyote, not a relative, my grandfather later explained. 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. (I never saw the passport again after the flight and have always assumed that the coyote kept it.) 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.
Using the fake passport, we went to the local Social Security Administration office and applied for a Social Security number and card. It was, I remember, a quick visit. When the card came in the mail, it had my full, real name, but it also clearly stated: “Valid for work only with I.N.S. authorization.”
When I began looking for work, a short time after the D.M.V. incident, my grandfather and I took the Social Security card to Kinko’s, where he covered the “I.N.S. authorization” text with a sliver of white tape. We then made photocopies of the card. At a glance, at least, the copies would look like copies of a regular, unrestricted Social Security card.
……For more than a decade of getting part-time and full-time jobs, employers have rarely asked to check my original Social Security card. When they did, I showed the photocopied version, which they accepted. Over time, I also began checking the citizenship box on my federal I-9 employment eligibility forms. (Claiming full citizenship was actually easier than declaring permanent resident “green card” status, which would have required me to provide an alien registration number.)
…… After a choir rehearsal during my junior year, Jill Denny, the choir director, told me she was considering a Japan trip for our singing group. I told her I couldn’t afford it, but she said we’d figure out a way. I hesitated, and then decided to tell her the truth. “It’s not really the money,” I remember saying. “I don’t have the right passport.” When she assured me we’d get the proper documents, I finally told her. “I can’t get the right passport,” I said. “I’m not supposed to be here.”
She understood. So the choir toured Hawaii instead, with me in tow.
He used a false passport, his family fraudulently obtained an SSN for him, and he lied about his status, claiming full citizenship instead of his actual green card. And he screwed his classmates out of a trip to Japan, to boot.
None of which seemed to bother his high school principal, Pat Hyland, or the school district superintendent, Rich Fischer, who became his ‘mentors’. They aided this felon by connecting him to a scholarship fund at San Francisco State University. The fund was not concerned with immigration status. There’s a pattern there.
Oh, and as an added bonus, he’s gay:
Later that school year, my history class watched a documentary on Harvey Milk, the openly gay San Francisco city official who was assassinated. This was 1999, just six months after Matthew Shepard’s body was found tied to a fence in Wyoming. During the discussion, I raised my hand and said something like: “I’m sorry Harvey Milk got killed for being gay. . . . I’ve been meaning to say this. . . . I’m gay.”
Of all his employers, least one prospect had integrity:
I applied to The Seattle Times and got an internship for the following summer.
But then my lack of proper documents became a problem again. The Times’s recruiter, Pat Foote, asked all incoming interns to bring certain paperwork on their first day: a birth certificate, or a passport, or a driver’s license plus an original Social Security card. I panicked, thinking my documents wouldn’t pass muster. So before starting the job, I called Pat and told her about my legal status. After consulting with management, she called me back with the answer I feared: I couldn’t do the internship.
When the Washington Post offered him a job, his “support network” in Portland, Oregon 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.
He conned the DMV into a driver’s license, without a birth certificate, no less:
……At the D.M.V. in Portland, I arrived with my photocopied Social Security card, my college I.D., a pay stub from The San Francisco Chronicle and my proof of state residence — the letters to the Portland address that my support network had sent. It worked.
He was hired by the WaPo in 2003, and was maintained on their payroll until 2008, even after they found out he was an illegal making a mockery of our laws. What sanctions will the Washington Post be receiving for violating federal statutes?
To top it off, he visited the White House during the 2008 campaign, where he interviewed senior aides and covered a state dinner after being cleared by the Secret Service with the Social Security number he obtained with false documents.
Early this year, he got a driver’s license in the state of Washington, using the same falsified documents.
Way to go, Vargas. You’ve certainly made a contribution by proving just how lax and incompetent our immigration officials really are. And you also demonstrated that there are unethical people in the educational system and businesses who aid and abet criminals.
But we already knew that.
“I’m done running.”, he says, ” I’m exhausted.” “I don’t want that life anymore. So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection.”
One of the commenters at the NYT site left this message:
AjitSunnyvale, CAJune 22nd, 20111:50 pm
Well, Mr. Vargas, you certainly write well, which partly explains your Pulitzer-winning record. You have also apparently made the day for many native-born Americans with the story of your experience, going by the comments.However, I, for one, remain underwhelmed.You see Mr. Vargas, I am one of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of immigrants who came legally to the U.S. on our own in our early 20’s with no relatives here to provide support. For better part of two decades, each of us quietly studied, worked, and jumped through hoops and negotiated the maze that INS put in place to greet us, until we gained our U.S. citizenship. Many of us scraped by financially for years on very limited work opportunities on our immigration status before we had a real job.
I personally waited for 18 years on three different visa status before gaining citizenship while INS lost parts of my paperwork and took its own time in considering my paperwork. At some points during that period, I considered throwing in the towel and returning to my country of origin. But I persevered nonetheless, and did so legally. Many would-be immigrants returned home.
In other words, we paid our dues.
Citizenship or permanent residency in the U.S. is not a human right, but a privilege. We understand that it was not your decision to enter the country illegally. However, this country has been good to you, sir.
Let me be a contrarian here, and urge you to display real courage and integrity by moving to the end of the queue for applicants for legal immigration.
In the coming years, we look forward to seeing you The Daily Show or Colbert Report talking about the book you will no doubt write, but hopefully you will be visiting us on a tourist visa.
Vargas is a scofflaw who’s milked the taxpayers for his education and lifestyle. Now he wants a free pass based on the longevity of his illegal stay in this country. He feels he’s entitled to jump to the head of the line. Where’s the ICE? The NYT the WaPo, and all of the other people who hired him in spite of his illegal status should be charged with violating the immigration laws.
GO HOME, Vargas. Leave room for people who are abiding by the law and getting citizenship the right way.
In case there’s any misconceptions over what our laws actually say, read Title 8 of the U.S. Code, sections 1324 and 1325.
Here are the links:
Maybe the ICE can provide a copy for Vargas to read on his deportation flight back to the Philippines.