MV's Vargas: America's most famous undocumented immigrant Other Issues, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Jul 14, 2011 at 11:40 am
Following his startling personal story in The New York Times magazine, Mountain View's Pulitzer Prize-winner Jose Antonio Vargas has apparently pulled off the impossible over the last few weeks, starting a fresh conversation on radio and television about immigration in the U.S. He sat down with the Voice to talk about his decision, and his next steps.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 14, 2011, 10:00 AM
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 11:40 am
This is not about immigration, this is not about taking someone else's job, this is not about being a threat, this is not about having one's dreams dashed. This is about allowing individuals to decide which laws don't apply to them and giving them the prospect of amnesty after they have broken those laws.
There is a common thread through all of the Jose Vargas articles, discussion and quotes. It is always about Jose Vargas - it is about Jose Vargas' accomplishments, it is about Jose Vargas' hard work, it is about Jose Vargas being afraid of being exposed, it is about Jose Vargas worrying if he has taken someone's job, it is about the advice Jose Vargas received from his mentors. Indeed, the Jose Vargas story is an interesting one, and perhaps the US would be a better place with an extra ten million Jose Vargases. But this issue not about Jose Vargas, this is about allowing anyone in the world (or their parents) who believes they (or their children) would benefit from living in the US to do so - regardless of the law.
I wonder at what point these new citizens would ask for immigration laws be enforced to stem the tide of new immigrants? The same laws that they decided did not apply to them.
Posted by Bruno, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm
Get over it Steve. How come I only see these comments when the article is about an illegal Latino. Not much outrage over the kid from Norway, and you can bet at least one of his parents came here to take a job. Half the people on this board who complain about immigrants think they can tell one just by looking at them.
Posted by justice, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm
I know ha! The audacity of some people who think they know better than the laws that exist now! It's the same thing (insert formerly oppressed peoples here) did back in the day. It's so wrong and un-American!
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm
He's a criminal and should be deported. Being successful is not justification for breaking the law. Fear of the repercussions of breaking the law is the reason many people obey and respect our laws. His grandmother should also be charged with supporting criminal activity as well as audited by the State and Federal government. Who wants to bet immigration laws weren't the only laws Vargas and his family deemed as not applying to them?
Posted by James, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm
It seems pretty obvious that we need to rethink our immigration/citizenship categories. Those who want to argue that someone who came here illegally as a child would probably all agree that young children have no legal responsibility as minors for that. Going to school for years here and becoming an adult seems to me to demand that we institute a new category of long-term non-citizen residency that would only be open to children brought here below an agreed upon age, and who behave according to expected standards. To do otherwise is simply unfair. Certainly the adults involved all broke our laws, including those folks who encourage lying etc...but children in these circumstances are, by their nature and our common law heritage, blameless. The next step would be to provide a channel to full citizenship of course, but that's a separate and lesser issue.
Posted by Leia, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm
Who wants to be that most of your families came from some other place? And, who wants to be that it did not take them 10 years of waiting to get into this country? And, it did not cost them tons of money to become a citizen.
Those things are the reality these days...years of waiting & tons of money.
Sure, it is easy to sit back and say this is the law, they are illegal...blah, blah. But think about your families - what would they have done if it was not so easy back then. The answer is: YOU HAVE NO IDEA!
Posted by Sabrina, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm
I agree with James, to criminalize Vargas is unfair considering that he was 16 when he was brought to this country by family. We need to develop an appropriate policy to deal with this type of case delicately. I can understand why Vargas wants to open up a dialogue about this important issue, though I am not really sure how much success he will have in making any major changes.
There are big hurdles to pass and it will take a mass effort to change any laws that are in place. Biased immigration policies have been a major part of contemporary US history, just look at the Chinese Exclusion Act and then the Magnuson Act that wasn't repealed until 1965. Social change is not as easy as the trolls on this website may have you believe, obviously.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm
@Leia - I moved to California in October of 1998. I received my green card in October of 2008. I know exactly how long it takes and how much it costs. It does not take "tons of money". The total of all the application fees plus a lawyer are less than $2,000 - less than what a coyote costs.
Posted by Thom, a resident of the Jackson Park neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm
"A former Mountain View High School student and Voice intern"
So you hired a criminal to intern for you? You can change it and call him 'undocumented' if you'd like but he took an internship from a US citizen and is in my country as a criminal. The family should be sent back to Manila.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm
@James, @Sabrina - by granting amnesty to those who were sent to the US by their parents, we open our doors to every nation in the world sending their children into the US in hopes they'll stay in school and gain citizenship. If we simply allow the (grown) children to stay, and cannot prosecute the parents because they are in another country - it becomes a free-for-all.
Posted by David, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm
"Former Mountain View High school student, and former undocumented immigrant since 5 years old"
America needs to make a new policy for children that are brought over to the US against their will. We did not brake law. Our lives, personalities and friendships are formed and shaped in this country. Like it or not, it is our country and moving back to our native land would be like a first generation legal immigrant going back their native country. I would be lost and a foreigner there. We are also not taking anyone's job; if you are good at what you do then you should be able to rise against the rest.
Posted by Bruno, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm
Are you sure he's not Latino? I guess the name Jose Antonio Vargas threw me off, sue me. If you want him deported so bad you should call the authorities or place him under citizens arrest. If you can't do that, maybe you should worry about something/somebody else.
Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community, on Jul 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm
What about those illegal immigrant youths who became thieves, robbers, drug dealers and killers?
Isn't that last year an illegal immigrant gang member, who was at that time protected by the San Francisco city government from deportation, killed a father and his two young sons on the street? What about thugs like him?
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:28 am
@David - although the solution of not punishing those that immigrated illegally as minors may seem fair (as the DREAM Act proposes), it encourages parents to send their children to the US - as Vargas' parents sent him. Or the parents immigrate illegally themselves, knowing that their children would be accepted. This leaves the children being raised by parents who have difficulty supporting their family and constantly hiding from the law - not exactly an ideal environment. Also, if the parents are discovered, it leaves the US in the awkward position of having to deport the parents, but keeping the children.
As the law stands, the parents know full well the consequences of sending or bringing minor children illegally to the US. Vargas' parents willfully broke the law, and the consequence is that Vargas should/would be sent/go to a country where he is a stranger. Sure it would be unfair to Vargas - there are lots of things that parents do that have unfair consequences to their children.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:33 am
"Are you sure he's not Latino? I guess the name Jose Antonio Vargas threw me off, sue me"
It seems you are the one judging people by the color of their skin or their names, not me. Vargas is Filipino.
Get over it Steve. How come I only see these comments when the article is about an illegal Latino. Not much outrage over the kid from Norway, and you can bet at least one of his parents came here to take a job. Half the people on this board who complain about immigrants think they can tell one just by looking at them. "
Posted by Bruno, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2011 at 11:16 am
Again, so what? I was wrong about his ethnicity after reading his name.
Perhaps I should have said that the outrage over illegals is mainly targeted towards brown people. Is that better? I don't remember seeing a single article or comment expressing anger over a European illegal. They're out there too, just less fun to single out apparently.
Posted by Bruno, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm
I'm not getting your Shannon reference, so I think you're missing something.
I know enough, the guy is illegal he went to M.V. High, worked for the Voice and the Chronicle and won a Pulitzer. As a local, he's probably a good role model for other kids, but if you want to paint him as a criminal that's your right. I'm responding to all of the negative comments on here because they are full of self-righteous judgment and it bothers me. European and Canadian immigrants make up less than 4%? I doubt it. But I guess you're right, it's not like people single out any one race when talking about illegals, it just seems that way because I'm a liberal. Like if there were a high amount of Asian immigrants here who were taking jobs and didn't speak the language, I'm sure you'd be just as upset.
Posted by Maybe a brighter future for Jose, a resident of another community, on Jul 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm
Iím glad Jose Vargas is strong willed enough to admit heís been breaking the law however, if he has any sincere integrity, he should go back to the Philippines, as hard as it will be, to do the right thing and go thru the process to enter the U.S.A legally. He would be more of an inspiration rather than an embarrassment, not just to Filipinos but to all law abiding immigrants, like me for instance. He may even be a bigger hero in the Philippines if he can help the country where he was born and where his mother is currently living, become a nation of success, not just for himself or his family but for future generations of Filipinos.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm
Glad to see the debate still raging. Let's divide into 3 groups: A) he's a confessed criminal, and should be treated as such. B) He's a confessed criminal, but deserves a special pass. C) He's not really a criminal at all.
We can lose group C right off...look up 'criminal' in the dictionary. If you don't like the definition, take it up with Merriam and Webster.
Between A and B, it's more a debate about law enforcement than immigration. Should we arbitrarily waive a law if it displeases us? If so, who decides which laws are waived, and for whom?
Posted by Ned, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm
I'd like to know how he continues to work and get paid in the US after flaunting his criminal life. Apparently he is now above the law, when before he was just another illegal. He should be deported and his employer fined.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm
"I'm responding to all of the negative comments on here because they are full of self-righteous judgment and it bothers me."
You were not. You were responding directly to my post - it was the only post at the time, and you also wrote "Get over it Steve.". And there was nothing self-righteous in my post. I simply said that people cannot be allowed to decide which laws do not apply to them.
Posted by irony, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm
Does anyone find it ironic that the Voice put the story of Jose Vargas pushing for amnesty/DREAM Act next to the story of parents who are fed up with wait lists because of too many students?
Why do we need to give amnesty to illegal immigrants when our schools are overcrowded, millions are unemployed, etc? The US does not have enough money, resources, jobs, schools, housing, health care, etc., for all the legal residents/US citizens, so why would we even think about giving amnesty to illegal immigrants?
Jose took a seat and a college scholarship as well as a job from a legal resident/US citizen, so we should reward him with citizenship?
In addition to coming to this country illegally Jose could be charged with falsifying documents to work, forging documents to get a Social Security number, making false statements on an I-9 form, making false statements to get a driverís license, etc. The laws Jose broke have penalties of 5-15 years as well as fines of $250,000. Which one of the laws that Jose broke is not serious? Why do we only prosecute legal residents/US citizens when they falsify documents?
Jose argues we have already invested in the illegalsí K-12 education, so why not pay for college too? If it costs $130,000 ($10,000 per year times 13 years) to educate a student from K-12, then what happens if the illegal immigrant drops out, joins a gang, does drugs, gets pregnant, etc? Should we continue to fund them so we donít lose our investment? We should send the K-12 bill to the countries the illegal immigrants are from and deport the students and families.
We currently ask students to provide proof of residency, so why not ask of proof of citizenship? E-Verify could easily cross check documents. If the student is illegal, then report them to ICE. If a student is illegal and in a gang and/or causing problems, then report them to ICE. ICE should be able to investigate the entire gangbangerís family and if they are here illegally, then deport them.
When the 1986 amnesty law was passed, employers, law enforcement, the president, Congress, government officials, etc., promised that immigration laws would be strictly enforced. So, what happened? Why arenít people illegally in this country being deported? Why arenít we using e-verify for jobs, welfare, food stamps, Section 8 housing, Medicare, Social Security, disability, voting etc. It is quick and easy and very accurate.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm
Is there anybody out there to make a LOGICAL argument for granting Mr. Vargas exemption from the law? Please be specific, and include all the functional details: How to apply for special priveledges, who grants them, how the selection committee is chosen, what laws can be ignored, etc.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm
The premise of your question is moot: everyone knows what should happen to Mr. Vargas under current law, its spelled out in black and white.
But the issue that is being raised by myself and others, and by Mr. Vargas, is that the issue that needs discussion is more than just what should happen to illegal immigrants under current law, but what do we as a country want our immigration law to be in the future. And its evident that on THAT score, we are far from agreement as Americans.
Its all fine and dandy to use the rule of law as the basis for guidance on this issue, but if its your ONLY basis for guidance, its not enough.
If it were, we wouldn't need people to run our government, just a computer.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm
Having failed to make the case that 'he's such a great guy, he should be allowed to stay', the argument has shifted to 'the law is bad, and needs to be changed'. That may be true, but what now of Mr. Vargas?
So, are we all in agreement? Send him back? Or does anyone have an intelligent alternative whereby he's allowed to stay, yet not set precedent for every other law to be arbitrarily ignored?
I'm disappointed, no one in favor of granting him special favors has been able to explain how.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm
Um, reading through this thread, I'd say its you who is changing the subject, or rather, reducing to fit your argument. The discussion has been and still is about illegal immigration in general, and Mr. Vargas secondarily. He is a poster child for a point of view (One that I agree with on certain points, and disagree with on others), nothing more. And with regards to illegal immigration, the case has been made for alternative viewpoints (I suggested a restitution plan for immigrants that grew up here as children), in this thread and others related. You've just been selective in what you choose to hear and believe, and are content with simplifying the issue to suit your needs and/or personal vendettas.
Or to put it another way, feel free to keep counting trees, while others address what to do with the forest.
Posted by Monique, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2011 at 8:43 am
It is immoral and unethical and wrong to punish the children for the actions of their parents. I am deeply troubled that we seem to have become a nation that will not find a way to grant rights to the undocumented children that find themselves in a terrible place as adults through no fault of their own.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:48 am
Although sending a child to their home country may seem unfair, it is by no means punishment. It is unfair only in the sense that they have little connection with their home country, and only their parents are to blame for that - for involving their child in a crime. Parents do all kinds of things that result in unfair consequences for their children.
We should not reward parents that break the law with amnesty for their children - after all, that's why they broke the law in the first place.
Posted by Just have to ask, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:53 am
OK, so we can then send all their parents who brought them over back home once we grant their children citizenship, right? Or is that immoral and unethical? What role do the parents play in all this? What do they deserve. The devil is in the details. No different if a legal citizen starts breaking laws left and right. Guess what? There are plenty of legal citizen children suffering in this country because of stupid parents that always had a great reason for breaking the law. Where do they fall in your line for handouts?
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm
I agree that disregarding current immigration law cannot be allowed to continue. Regardless of the differing viewpoints on this issue, there should be no debate as to the current immigration status of people who reside in this country without proper documentation: they are here illegally.
There should also be no disagreement that people caught entering illegally should be returned to their country of origin.
The real question (and where I differ from those advocating strict deportation of ALL illegal immigrants) is what to do with those people who are here already and are illegal. Because the US has been lax in its enforcement of current immigration law, and has done so for a long enough time that we now have a generation of people who are children of illegal immigrants, it poses additional problems that must be considered.
We've heard the importance of the rule of law, and we've heard the cry for decency and leniency, but we should consider other factors involved in whatever action we decide to take, as a country.
1. What will it cost to implement any given solution?
2. What will reasonably pass a divided Congress?
3. What option will continue to attract and promote emigration of highly skilled and highly educated individuals to this country?
4. What option aligns with our core values as Americans?
5. What option will eliminate or discourage illegal immigration in the future?
6. What option is readily enforceable in the long run?
The best solution will be the one that addresses all of these requirements. The worst one will address little or none of them.
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm
I admire your resolve and opinions. But tell me this. What do we do with, say, and illegal man who has fathers several kids by two women who are all also illegal. The kids are a mess and falling behind in elementary school, and on every free program available to include free breakfast, lunch, after-school programs, WICK, summer school, etc. The father is in jail and two of the mothers are on welfare and not working. One of the mothers just welcomed in a now pregnant sister and brother-in-law (not married) with a fourth grader who is basically illiterate. The were all recently smuggled in. BTW, the original couple (actually, a threesome) used to live in those apartments over by Slater that the City condemned and helped pay to more the occupants. One of the women does hold down a job a night. One of her kids is special ed autistic. BTW, this is a true story. So please, help me here.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm
I suggest you come up with a solution and then vet it thru the criteria I've laid out. That will give you a better understanding of whether or not your solution is a good one.
...You're asking for a quick and dirty answer, which in real life, rarely is available. To bring up anecdotal examples does not represent accurately what should be done globally. And the very premise to expect any single individual to give you an answer that pops out of slot is one of the main obstacles in reaching an intelligent answer for an issue as serious and far-reaching as illegal immigration.
I've espoused my suggestions and ideas on this matter quite extensively on this forum, arguably in greater detail and more reasoning than, "They're illegal, deport them", or "Don't be mean, let them stay". Neither encompasses enough to be a convincing argument.
And even if I gave you a detailed answer that addresses every single problem posed in your scenario, that would only invite someone else to raise another case...strawman arguments are unproductive.
What needs to be remembered is that government policy at its best is a shotgun, not a scalpel, so the best we can expect is to do the greatest good for the most people possible.
And because this is the case, because there will always be exceptions to the rule that will make any government policy seem unjust, its vital to ensure that whatever policy is put into practiced aligns as closely as possible to the core values and factors I've listed above.
And before anyone jumps to conclusions, NO, "majority rules" is not the idea here, its the majority that gets vetted thru the factors I've listed that make good policy.
I'll know when progress has been made on this issue: once I start seeing people compromise on ideology, and embrace a more comprehensive solution that accommodates more than just one viewpoint.
You'll notice that's starting to happen with the budget debate.
Posted by Don Reisinger, a resident of another community, on Jul 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm
The answer is simple: Develop a comprehensive immigration policy that applies to immigrants of all nations and then enforce it.
The problem: The very people who are responsible for developing this policy are the ones who hesitate to do so in fear they will alienate a voting "bloc". So they talk in circular terms with no commitment to any policy.
To all those who doubt: Look up the phrase "It's all about the votes" it applies to ALL politicians these days and is a applicable explanation for their actions or inactions. No action is taken or not taken without a conversation about what the voting implications may be.
To Sheila: It is my belief that the majority of Americans - of all political - ilks are in favor of responsible immigration. I also believe that the vast majority are equally opposed to ILLEGAL immigration. In spite of what the mass media would portray, there is a difference.
Posted by another observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm
Hardin, Observerís scenario is all too common within the illegal immigrant community. It is not a Strawman argument, it is reality. Jose Vargasí story/life is a very rare exception. Additionally, your argument that the illegals have been breaking the law for such a long time that we need to allow them a path to citizenship is flawed. If a parent has been embezzling money for 20 years do we allow the parent to continue to embezzle the money because he/she has been doing it for so long and the family is ďuse to that lifestyle?Ē If a dad robs a bank does the family get to keep the proceeds because we do not want the children to be denied?
Whether illegal immigrants have been here for 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years they will always argue that they can never go back to their country because they are ďuse to our lifestyle.Ē
When the 1986 amnesty law was passed, employers, law enforcement, the president, Congress, government officials, etc., promised that immigration laws would be strictly enforced. So, what happened? We need to hold our politicians, employers, and the illegals themselves to account for not keeping the law/promise.
Sheila, you sympathize with the illegals, but what about the many, many US citizens and legal residents who are suffering because they cannot get enough to eat, they cannot find jobs, health care, housing, good schools, etc. And where is your sympathy for our elderly who cannot afford to take care of themselves and who are losing benefits because we do not have enough money to take care of our elderly and all of the illegals?
The United States cannot be the sole answer to the world's problems. It is not working for the US or for the countries the illegal immigrants came from.
The US is drowning in debt as well as other problems and the US needs to help people legally in this country. We have too many of our own problems and we do not have enough money, jobs, or resources to try to fix the world. It is bankrupting us. Every country and citizen needs to work to fix and improve his/her own country. Countries must stop sending people here illegally who then take advantage of our social programs, fill seats and take scholarships at our universities, take our jobs, overwhelm our schools, health care systems, and food banks, and then send money home.
We have one of the most generous immigration systems and it is wrong and unfair to let someone break our laws and jump ahead of others. We will never end illegal immigration as long as illegal immigrants know that once they arrive they will get all the benefits and protection of citizenship and much more. We need to use e-verify at all levels of our government if we hope to end illegal immigration and we need to help the millions of legal residents and US citizens who are suffering in this country.
I challenge Jose Vargas to go back to the Philippines and start improving the Philippines right now and for future generations just as our founding fathers did. Help make the Philippines a thriving first world country. That would be truly heroic!
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Jul 22, 2011 at 10:47 am
"Hardin, Observerís scenario is all too common within the illegal immigrant community. It is not a Strawman argument, it is reality."
Really? If you are basing your statement on what you THINK is the case, or what you've heard second-hand, or what you've seen on TV, and not based on verifiable, measurable data, then it most certainly is a strawman argument, or at the very least, your opinion, NOT fact.
"Additionally, your argument that the illegals have been breaking the law for such a long time that we need to allow them a path to citizenship is flawed."
You've misrepresented my statements. I said that because the federal government has failed to effectively enforce and uphold existing laws, we are in the situation we are in now. Yes, people should be held to account for the crimes they commit, but this concept still doesn't address the generation of children that have grown up illegal in this country, due to no fault of their own.
"When the 1986 amnesty law was passed, employers, law enforcement, the president, Congress, government officials, etc., promised that immigration laws would be strictly enforced. So, what happened? We need to hold our politicians, employers, and the illegals themselves to account for not keeping the law/promise."
No argument here, what we have now is a direct result of people not doing their job when they were suppose to. As I've noted before, any solution to this problem needs to put into place rigorous enforcement that can be sustained in the long term.
But this is just a statement of fact. Its not a solution. Of course the laws should be strictly enforced to prevent illegal immigration. But is it smart or right to apply this rule to a generation that has grown up in America due to laxed enforcement by our government? Like it or not, America has SOME culpability in the predicament we are in now. As much as we need to exert accountability on those who break the law, we also need to walk the talk and take responsibility for our own failings in this matter.