Alum Jose Antonio Vargas Explores Definitions of ‘American’

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
THE HARVARD CRIMSON -- The event, entitled “Define American: Humanizing the Immigration Debate” was co-hosted with the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and took place in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. Vargas came into the public spotlight in 2011 after he published an essay in The New York Times Magazine discussing his life as an undocumented immigrant. Having moved from the Philippines to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, Calif. when he was 12, Vargas did not know he was living in the United States illegally until he was 16 years old. “An estimated seven million undocumented workers have paid about $100 billion in Social Security taxes using fake Social Security numbers,” he said. “Yet since 9/11 we have invested $100 billion in border security.” Vargas graduated from San Francisco State University in 2004 and was a member of the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team in 2008 for its coverage on the Virginia Tech shootings.