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Read time: 2 minutes

Define American: Jose Antonio Vargas' Story Represents Many

I dare anyone to watch this video and read the amazing story of Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer-prize winning writer while at the Washington Post, and an undocumented immigrant who was sent here from the Philippines to the United States by his

I dare anyone to watch this video and read the amazing story of Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer-prize winning writer while at the Washington Post, and an undocumented immigrant who was sent here from the Philippines to the United States by his mother to make a better life.

You cannot understand the shame or the fear these people endure because of decisions made when they were children and over which they had no control. Before he knew he was undocumented, he watched television shows to learn how to speak English without an accent, worked hard in school, earned his way to college and through college, and has established himself as a quality journalist in a time where we lack quality journalists.

He pays taxes just like the rest of us. And he will be deported if Republicans have their way.

It's a stupid, idiotic political stance, this xenophobic Republican whitebread ideal. It ignores the fact that undocumented workers are the ones breaking their backs in the fields to pick the food that ends up in our supermarkets and fattens the corporate farmers' profit margin. It ignores the fact that children of those undocumented workers actually go to school and actually learn something, because their parents have raised them to believe that if they work hard in school they can have a better life.

How would it feel to have to write this as a truth you live with every day?

There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.

Ironically, Vargas' hope of unraveling his immigration status came when Orrin Hatch and Dick Durbin introduced the original DREAM Act in 2002.

I was hopeful. This was in early 2002, shortly after Senators Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, and Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, introduced the Dream Act — Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. It seemed like the legislative version of what I’d told myself: If I work hard and contribute, things will work out.

And here we are today in 2011, with wildly xenophobic Republican TeaBirchers waggling their finger and showing up on Fox News, wailing about "illegals" and ginning up fear and loathing.

I challenge any of them to actually read Vargas' story with an open mind, and stand in front of him and the countless others in his situation and tell them they aren't welcome here. I'll wait.

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