Jose Vargas, an undocumented but decorated journalist, was detained Tuesday morning in a McAllen, Texas airport. Mr. Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning writer born in the Philippines, who most notably covered the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 with the Washington Post, has most recently written about the current immigration climate and the experiences of undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children by their families. Jose was brought by his grandparents when he was twelve years old with what he thought was his very own green card, leaving his mother, his half-siblings, and his childhood in the Philippines behind. It was not until he turned 16 and attempted to get his driver’s license that an employee at the department let him know that his green card was not real. Jose had no idea that he came without documentation. He carried a green card with him for years believing it was valid because his grandparents gave it to him. In the CNN documentary “Undocumented,” Mr. Vargas discloses the devastation and shame he experienced over the years following this revelation. It highlights the feelings that many undocumented individuals experience who were not aware of their undocumented status. To “fix” his situation, Mr. Vargas was determined to outwork the reality of his situation. He gave false information to every employer he has ever had and has accomplished great successes in the journalism field in the process. However, his work ethic has never been able to cure his undocumented status, something over which he had no control.
There are no confirmed facts as to the grounds for Jose’s current detention although it is hard to imagine that it does not involve his undocumented status. After the publicity of his status through his documentary, it was only a matter of time that a traveling journalist such as himself was detained at an airport where all persons much show valid identification to board a flight, especially in a border town like McAllen, Texas. Under stated federal procedure, if a person is not able to show valid identification, he or she may fly if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is able to verify the person’s identity. It may be at this stage that Mr. Vargas’s name flagged Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or if he used his false credentials in getting through security. However, his troublesome situation may bring much desired publicity to the situation of millions of young adults in America. Perhaps this will be the event that changes the fate of immigration reform for undocumented childhood arrivals who have been dubbed DREAMers.