Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and immigration-reform activist Jose Antonio Vargas will discuss “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” on Monday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall in the Anderson Student Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.
His talk, sponsored by St. Thomas’ University Lectures Committee, is free and open to the public but tickets are required. St. Thomas students, staff and faculty can get tickets online starting on Sunday, April 10, at 9 p.m. Tickets will be available to the public starting on Sunday, April 17, at 9 p.m. To receive a ticket, visit stthomas.universitytickets.com.
Born in the Philippines, Vargas was 12 when his mother sent him to live with relatives in the United States. He discovered his undocumented immigrant status at age 16 when he applied for a driver’s permit. After hiding his status from schools, employers, license bureaus and others for 18 years, he outed himself in this 2011 article in The New York Times Magazine.
At the time, Vargas was respected journalist who shared a Pulitzer Prize for covering the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. He had covered the tech and video-game culture, HIV/AIDS and the 2008 presidential campaign for the Washington Post, and his 2006 series on AIDS in Washington, D.C., led to a 2010 feature-length documentary, “The Other City,” that he wrote and co-produced.
While he has written for the Philadelphia Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker and Huffington Post, it was the 2011 New York Times article about his life as an undocumented immigrant that attracted worldwide coverage and put him at the forefront of immigration-reform efforts.
He wrote the lead story and appeared with fellow undocumented immigrants on the cover of a 2012 Time magazine, testified at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and in 2013 premiered his documentary “Documented: a film by an undocumented American” on CNN. Last year he directed “White People,” a documentary aired on MTV about the concept of white privilege and its effects on all cultures.
Vargas, who lives in California, is the founder of Define American.com and #EmergingUS, two nonprofit efforts that focus on issues related to race, immigration, identity and citizenship in a multiracial America.
In his lecture he will share details of his journey to America as a child, his journey through America as an immigration-reform activist, the struggles of other undocumented immigrants and the experience of seeing his mother for the first time in 20 years.
Vargas has received the Public Service Award from the National Council of La Raza, the Salem Award from the Salem Award Foundation, the Freedom to Write Award from PEN Center USA and in 2012 was named San Francisco State University’s Alumnus of the Year.
Vargas’ film “Documented” will be shown on campus at a Diversity Dialogues event that will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in Room 100 (the Great Room) of McNeely Hall on the St. Paul campus.
Diversity Dialogues, sponsored by Student Diversity and Inclusion Services, is an annual event designed to “celebrate diversity and to raise awareness of social inequalities within our society,” and to “provide the community a space to go beyond their comfort zone by engaging with others that have various beliefs, experiences, and values.”
The event is free but you must register ahead of time at the Student Diversity and Inclusion Services office, Room 224, Anderson Student Center. The program includes dinner, and those who register will receive a free T-shirt.