HomeBad Ass AsiansHiding in Plain Sight: An Interview with Jose Antonio Vargas
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Hiding in Plain Sight: An Interview with Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio VargasBy Ernabel Demillo
Host of @AsianAmericanLife


Jose Antonio Vargas is in perpetual motion. By his account, he has made over 750 public speaking engagements in 48 states, just this year alone.
Since the election Tuesday, his life has been busier than ever. Vargas, who is one of the country’s most famous undocumented immigrant, has been busy speaking and fielding calls from the media and reaching out to his supporters and followers. He also has to deal with those who are trolling him on social media. This is just one example of the hate messages he has received and his response on Facebook.

He sat down with us recently for an interview, while he was in New York. He was getting ready to speak at the CUNY Graduate Center for LGBTQ Pride month. He’s funny. He’s wry. He’s smart. And he’s very open about his life and his work. He told me he never reads stories about himself. So, he probably isn’t reading this one.
His life changed in 2011. After years of living quietly as a journalist, he revealed in a first -person narrative in New York Times magazine that he was an undocumented immigrant. Soon after, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer, left this job and criss crossed the country advocating for immigration rights. He started an advocacy group called Define American. He has sparred with conservative talk show hosts including Bill O’Reilly. He produced two documentaries, “Undocumented” and “White People”, and recently launched a new media site called, Emerging US. Did we mention we was also detained for several hours at the Texas/Mexico border? (He was eventually released.)
He now calls Los Angeles home, but really it’s a temporary place to lay his head when he isn’t traveling to the next town, the next speaking engagement, the next television interview.
I asked him if to be selfish for a moment. Ask what he wants? What Jose wants? He takes a second to think about it and replies that he has too many responsibilities.
“How do I find peace? You know, I ve never really had that,” he said. “I’ve been running for so long and in many ways it’s the only thing I know to do. I wonder what I would happen to me if I just stopped.”
Watch Jose Antonio Vargas’ full interview here:

Also, this month on Asian American Life:
The U.S.A has been the land of opportunity for immigrants, but many of the children of these immigrants are returning back to their parents homeland for work. Reporter Tinabeth Piña talks to one expat living in India about her journey.
New York is full of interesting ethnic cuisines, Reporter Kyung Yoon explores a new startup helping refugees bring their food to your home.


Reporter Minnie Roh meets the world’s oldest master yogi who’s an award winning ballroom dancer, a filmmaker, an actress, and a WWII resistance fighter who marched with Ghandi.
Reporter Paul Lin profiles artist Collette Fu who creates the world’s largest pop-up books, combining photographer, bookmaking and sculpture.
Watch the entire November show here:

Asian American Life is produced by CUNY-TV and can now be seen in syndication at select PBS stations across the country.
Check your local listings for more information.
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We are an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter, sharing our stories, interning or joining our staff.


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