Jose Antonio Vargas: Oh, com­e­dy. I was laugh­ing my ass off back there. Comedy is so impor­tant. If I didn’t laugh about my own cir­cum­stance I don’t know where I would be. It’s real­ly nice to be with all of you. Especially, kind of the word defi­ance.” I feel like the past six years for me has been all about defi­ance.

Defiance of the United States gov­ern­ment, who espe­cial­ly in the past six months have been deport­ing and detain­ing peo­ple in record num­bers. Three months ago ICE, the Immigration [and] Customs Enforcement report­ed that they had deport­ed and arrest­ed 42,000 ille­gals” in three months. That was the lan­guage that Immigration and Customs Enforcement use. That’s a 60% increase from the same time last year.

Defiance against my own lawyers. Especially after the elec­tion told me to stop fly­ing around the coun­try and just stay in the great state of California, dri­ving around from San Francisco to LA. They said, No more get­ting on planes.” But in the past six years of doing the work that I do, I’ve been walk­ing around like a walk­ing uncom­fort­able con­ver­sa­tion, trav­el­ing all across this coun­try. At Define American we’ve done more than 850 events in forty-eight states, includ­ing about 200 Republican Tea Party con­ser­v­a­tive meet­ings. And vis­it­ed more than 300 col­lege cam­pus­es. I was a polit­i­cal reporter at The Washington Post, and after doing all that trav­el­ing, the moment Trump announced his run for President I told all my polit­i­cal reporter friends, Trump is gonna win this thing.” And they told me I was crazy.

So against the advice of all these lawyers, I’m still trav­el­ing around. I’m still defy­ing.” And my exis­tence in this coun­try in many ways is an act of defi­ance. I have to say it gets the trolls real­ly real­ly pissed off. Actually just two days ago, this troll who always gets at me every day says, Clock is tick­ing and your stay is get­ting short­er by the day.”

And I tried to kind of calm myself down. And I just looked at the cal­en­dar and remind­ed myself that I’ve been liv­ing this coun­try for twenty-three years, eleven months, and four­teen days. I’ve been in this coun­try for that long. I don’t want to use the word stuck.” But I’ve been stuck in this coun­try for twenty-three years, eleven months, and four­teen days. I haven’t been able to leave because if I leave they won’t allow me to come back. And my mom, who has been in the Philippines since she sent me here, she and I haven’t seen each oth­er for almost twenty-four years next month.

So just to give you a lit­tle bit of back­ground, this is where I come from. That’s me in the Philippines, in the provinces where I grew up where there was no indoor plumb­ing. My grand­par­ents in this pic­ture immi­grat­ed to the United States legal­ly in the ear­ly 1980s because of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. I don’t know if you know what that is. That to me is the biggest lega­cy of the Kennedy fam­i­ly. If it wasn’t for that Act the coun­try wouldn’t look as Asian and as Latino as it does now. That’s why the coun­try looks the way that it does.

So this is my grand­par­ents in the provinces of the Philippines. They got here and they tried to fig­ure out how to basi­cal­ly get their grand­son, their only grand­son, to America. And because immi­gra­tion law is real­ly com­pli­cat­ed, it’s not close enough of a rela­tion­ship.

So they couldn’t get me here legal­ly. So what they did is some­thing that they should not have done. But they did. They found me this fake green card, to come to America when I was 12. Landed in Mountain View, California before Google got there. Before LinkedIn got there. 1993 is when I got there. I thought that this paper was fine. This is what I showed peo­ple. It says res­i­dent alien” in it.

I didn’t know that it was fake until I got to the DMV to try to get a driver’s license. And the woman at the DMV said, This is fake.” And the first instinct, the first thing I said to the woman was, I’m not Mexican.” Because grow­ing up in California, all you ever heard about was when­ev­er some­body said ille­gal this, ille­gal that: Mexicans. And maybe I thought she thought I was a Mexican because my name was Jose Antonio Vargas, I was going to explain to her Spanish colo­nial­ism, all of that. And she said, No no no. This green card is fake. Don’t come back here again.”

Confronted my grand­fa­ther and he said, Yes, it’s fake.” I guess his plan was to get me here ille­gal­ly then mar­ry a woman, like Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, and poof! I have cit­i­zen­ship. The com­pli­ca­tion was around the same time I found out this was fake was around the time I found that I was also gay. Because of AOL chat rooms. Do you know what those are? AOL chat rooms?

So that’s how I found out I was gay. And I wasn’t going to lie about two things at once. And so I defied my own fam­i­ly. And you know how I did it? This thing called jour­nal­ism. Mrs. Dewar, my English teacher, said I asked too many annoy­ing ques­tions and I should do a thing called jour­nal­ism. Didn’t know what that was. But what I did know was when you’re a jour­nal­ist you get this thing called a byline. So it says by Jose Antonio Vargas.”

So I fig­ured if I can’t be here because I don’t have the right papers…my name is on the paper. Doesn’t that mean I exist? And I fig­ured hey, as long as I keep doing this; get a job at The Washington Post or The New York Times; write for The New Yorker, because peo­ple think that’s a cool thing to do; win some sort of a prize, like a Pulitzer or Pyulitzer—I nev­er knew how to pro­nounce it, what­ev­er; and be a polit­i­cal reporter, because peo­ple think that’s a good thing to do. Right?

So I did all of that. The only rea­son I was able to do that—this is like everybody’s night­mare, your driver’s license blown up—was because of this. The Washington Post offered me an intern­ship. One of my top papers on my list. And they said, But you have to have a driver’s license to come.” I hadn’t drove after the DMV inci­dent. So I researched, like any good reporter, at the Mountain View Public Library and found out that there were two states at the time giv­ing licens­es with no require­ments for social secu­ri­ty num­bers. And one of them was the great state of Oregon. So I con­vinced a friend to dri­ve me to Oregon, teach me how to par­al­lel park, and poof I got the license. Well…you shouldn’t be clap­ping about that, but.

So this was issued June 4th 2003, ten days before my sum­mer intern­ship at The Washington Post start­ed. As you can see it expired on February 3rd, 2011, which hap­pened to be the exact date of my thir­ti­eth birth­day. I fig­ured I had eight years to do every­thing I can to be suc­cess­ful.” Maybe by then they’ll pass a DREAM Act or immi­gra­tion reform or some­thing would hap­pen but you know, just keep writ­ing, keep doing, keep doing all of this.

But every­thing on my list, The Washington Post, the Pulitzer, even writ­ing for The New Yorker—the last sto­ry I did before I out­ed myself as undoc­u­ment­ed was a pro­file of Mark Zuckerberg in The New Yorker. So I had done all of those things and noth­ing had hap­pened. And they were real­ly only two choic­es. Like any good reporter, I spoke to twenty-seven immi­gra­tion lawyers, all of whom said— I told them, Hey, my deadline’s com­ing up. What do I do?”

Well, I would sug­gest you leave. Because you’re a writer. You can just write a book, sell a lot of books, go back to the Philippines, see your mom.”

And the more I thought about that the more I’m think­ing wait a sec­ond. Like, I firm­ly believe that when you find pur­pose you find grat­i­tude. And I’m very very grate­ful for this coun­try. And every­thing that it’s allowed me to do, regard­less of the cir­cum­stances. Then I did some­thing that twenty-seven lawyers told me not to do.

Isn’t that the most hor­ri­ble pho­to you’ve ever seen? So in The New York Times, a 4,000 word essay admit­ting to every­thing I did just to work, sur­vive, pay tax­es, and social secu­ri­ty. My lawyer said, The moment you pub­lish in The New York Times that you broke the law and you’ve com­mit­ted fraud, we can’t save you.” No extra­or­di­nary abil­i­ty visa like Milo can get you. No investor’s visa can help you. Not even mar­ry­ing a guy—because now same-sex mar­riage is legal, that can’t save you. The moment you do this, it’s over.

But I firm­ly believe that when you find grat­i­tude, you find pur­pose, and that’s why I did this. But the goal of this is mine is just one sto­ry, right. There are eleven mil­lion of us in this coun­try who are here ille­gal­ly. And how we define American in an era that is under siege, in an era in which there are forty-three mil­lion immi­grants in this coun­try— I don’t know if you know that. There are forty-three mil­lion immi­grants in this country—the high­est per­cent­age we’ve had since the Ellis Island era. Out of the forty-three mil­lion, eleven mil­lion are here ille­gal­ly with­out papers, like me.

So I’m Filipino. We’re like the Italians of Asia. We have big-ass fam­i­lies. So out of thirty-six fam­i­ly mem­bers I’m the only one who’s here ille­gal­ly. I’m the only one out of thirty-six. It’s called a mixed-status fam­i­ly. There’s mil­lions of fam­i­lies like us all across this coun­try.

So how do we human­ize this issue? A big part of it is we have a cam­paign called Words Matter. I am very sad to report that we’re still liv­ing in a time when The New York Times and The Washington Post and NPR and estab­lished news orga­ni­za­tions that I used to write for myself still refer to peo­ple as ille­gal. Even though that’s actu­al­ly fac­tu­al­ly incor­rect.

I don’t know how this hap­pened that we have allowed the lan­guage of Donald Trump. It’s not an acci­dent that Donald Trump picked immi­gra­tion as the cen­tral cam­paign issue. But for The New York Times and The Washington Post and NPR to still use that lan­guage to me is jour­nal­is­ti­cal­ly irre­spon­si­ble. I’m proud that the Words Matter cam­paign actu­al­ly encour­aged the Associated Press to drop the use of the word ille­gal in refer­ring to immi­grants in this coun­try.

We have a real­ly impor­tant cam­paign, which to me is very impor­tant as a jour­nal­ist, the Facts Matter cam­paign. If you go to our web site defineam​er​i​can​.com, I real­ly encour­age you to down­load and print this. It’s a great uncom­fort­able con­ver­sa­tion doc­u­ment. This lists six facts that you should know before you open your mouth and say any­thing about immi­gra­tion. I’m proud to say that I gave it per­son­al­ly to Tucker Carlson live on tele­vi­sion. I don’t think he read it.

But this is what the facts of this issue are. From the fact that to be in this coun­try ille­gal­ly is actu­al­ly a civ­il offense and not a crim­i­nal one. Let me repeat: to be in this coun­try legal­ly is a civ­il offense and not a crim­i­nal one. So call­ing peo­ple ille­gal is fac­tu­al­ly incor­rect.

I don’t know about you, I don’t know if you know, that undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers like us have paid bil­lions of dol­lars in tax­es and social secu­ri­ty. I recent­ly was meet­ing with the top edi­tor at The New York Times and hand­ed him this doc­u­ment. And I said, Hey, did you know that we’ve actu­al­ly con­tributed $100 bil­lion into the Social Security fund in the past decade?” I myself, per­son­al­ly have paid about $130,000, because I get that let­ter from the Social Security peo­ple. And I called them and I won­dered, Wait a sec­ond, so as a ille­gal alien work­er,’ which is what y’all call me, do I get any of this back?” No. We don’t. How many times have you heard that fig­ure, by the way? That undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers have paid $100 bil­lion into the fund.

Now, there is absolute­ly no study that says that undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants are more prone to com­mit crimes. We spend a lot of our time avoid­ing cops. So why we’d be more prone to actu­al­ly com­mit more crime is a mys­tery to me. Yet, we have spread the lie so much on undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants that there’s actu­al­ly an office with­in the Administration called VOICE, the Victims of Immigration [Crime Engagement], mean­ing that if an undoc­u­ment­ed per­son com­mits a crime, you as a neigh­bor can get to call VOICE and report them.

How have we spread these lies? And for me, the num­ber one ques­tion I get asked— Bill Maher just asked me a cou­ple of months ago before I went on his show, Jose, why can’t you just get legal?” I’m a masochist. This is so much more fun. People actu­al­ly—jour­nal­ists them­selves, think­ing peo­ple. I don’t care, Republican, con­ser­v­a­tive. I don’t care what your politic— They have no idea that there is no process for peo­ple like us to legal­ize our­selves.” Such process does not exist. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all process.

So these are the facts that we should know about immi­gra­tion before we talk about it. Unfortunately, what I’ve learned in the past six years of trav­el­ing this coun­try like a crazy per­son is that Clay Shirky—the great Clay Shirky—tweeted at me a few months ago and said, Jose, you don’t bring facts to a cul­ture war, man.” Let me repeat: you don’t bring facts to a cul­ture war. I can’t tell you how many con­ver­sa­tions I’ve had in Wisconsin, Ohio, Nebraska, Alabama, of people—mostly white working—class people—who feel that what was theirs is not their any­more. And why are they speak­ing Spanish at Walmart? Why are they tak­ing the jobs? Why are they even here? Why are they even here?

The real­i­ty is we have been so busy call­ing peo­ple names, obsess­ing over bor­ders and walls, and spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion that we haven’t even asked hard ques­tions like why do peo­ple move? What does US for­eign pol­i­cy and US trade agree­ments have to do with migra­tion pat­terns? Remember when those chil­dren start­ed walk­ing from Central America to here, and CBS News and a lot of orga­ni­za­tions called them ille­gal immi­grant” chil­dren instead of call­ing them the refugees that they are? What did we do to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala so that their coun­tries got so vio­lent that they have to come here? Who start­ed the drug war? What did NAFTA do not only to the United States but to Mexicans, right?

And look, I under­stand that this is a very sen­si­tive top­ic. Two years ago I did an event at Wilmington, North Carolina—it was actu­al­ly a Tea Party event. And this man, after I said that there are four mil­lion Filipinos in the United States— There are four mil­lion Filipinos in the US. The third largest immi­grant group. Two mil­lion Filipinos in the state of California alone. He goes, Well, why are you guys here?

And all I could say polite­ly is, Sir, we are here because you were there. That’s why we’re here.” Remember the Spanish-American war? Remember when you took the Philippines and it became a pro­tec­torate like Puerto Rico? Now, don’t get me wrong. We’re here because of the American Dream, right? We’re here because it’s a bet­ter life. We want some­thing bet­ter for our chil­dren. The same rea­son the Irish and the Italians and the Germans did.

But why is it that when white peo­ple move you call it man­i­fest des­tiny? You call it white man’s bur­den. It’s coura­geous. It’s nec­es­sary. When peo­ple of col­or move, what’s the ques­tion? Is it legal? Is it a crime? I found it real­ly real­ly inter­est­ing that my iPhone has more migrant rights than I do as a human being. This could be man­u­fac­tured in China, deliv­ered to Cupertino, and then to New York where I bought it. This thing can trav­el to more places than me and my moth­er can. And as tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tors keep build­ing things to open up, right, and con­nect the world, can we actu­al­ly start think­ing about about human beings and the fact that there’s noth­ing more nat­ur­al than the human right to move? That to me is the big-ass ques­tion.

And we’re so busy obsess­ing over walls and bor­ders with­out even facts to do with it. What if I told you that the fastest-growing undoc­u­ment­ed pop­u­la­tion in this coun­try are actu­al­ly Asian immi­grants? One out of sev­en Asian per­sons in this coun­try is here ille­gal­ly. One out of sev­en. But we’re so busy talk­ing about Mexico and the wall. We don’t even know that. There’s about six­teen thou­sand undoc­u­ment­ed Irish peo­ple, one of whom actu­al­ly just got deport­ed from this town, Boston, John Cunningham. I got­ta tell you, just all the undoc­u­ment­ed white peo­ple that I’ve met at air­ports and cafés, if I just count­ed them, it’s way more than eleven mil­lion peo­ple. But they just fly under the radar. We don’t even talk about undoc­u­ment­ed black peo­ple. Although they actu­al­ly get more detained and deport­ed, in num­bers and per­cent­age, than undoc­u­ment­ed Latinos or Asian peo­ple do.

So these are the facts, right. And for me, since we are talk­ing about legal­i­ty, I think it’s real­ly impor­tant to remem­ber that legality’s a con­struct of pow­er. Lynching, seg­re­ga­tion, vio­lent­ly tak­ing indige­nous land, many more atroc­i­ties, all of these were legal, right.

Did you know that in 1790, that was the first time we as a coun­try had a nat­u­ral­iza­tion act? And the only peo­ple who could become cit­i­zens of America were free white peo­ple of good moral char­ac­ter. Did you know that it wasn’t until 1924 that we that we actu­al­ly gave Native Americans cit­i­zen­ship rights? Let me repeat: we did not give Native Americans cit­i­zen­ship rights until 1924.

The real­i­ty is migra­tion was nev­er about legal­i­ty. It was always about pow­er. And here’s what’s real­ly inter­est­ing. There are 244 mil­lion migrants in the world. Two hun­dred and forty-four mil­lion migrants in the world—that’s the most ever in the his­to­ry of this world, accord­ing to the United Nations. And here’s what’s inter­est­ing about it. The major­i­ty of us are mov­ing into coun­tries that pre­vi­ous­ly col­o­nized or impe­ri­al­ized us. You might call that a glob­al migra­tion cri­sis? I call it a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion of his­to­ry.

Now, why am I here? Why haven’t I self-deported? I’m here because of Mrs. Denny. She was my high school choir teacher at Mountain View high school. She was the first adult I ever told that I was here ille­gal­ly because she want­ed the choir to go to Japan for a Spring tour. And said, Mrs. Denny, I can’t go. I don’t have the right pass­port.”

Oh no no no, Jose. We’ll get you the right pass­port.”

No, Mrs. Denny. I don’t have the right pass­port.”

Then she got it. She didn’t tell anybody—not the Principal, not even her hus­band. And the next day she told the whole class we were going to go to Hawaii instead. This woman…

Still from Documented, CNN Films

Peter Perl, he was my edi­tor at The Washington Post. He was actu­al­ly the first cowork­er that I told. Because you know, it was one thing to be undoc­u­ment­ed at the San Francisco Chronicle, it was a whole oth­er thing to be undoc­u­ment­ed in The Washington Post two blocks from the White House. I thought I had the word ille­gal tat­tooed on my fore­head so hey. I thought Peter Perl, he always bought me Starbucks, I fig­ured I could trust him.

Took him for a walk and I said every­thing. The fake driver’s license, the fake Social Security num­ber, every­thing. And then he said two things. One, You make so much more sense now.” Because appar­ent­ly I was always walk­ing around like I was on dead­line or some­thing. The sec­ond thing he said, which sur­prised me to this day, he said, Jose, don’t tell any­body else. Just keep going.”

So when I was on Hillary Clinton’s cam­paign plane in 2008, fol­low­ing her around in Ohio… When I had to cov­er Sarah Palin in Indiana… When I end­ed up win­ning a part of this Pulitzer and I’m won­der­ing wait a sec­ond. Aren’t they going to know that the Social Security num­ber is fake? When I was asked to cov­er a White House state din­ner for the Japanese Prime Minister, how am I going to get through the White House? Isn’t there like secu­ri­ty pro­to­col? But maybe because I look like this and I talk like this and it had The Washington Post” next to it, nobody said any­thing.

I can only imag­ine how many Peter Perls are there all across this coun­try, all across Boston, telling peo­ple like me, engi­neers, elec­tri­cians what­ev­er, to keep going.

And this woman is the biggest woman to me. Marcia Davis, she was my edi­tor at The Washington Post for the longest time. She was the one who told me that before oth­er peo­ple defined what suc­cess was for me, I had to define it for myself.

Now, some peo­ple may say that a green card or a pass­port is suc­cess. Don’t get me wrong, I want them. I actu­al­ly want to go see Mexico—everybody thinks I’m Mexican. But as far as I’m con­cerned, what I’m doing is suc­cess­ful. This is part of my suc­cess. But the real­i­ty is Mrs. Denny, Peter Perl, and Marcia Davis are all across this coun­try. And I don’t real­ly have words to explain to you the fear, the pal­pa­ble fear, that undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants all across this coun­try are fac­ing in this new era. The real­i­ty now, though, is when you have privilege…like I did, right? Like I do. What are you doing to risk it? What are you doing to risk you priv­i­lege?

And we cre­at­ed this video at Define American all about ally­ship. What does it mean to stand up for your undoc­u­ment­ed neigh­bors, class­mates, and cowork­ers?

https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​A​i​w​F​T​D​0​c​ytA

So last­ly, after Trump was elect­ed President, my build­ing man­ag­er in Los Angeles where I was liv­ing, in the apart­ment I was liv­ing, said, Hey, it might be a good idea for you to move. Because if ICE showed up we can’t real­ly pro­tect you.” My lawyers then said it might not be a good idea to have a per­ma­nent address in case they issue a war­rant of arrests. Because I got arrest­ed in Texas three years ago. I got detained for eight hours and I got released. But the war­rant could be issued at any­time.

So I actu­al­ly moved out of my apart­ment and put every­thing in stor­age. So I’m liv­ing with friends who have a spare bed­room. Which is awe­some. But, get­ting detained and deport­ed? I can han­dle that. I have lawyers. I have a sys­tem in place. There’s four mil­lion Filipinos in this coun­try, includ­ing Manny Pacquiao, who’s in the Philippines but who comes here a lot. So I think I’ll be okay.

But what I can­not do is stay silent. What I can­not do is stay in one place. What I can­not do is allow a pres­i­den­cy to scare me for my own coun­try. So I am proud to say that I’ve been liv­ing in this coun­try as of today twenty-three years, eleven months, and six­teen days. I’m an American, I’m just wait­ing for my own coun­try to rec­og­nize it. Thank you.


Discussion

Jose Antonio Vargas: Okay, questions! We have five minutes.

Nobody has a question? Is there anyone here who wants me deported? Let's have a conversation about it.

Audience 1: Okay, what about DACA?

Vargas: Okay, how many people here know what DACA is, can you raise your hand? Oh…awesome that you know. DACA is called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It was an executive order that President Obama signed in 2012. Right now there's 880,000 young people in this country who are here illegally but grew up here, who have to pay about $500 to the government so that the government doesn't deport them for two years. And the government gives them a work permit, a driver's license, and to not worry about anybody knocking on the door.

Can you imagine if you had to pay the government $500 to not deport you? So 880,000 young people applied for this, and Trump has said that he would get rid of it. He still has not. We don't know what's going to happen to it. But it's going to expire. Judges, especially the great state of Texas— By the way, Texas has 1.8 million undocumented people in it. Is there a subway system in Texas that we don't know about? How do you think 1.8 million undocumented Texans get around? They drive without a license. And then what happens? They get pulled over. Then what happens? They get detained. Then what happens? They get deported.

I have to tell you, though, Nico. When we asked that question of DACA here, the fact that you hear about immigration every day in the news, and yet we know so little about facts and process of this issue, to me is a journalistic irresponsibility of monstrous proportions. I don't really have even the language for that because as a journalist myself I'm offended. But this is why we need more information out there. We need to figure out how to actually strategically get that information.

Right now Define American is training a few undocumented people to get on conservative talk radio. Train them to go on Fox News, conservative talk radio, so we don't cede that ground. So please, pay attention to DACA. Call the senators that you want to call. We don't advocate for anything political, but that's your decision.

Audience 2: What was your motivation for going to so many Tea Party rallies?

Vargas: You know, I think it's the journalist in me. I think Sarah Palin inspired me when I covered her in 2008. You know, you can't hate something you don't know. We did a show for MTV three years ago called White People. You might have heard of it. It was actually our way to kind of talk about race and immigration. And what was stunning to me after we did the film, MTV commissioned a study that said— I don't know if you know this. Three fourths—the typical white American lives in a town that is predominantly white. And the average white American's group of friends is more than 90% white. So if you're one of those typical white Americans, where do you get to know immigrants? The news media you consume, and the television shows and movies you watch.

So for me it was really important to engage people. I gotta tell you, for me those are the best conversations. And they're as surprised when I bring my tax forms with me from H&R Block. I mean, I have paid so much taxes I should be a Republican. And they're like, "Aren't you pissed that you keep paying these taxes but we don't give you anything?" Oh hey, you know, I'm happy to be in this country. I'm happy. I want to pay taxes so we can have schools and libraries. I wouldn't know where I would be without the Mountain View Public Library. But while we do that, can you at least not talk about us like we're insects off your backs?

One last question and then I think I gotta go.

Audience 3: So, what is your definition of success for Define American and for the rest of your time, which we hope will be very very long here in America. But what would be your successful…

Vargas: You know, what has given me a lot of peace, by the way, is realizing that this is not just a national issue but it's a global issue. Even though I haven't been able to see the world. And I'm 36 years old, so I kinda do want to go see the world. Thinking about the fact that what we're a part of is a global movement to me is very…I get a lot of peace out of that. I get a lot a peace that certainly after the election I have more news organizations contacting us saying, "Help us do this." For example, we're about have a pretty big partnership to do something on undocumented black women, which is something you never hear about.

So what gives me feelings of success are those kinds of things. But I have to say though, for me, the fact that I get to do this, the fact that people are getting detained and deported everyday and look, here I am doing this work. I employ fifteen people— What's your name?

Audience 3: Tobi. [sp?]

Vargas: So Tobi, you can't knowingly hire an undocumented person—although we know that people do. But, I can hire you. So undocumented people can own businesses and employ people. I'm a job creator, yo. So I employ like fifteen people. And apparently I provide really good health insurance and benefits. The same benefits that I can't get myself because I'm here without papers. So I have to buy my own private health insurance.

But it gives me a lot of peace knowing that what we're doing is succeeding. We just have to really scale it. Thank you so much for this time.

Further Reference

Blog post about White People, with link to clip

Defiance video archive


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