José Antonio Vargas
Founder & CEO of Define American, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and author
José Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and an immigration rights activist that most recently authored a book about his experience as an undocumented immigrant in the United States titled 'Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen'. He is the founder and CEO of Define American, a non-profit media organization focused on the power of storytelling to transcend politics and to fight anti-immigrant hate.
When he was 12 years old, Vargas flew to San Francisco, CA from the Philippines unbeknownst to him that his documents were fake. In June 2011, he disclosed his unlawful status in an essay in The New York Times Magazine. A year later, he was on the cover of TIME magazine with fellow undocumented immigrants to share the story of DREAMers. The day the story was published, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was enacted which permits certain undocumented youth deferred action from deportation and work authorization for two years. However, Vargas was not eligible for the program due to an age restriction.
Vargas produced and directed Documented, a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience which received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. Additional works he produced and directed include White People, an Emmy-nominated television special with MTV on what it means to be young and white. His work has encompassed intersectionality and immigrant justice in an effort to promote dialogue in the United States.
This event was proposed by Cheska Mae Perez ’21 & Stephanie McNulty.