Strong opinions, weakly held

The predicament of Jose Vargas

Today the New York Times ran the first hand story of Jose Antonio Vargas, a well-known journalist who, in the piece, confesses that he unknowingly came to this country illegally as an adolescent and, after learning of his status when he tried to get a driving permit, still managed to graduate from college and work for some of the country’s top publications, most notably the Washington Post.

I really recommend that you read the story. While I’m sure he feels better having relieved himself of the burden he’s carried all these years, there’s a good chance he’ll wind up being deported unless someone else intervenes on his behalf.

Hopefully his story will shed some light on the state of many people who came to America as undocumented immigrants as children, are for all intents and purposes Americans, and yet face deportation if they’re ever found out. While I understand that giving such people a direct path to a Green Card or citizenship provides an incentive for illegal immigration, I don’t care. There is nothing to be gained by sending people away who are already fully assimilated and who would suffer greatly by being deported.

Editor Chris Suellentrop writes about how the New York Times Magazine came to publish the story.

Update: Suzy Khimm reports that it’s unlikely that Vargas will be deported.


  1. In my opinion, it’s not about the individual’s suffering but our country’s suffering. Immigrants (for the most part) provide much more than they take.

    Why in hades do we continue to deport college educated people is beyond me. Immigration should be easier (and perhaps state benefits provided to immigrants reduced). In my old house, we had a neighbor who had a wife and two young kids (both born in America). He was going to graduate school at NC State on a student visa. After he graduated with a PhD in Food Science he was unable to find an employer to sponsor him for a work visa. He is now working in Denmark for Unilever despite the fact he wanted to stay and become an American citizen. This isn’t even an issue with illegal immigrants, it’s also an issue with legal immigrants. Our immigration policy is so damned stupid and neither side really cares. One seems to pander to Hispanics and illegals, the other to xenophobes. How about they work together and craft a policy that allows individuals and families coming to America to work hard and make a better life in and keeps out (or tosses out) those that come here to live off the government or cause trouble? America wouldn’t be half the country it is today if it weren’t for massive waves of immigration.

  2. Boy, this quote from Matthew Yglesias really nails it for me:

    The fact that we’ve managed to become a society that feels only fear in the face of people wanting to do the same thing our ancestors did — go someplace better to build a better life — is extremely sad.

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