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Jose Antonio Vargas: My Undocumented Life

Over his 15 years as a journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas interviewed some of the most accomplished people in America, and shared in a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech. For 14 of those years, he hid the fact that he is an undocumented immigrant, “living in a different kind of reality, relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.”

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Over his 15 years as a journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas interviewed some of the most accomplished people in America, and shared in a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech. For 14 of those years, he hid the fact that he is an undocumented immigrant, “living in a different kind of reality, relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.”

Vargas presented My Undocumented Life, part of the Rudolf G. Schade Lecture Series, at Elmhurst College.

A rising-star journalist, Vargas was writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country, including “The Washington Post,” “Rolling Stone” and “The New Yorker.” In 2007, the daily journal “Politico” named him one of the 50 Politicos To Watch. All the while, Vargas was leading a double life, hiding the fact that he was an undocumented immigrant.

“This deceit never got easier,” he said. “The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught.”

In the summer of 2011, 18 years after arriving in America, Vargas exposed his story in his groundbreaking essay, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant, for the “New York Times Magazine.”

Today, Vargas runs Define American, a non-profit organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration.

Elmhurst College is a leading liberal arts college located eight miles west of Chicago. The College’s mission is to prepare its students for meaningful and ethical work in a multicultural, global society. Approximately 3,400
full- and part-time students are enrolled in its 23 undergraduate academic departments and 10 graduate degree programs.

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Recorded live Thursday, March 7, 2013 at Elmhurst College.

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