Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas will host a town hall meeting on immigration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. The free event is open to the public and will take place at UAB’s Hill Center Alumni Auditorium, 1400 University Boulevard.
Vargas — a multimedia journalist who has penned award-winning articles for the Washington Post, Time, the San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone and others — revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant in a 2011 New York Times Sunday Magazine article. He is Filipino and came to the United States as a young boy in 1993. Vargas did not know that he was undocumented until 1997, when he tried to get a California driver’s license.
“This is fake,” Vargas wrote that the woman at the Department of Motor Vehicles whispered after examining his green card. “Don’t come back here again.”
“I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American,” Vargas wrote in the Times article. “I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.”
Today, Vargas travels the country leading discussions about immigration policy and what he calls the “21st century underground railroad.” He also founded Define American, a website that gives a platform for people to share their stories of being citizens of this country, undocumented or not.
|Town Hall on Immigration
Tuesday, Oct. 30
Hill University Center Alumni Auditorium
“What I’m really interested in is getting people in the auditorium, getting people in the room who support [Alabama’s immigration law, known as] HB 56,” Vargas told the Birmingham News. “People who support the immigration law, who think people like me should deport and go back.”
Event sponsors include UAB, the Birmingham News and Al.com, the UAB Spanish and Latino Student Association (SALSA), Define American and the Alabama statewide chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.