DREAM Act will benefit U.S., journalist tells Miami audience
By Alfonso Chardy
Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented journalist who helped the Washington Post win a Pulitzer Prize, said Thursday night in Miami that the DREAM Act would help not only tens of thousands of young immigrants like himself but also the country as a whole because it would benefit financially.
“The DREAM Act is not a form of amnesty,” Vargas said in his speech to the annual dinner of the Miami-based immigrant rights organization Americans for Immigrant Justice. “It’s simply a commonsense solution to a complex problem . . . they [the young immigrants] want to pay taxes. They want to contribute. In a complex economy, don’t we want more taxpaying Americans?”
Vargas was the keynote speaker at the event held at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Miami.
The reporter, born in the Philippines, caused a sensation last year when he revealed that he was undocumented in an article he wrote for The New York Times Magazine.
Vargas, 31, said he was inspired by four immigrant youths, three of them undocumented, who had walked from Miami to Washington, D.C., in 2010 to demand passage of the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide green cards to tens of thousands of undocumented students brought to this country when they were children by their parents.
Vargas has since become champion of the cause to legalize the young immigrants and give the immigration-reform movement a dimension akin to the civil rights movement.
Vargas’ mother sent him to the United States in 1993, when he was 12 years old. He lived with his grandparents in the San Francisco Bay area.
While working at the Washington Post, he was part of the team of reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre.
Vargas now leads the group Define American, which publishes on its website stories of undocumented immigrants, mostly young people without immigration papers.