Coming Out as Undocumented becomes Political Strategy

2011 — 2012

United States

Identity & Belonging Labor & Economy Media & Culture

In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a personal story written by Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer prize-winning, Filipino American journalist, about his life as an undocumented individual. Vargas’ “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” was part of a larger, primarily immigrant youth-led call for undocumented people to “come out of the shadows” and organize for immigration reform. The article catapulted Vargas into the national spotlight. One year later, Time magazine published Vargas’ “Define American” as its cover story, in which Vargas chronicled his experience navigating the prior year as both a public figure and an undocumented immigrant. Vargas then launched a web-based project, also called Define American that invites individuals to share their stories and perspectives about American citizenship.