Jose Antonio Vargas has been making the rounds on the talk show circuit promoting his new book and is garnering a wealth of attention… while breaking federal laws in the process.
Vargas, according to his own mini-autobiography published in the New York Times in June 2011, arrived in America at the age of 12 when his mother shipped him off to live with his grandparents who had immigrated legally from the Philippines. Vargas’ grandfather, “Lolo,” obtained fraudulent documents for him so he could travel and then attend school in the San Francisco Bay area. He remained unknowing of the fraud for 4 years.
“One day when I was 16, I rode my bike to the nearby DMV office to get my driver’s permit…” writes Vargas. “But when I handed the clerk my green card as proof of US residency, she flipped it around, examining it. ‘This is fake,’ she whispered. ‘Don’t come back here again.’”
Like any other teenager unaware of the situation his mother and grandparents had bestowed him, he was confused and proceeded to ask for an explanation from Lolo, only to learn that the document was in fact falsified and he was living in the United States illegally.
Vargas says he faced many challenges trying to assimilate and become as American as possible. He wanted to perfect English and lose his accent. He wanted to fit in and get a job in America. He again leaned on Lolo.
“Using the fake passport, we went to the local Social Security Administration office and applied for a Social Security number and card. It was, I remember, a quick visit. When the card came in the mail, it had my full, real name, but it also clearly stated: “Valid for work only with I.N.S. authorization.”
When I began looking for work, a short time after the D.M.V. incident, my grandfather and I took the Social Security card to Kinko’s, where he covered the “I.N.S. authorization” text with a sliver of white tape. We then made photocopies of the card. At a glance, at least, the copies would look like copies of a regular, unrestricted Social Security card.”
The New York Times editors failed to ask for more details about this, but should have. Social Security cards are blue. They have a specific design on them. Covering a portion with white tape would most certainly distort the image to look completely fake. Perhaps his first few employers like Subway and the YMCA should also have done a bit more digging.
Nevertheless, the fraudulent card was getting so easy to use that Vargas admits after a while, he began checking the citizenship box on I-9 forms (one of the documents federally required of new employees to ensure legal citizenship/immigration status). He claims he was nervous about getting caught – so he understood it was wrong – but that he kept doing it anyway.
Vargas attended San Francisco State University on a scholarship that Vargas admits “was not concerned with immigration status.” He sought out avenues to avoid bringing attention to the fact that he was breaking the law on a daily basis.
In early 2002, Vargas sought the help of an immigration lawyer who told him that to become a legal US citizen, Vargas would have to return to the Philippines for 10 years and then return legally with documentation.
Apparently, as an adult, fully aware of the consequences of his actions, Vargas chose NOT to obey the law. In fact, he downright ignored it. What he did next can only be described as intentional defiance of state and federal laws with complete disregard for morality.
“…I spent an afternoon at The Mountain View Public Library, studying various states’ requirements. Oregon was among the most welcoming — and it was just a few hours’ drive north,” remembers Vargas.
Using a false permanent address, some fraudulent documents, a photocopied Social Security card and his college ID, Portland, Oregon gave Vargas a driver’s license.
“I knew what I was doing now, and I knew it wasn’t right. But what was I supposed to do?”
As justification for his crimes, Vargas basically whines, “I was paying state and federal taxes…”
Perhaps Vargas should remember that simply paying taxes doesn’t make you American, nor does it make your actions justified. Perhaps Vargas should also consider that he was and continues to benefit from the taxes paid just like legal US citizens. Roads, fire protection, a federal military, etc. have all been available to him regardless of his being unlawful.
Vargas claims the license meant a great deal to him because it allowed him to drive, travel by plane and work. What is he doing now? How is he able to make it to all those television interviews to promote his new book? If he is using that license (or a new one since that license was set to expire last year), should he not be stopped by the TSA when trying to board a plane? Or perhaps the television shows or stations are flying him by private jet? Still, it begs the question, “how has he not been arrested for repeatedly breaking the law and being so open about it?”
Vargas has worked as an employee for the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Huffington Post, all with the help of falsified documents. He has also likely been paid as a freelance writer/contributor and has made documentary films, which aren’t free. I wonder if he’s ever filled out a 1099 form and turned it in to the IRS by April 15th? If so, I wouldn’t believe its truthfulness.
To see the beat down Lou Dobbs gives this guy, click here.