Town Square

Post a New Topic

Guest opinion: My hometown hero, Jose Vargas

Original post made on Jun 30, 2011

It's here. It's finally here, I thought to myself. Wall posts bombarded the Facebook profile with "thank yous" for his bravery and inspiration. My heart skipped a beat as I scrolled down the Facebook profile belonging to Jose Antonio Vargas, Mountain View High alum and renowned journalist. A link to "My Life as An Undocumented Immigrant" was posted, ready for my eyes to read.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 30, 2011, 10:51 AM

Comments (66)

Posted by Spaghetti Freddie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Fortunately, no adverse effects are suffered through illegal immigration. We know, because responsible journalists, like the staff writers at the Voice, would certainly tell us about it in the same level of detail given here were that the case.

The illegal immigrants of this country represent a cross section of humanity that chose to cut the que that millions of other hard working and honest people were, and are, waiting in. They operate under the concept that it's ok to behave that way, and why not, they are rewarded for it. I disagree with that conclusion, and it is insulting and purely political for anyone to equate our countries proud history of immigrants who cherish and obey our laws with those who choose not to solely for personal gain.

Posted by Mandy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Blah, blah, blah, I can't read anything past the second paragraph. Illegal immigration is ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. No matter how many colors someone wants to paint a story, it's still black and white. Your illegally here, you are not illegally here. Everytime someone opens the door a crack to allow for special circumstances, the onslot of tag-a-longs kicks the door wide open and the flood ensues. Stop pandering to illegal immigrants and put our resources where they belong: In the hands of those legally permitted to be and reap benefits of this country! Period.

Posted by matthew
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Breaking laws is not the answer regardless of your intent as a parent and a person.Everybody has dreams and goals for themselves and their families.But in life you can not and will not always get what you want.And your actions in life will dictate the path of your character and self worth.The blatant disregard for the laws of the United States by your elders is clearly an integral part of your character as well Mr.Vargas .You have broken and abused the laws and system of this country to further your own personal agenda long enough.If you have any decency left you will do the right thing and publicly apologize for your actions and repay all the privileges that you took advantage of.And submit yourself to the proper authorities for voluntary deportation.

Posted by The Hulkster
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Noone complained when the economy was booming and everyone was buying homes like mad-men on steroids. Now that our own greed and excess of lifestyle has brought down the economy, now we try and scapegoat and blame illegals for coming to America and taking our jobs. Yet our own American companies take jobs oversees to make more profit.

Of course its a bit more complicated than that but you get the main picture.

Posted by Rene
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I'm still not impressed. Can we just move on? He's not my hero, he's a criminal.

Posted by Econ
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm

earlier in the century it was about the market economy vs socialism or market vs fairness. It was overwhelmingly won by our market economy where we produce what we consume and not the government guiding our lives. But as things have played out in the 21st century, we have gone a stray to the point that the rich and poor gap has rise exponentially. We can assume things will get better but it wont. People wake up and smell the global revolution that will take place among us.

Posted by Army Vet
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm

What an insult to read.

"We yearned for a better understanding of cultural identity, and defining what's American." So this is the kind of brainwashing that goes on in MV public schools.

"Bravery and inspiration", "this man is so admirable, so daring", can all these qualities be found in our troops overseas who fight for citizens, not illegals, and to defend the constitution.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Wow. My hero, a deceteful lying sneak. Oh, and also a common criminal.

Posted by Ive got a fix
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Lets start another world war and that will cure our problems. This is a guarantee! Whoever wins gets to shape civilization for the next 50-100 years. Plain and simple solution to our brink-of-collapse global economy.

Posted by to illegal alien
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I prefer a gun loving WASP to an illegal alien any day of the week!

Posted by Anon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Undocumented immigrants, on average, contribute far more to the US economy than they cost, that is a simple mathmatical fact. Jose Vargas is indeed an inspiration and he deserves to be looked up to. Thanks Katherine for your thoughtful and honest praise of a daring young man.

Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Sounds great, Katherine Pantangco. Let us make him a city manager or elect him to the MV city council and buy him home on the nicer side of MV. And How about those undocumented aliens with criminal records? WHat would you like to do with them?

Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm

""Guys, he's Filipino, all the more exciting!"

Wow. Should I be laughing, now?. I didn't know that American women love Flipino guys. Note to myself. Genetic research on Filipino men.

Posted by Mandy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

to Anon - Obviously you don't have any children in the Mtn. View school district who can't get help from their teachers because he/she gives 90% of his/her attention to students where ENGLISH is the SECOND language spoken in their home. Or as a US citizen, you've never been able to get to the front of the line for even a tiny bit of subsidation for your child care expenses because the list is packed with illegal aliens who suck up all the funds.

Your claim that undocumented immigrants (correction: ILLEGAL ALIENS) contribute more to the US ecomony is so far off base! You tell me HOW a family of four illegal aliens (median age - 32, with an average household of four, seven years education, an hourly wage of $5.45, an annual individual income of $8,982, and annual family income of $15,364)can possible contribute more to their community than they use in 'available public resources'??

In addition, what about the effect of displacing American workers? The roughly 730,000 low-skilled workers a year who lose their jobs because of competition from illegal alien workers, of which 70% are Mexican!!

Open your eyes, he isn't a daring young man. He's just another user who is stealing from you (unless your illegal too).

Posted by John
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Illegal aliens or not, there is already an established settlement of Mexican-Americans that get treated the same as illegals. So if you arent going to integrate them into society then get rid of them. Lets continue to segregate ourselves and fear each other because of different ethnicities and beliefs. Wake up America and show your true beacon of light and intellect that you have shown in previous generations.

Posted by I hate stats
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Everyone can interpret stats to accommodate their agenda. Stop manipulating the numbers and get real with who your country is and what its becoming.

Nations other than the US are starting to prosper and obviously we have to compete with them at any cost. Therefore we bring it workers to do the menial jobs and use our real citizens to be productive and compete with rising nations like China and India.

If you don't want to be a global leader and power in this world, then denounce your way of living and life. Dnt shop at walmart or give farm subsidies to farmers. Let the economy run amock and ill guarantee you that we will collapse.

Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm

In this case, the effort to redefine what being an American is appears to be an effort to rationalize a wrong.

Looking at Mr. Vargas's website,

Web Link

Here is an attempt to liken the struggles of african american slaves to that of the illegal immigrant. I reject the comparison for one simple reason: african americans were brought to this country against their will, illegal immigrants are not. That is a huge difference and trying to repackage this issue into another Civil Rights cause is misleading and oversimplifying a more complicated issue.

The website starts off with a premise I agree with, that there needs to be a new national dialogue to discuss this issue, but it goes completely downhill from there by ignoring current rule of law, and focusing on perceived discrimination.

I don't buy the argument, "well my parents brought me here so its not my fault". An individual who truly believes in the ideals of America, and aspires to be a citizen would respect the current laws in place, no matter how flawed and unjust, and then work to change them through the prescribed processes in place.

Mr. Vargas, if you truly want to be a responsive, productive American, you don't need to redefine the term to suit your needs.

Mr. Vargas gained my respect for admitting his immigration status. He then promptly lost my respect, and his credibility in this issue, when I witnessed what his follow on actions and responses to his status, have been.

Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm

How noble of our left wing writers and teachers to say how wonderful Vargas is, how wise, how this, how that.

He is a criminal, and in coming out as such, he should be the local example of deportation. Let him write about slums in Manilla, etc... let him raise his own people up instead of taking from our country.

If I were a bank robber, I too would bust my butt to "fit in", to be loved, to make everyone adore me....

If he truly has the principles that he claims, he would voluntarily deport, get in line, and maybe get to come back.

Posted by shockedandappalled
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Wait - have Fox News watchers taken over MV? And I thought this country was in a mess mainly due to the small minded/ignorant thinking in the midwest and southern US - who would dream such intolerance is so rampant in our own community? To the person who wrote it's black and white - very little in life is black and white. If you can't read the story of Jose Vargas and feel admiration for what he has accomplished against such incredible odds, too bad for you. The only thing I thought when I read this story was that I certainly hope I would have been one of the adults in his life who helped him succeed rather than fail. There is enough failure. Who wouldn't think the immigration problem is huge and needs to be solved!? These are human beings, and if you've ceased to be able to see that you need to take a look inward.

Posted by Mandy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

OMG! I am so sick of 'insert your heritage here'/American.

What is African/America? A person born in Africa who now has US citizenship? No, most likely you are referring to the average black american born right here in the USA. Stop comparing events and the and the circumstances of how people lived on this continent more than TWO HUNDRED years ago to the man/woman/child of today who sneak into this country to use our resources and take jobs without the benefit of citizenship.

My grandfather was Danish/American. He earned that title by being born in Denmark, immigrating to the US, obtaining his legal citizenship and forging a life here. Just because my skin is white and my hair blond doesn't mean I too can call myself a Danish/American. I am American. And I am so tired of taking a back seat in my own neighborhood to those that ARE NOT when it comes to government funded resources. Remember it's my freak'n tax dollars that are funding those resources.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Apparently a bunch of tea-baggers and Republicons are hiding among us. Who would have thought. No wonder gay marriage and pot legalization didn't pass.

Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Anyone surprised that the same crowd that is bashing Mr Vargas will also pile on against a very skilled young writer?

Me either...

Posted by Ron is our solution
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Vote Ron Paul and get small government. End all wars i.e. War on terror and War on drugs. Ron Paul may truly be a game changer. I hope he does challenge Obama (its unfortunate he may have to do it as a Republicant). I for one believe that we need a big reset button to rebuild our nation and then truly define what an American is cuz im really tired of all the illegal alien crap and having to press 1 for English when i call the government.

Vote for Ron Paul as a candidate that will set the record straight and not deceive America. One that will fight against wall street and the Fed. Honestly who wouldn't vote for him on his consistent libertarian record?

Posted by Amazin
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Very proud of you guys, this thread has yet to be locked. Thanks everyone for keeping the name calling to yourselves. What do you know, Americans can still argue with one another and be civil at the same time.

Congrats posters!

Posted by CA Brusven
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Thank you, Katherine, for your excellent opinion article. You wrote so well that apparently most who read it didn't realize that you are a high school student. They don't seem aware that you wrote about a nationally-renowned, Pulitzer prize winning journalist who came from his home in New York City to address your high school journalism class at his alma mater. While I recognize that the topic of undocumented aliens can elicit emotional responses (as seen in some of the illogical and irrelevant comments your article has collected), your treatment of the visit by a home-town kid made good was engaging and thoughtful.

A courageous young man, Jose is putting himself at the center of this controversy by making his immigration status known. I admire your courage in declaring him to be your hero. I just regret that you have subjected yourself to some of the less considered comments from the community.

Since most readers who have commented seem unaware that Jose was sent by his parents to live with his grandmother in MV when he was 12, I am noting the url for a recent NPR article about Jose Vargas below. The more I read by and about this reporter, the more I find to like about him. Web Link

Posted by Really?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm

For all of you who continue to call Jose a criminal: Remember, he was 12 years old when he was brought to America. Yes, maybe you throw the grandparents in jail if that makes you feel better but let's all look at our own children at 12, or even 16 when he realized that he was illegal. I'm sure all of your children would have 'done the right thing' and stepped back on a plane and flown back 'to where he belongs'. So typical to sit back and be the judge and jury. Any kid would be terrified and he could have done many truly wrong things, but his gut told him to work hard and it would be okay, America was now his home. It' so easy to sit back and condemn, why don't we start looking for solutions instead.

Please stop going back to your noble grandparents who came to this country back when it was about a million times easier to do so, that argument makes about as much sense as condemning African Americans, who have been kept in impoverished communities generation after generation, for being poor and a drain on the system. Let's show some humanity as we debate this situation.

Posted by Really?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I'm sorry, I too meant to commend the author! Thank you for sharing your experience with a thoughtful and inspired article.

Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Thanks for a moving, inspiring tribute to a great man.

Posted by Commenter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

My parents immigrated here legally. So did my wife's. I have several cousins (adults with children) I would love to bring to the US if I could. They have visited here on tourists visas and love it. My question to all of you who support Vargas is: Should I go ahead and bring them here on a tourist visa, and then just have them stay with me illegally? The kids could attend MV schools, the adults could hang out and get employment at the Day Worker Center, health care would be free down at Valley Medical Center, etc. However, the reason I haven't brought them here and enabled any of the suggested scenario to occur is because, believe it or not, I respect the rule of law. And I know plenty of other legal immigrants who think the same. It's heartbreaking to know you have family other places in this world that could thrive here like we do, but can't because of immigration laws. And then there are those that sneak in, or sneak their children or grandchildren in. Vargas and his grandparents should be fully prosecuted, deported, and put at the back of the line. In the meantime, the rest of us law-abiding citizens or whatever immigrant heritage are just suckers and chumps.

Posted by hosey himenez
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm

He is not a hero, he is a criminal. Please deport him

Posted by PurpleSky
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I am Nishnawbe and I am indigenous of Turtle Island and I would like to contribute to this debate. I have not heard any mention, any consideration at all, from Mr. Vargas in regards to the impacts of overseas immigration to this continent and the continuous impact on the First Peoples of this continent who have been here for thousands of years. What does he have to say about this? Obviously, from what I can gather, he is only addressing his concerns to other colonizing people as if the original people of these lands don't exist and don't have a say. Why should Mr. Vargas, who originates from overseas, believe he should be a priority to live here when there are indigenous people of this continent (such as from Mexico) who are constantly being deprived of their right to movement and migration on this continent? Why is it that Mr. Vargas, who boasts about being educated, has no sense, no respect, no awareness, no consideration for the history of this continent?

Posted by Pedro A.
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2011 at 6:00 am

If the country didn't have a LEGAL PRECEDURE for people to come in, I would be in favor of amnesty but the truth is very different. My mother entered the country LEGALLY, years later I received my green card and as such, I entered the country LEGALLY at the age of 14. My mother made the decision to go thru the process as stablished by INS, because she understood that even though it was hard, tedious and time consuming, IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. But the people who come illegally and would actually bring their children, are people whom simply chose not to go thru the procedure, disobey the law and as such, they shouldn't be rewarded but instead punished. Send them back to their own countries and if they truly wish to be here, they will go thru the process like millions of dreamers worldwide, that are waiting their turn.
After all, are we a system of law or an anarchist state?

Posted by B
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 1, 2011 at 8:47 am

Now that we know this guy has cheated the laws of our country and is currently bragging about it, he should be deported!

Posted by Vote
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

I find it interesting the comment about legislation not passing. It makes me ponder how many times Mr. Vargas voted in elections past his 18th birthday. While getting by with a little help from his friends, Mr. Vargas had all the documents he needed to register to vote. I ask you this. Does your vote really count? How does it make you feel to know that Mr. Vargas and “millions like him” cancel out your vote on Election Day?

Posted by concerned and thoughtful
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm

No doubt that Mr. Vargas has talent, intellect and has contributed much to the country he now lives in. Those qualities and contributions are not what is of issue however. I can't help but wonder how his actions are seen by the people who have pursued the legal course of action by striving to live here legally and who daily contribute to this country legally. Does it somehow diminish or demean their desire and effort ? I would find it easier to admire a man who chose to do the right thing once he found out that he was not here legally. He still can choose to do the right thing, rather than making this an issue of policy or whether we agree with our immigration laws. That indeed would be admirable and make him a man of integrity.

Posted by JPlatt
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm

While we consider Mr. Vargas, let's all avoid the illogical train of thought - because he is good all illegal aliens should be allowed to stay. Elsewhere you can read of one illegal alien who is violent and amoral, with the implication that because he is bad, all illegal aliens should be deported. This too is poor thinking.

Mr. Vargas case is interesting, but does little to illuminate the general discussion.

Posted by Elice
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 2, 2011 at 6:31 am

What are they teaching in MV schools these days? This reads like a syrupy, liberal propaganda piece. Not an ounce of objectivity.

I would suggest to the writer that a big part of being an American is our belief in he supremacy of the rule of law.

Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Immigration isn't a simple issue, but it certainly is not correct or heroic to defraud or hide the truth from people when you know your actions are most definitely wrong. There's plenty of blame to go around and the bottom line is to move forward with the proper reforms to solve our issues. I must say that even though I understand people helping illegal aliens, it is not acceptable to have those in public jobs turning their back on the law. This is where we need a system of sorting out each individual case and figuring out a way to help the people who deserve it. We need to remember that there is a difference between not knowing and knowing you're doing something wrong and doing the right thing as soon as you are aware. We also need to quit acting as if a person who does something wrong for years can suddenly be admired as if they were doing the right things all along. It wasn't right that a star in the NBA was sleeping with lots of women and telling us he is HIV positive does not make him a hero, but a guy with bad morals that caught up. It also doesn't make a guy who lives here illegally one just because people like him. The problem is with us as we can't seem to make laws that give certain people a way to come clean and possibly get fair treatment if they deserve it. The bottom line is doing right or wrong and not what you do while you can get away with it. It isn't a good idea to put people on a podium just because they admit they've made mistakes, you are not some great person once you have done your damage. Instead of promoting an attitude of forgive and forget, we need to take care of the problems at hand and find a way to prevent them in the future. Forgiving is good, but if you got HIV from someone who wasn't living right, how hard would it be to get over it. If you spend years trying to get legal status, how hard would forgiving the people who cheat be. There is no reason to elevate people to some special status for doing something wrong, but we get confused by the difference of doing right and confessing to doing something wrong. It doesn't make them bad people, it makes us the ones who need to fix our problems and get on with life.

Posted by Some sanity, please
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2011 at 12:28 am

To those of you who criticize the high school girl Katherine, who wrote this article, I would like to remind you that she does not _attempt_ to be objective or propose solutions to the immigration debate. Rather, she eloquently explains the her personal respect for Jose Antonio Vargas and the impact his visit to MVHS has had on her.

This article is not "syrupy, liberal propaganda" or an example of "brainwashing that goes on in MV public schools." It is not intended to persuade others to espouse certain beliefs, nor does it make false and/or unwarranted claims. It's an expository, not a persuasive piece. It is meant to inform readers of Katherine's personal experience regarding the topic of illegal immigration. I'm sure none of you can argue that it's un-American to consider others' points of view; that's the entire point of democracy.

And even if you have personal views on the issue of immigration, attacking the credibility of Katherine is unwarranted. She is in high school. If you have issues with the liberal position on illegal immigration, I suggest you take them up with Congress, rather than posting deriding anonymous comments on an article Katherine undoubtedly worked very hard on.

To Katherine: this was a wonderfully-written piece. It's great to know that MV is the home of such a well-known individual and that we as a community can celebrate him, even if some of us may disagree with his past actions and positions on certain issues.

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2011 at 8:12 am

There is no evidence in this article that the student has any grasp of what it means to be American, the rule of law, or issues surrounding illegal immigration.

It is hardly a wonderfully written piece. It is based on naive thinking. It does not address the many laws that Vargas broke in perpetuating his secret life. MV is not the home of Vargas. The Philippines is his home, and he should be prosecuted and deported. Believe it or not, Congress under the current administration has been deporting illegals at a higher rate than the previous one. Polls indicate repeatedly that Democrats more than Republicans are against amnesty and illegal immigration.

Posted by Matthew
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2011 at 10:53 am

I will assume that Jose Vargas reads this comments and ask him directly.Have you seen the comments on your articles? I have read through them and a vast majority of them are definitely asking for your immediate deportation .Why not do the right thing and do voluntary deportation already.This is not your country and you are definitely not American.You can try to convince yourself of that lie all you want .The lie that started from your parents and perfectly excecuted by the rest of your family and so called friends.You have done nothing but perefect your abilities to lie and cheat your way to an american society you do not belong in .

You ask "Define American', I ask you this "Define Illegal"

Have some morals and do the right thing and leave.The United States of America goes above and beyond to help LEGAL immigrants every year to live and prosper in their new home .You and your family have no shame in continuing to mock the tremendous hardship that LEGAL immigrants endure for the american dream.

You are an embarassment to yourself to your family and to your country the Philippines .

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Mr. Vargas is not Robin Hood, he's one of millions of illegal immigrants that are a huge problem for this country. If he had returned to the Philippines in 2002 when he first realized that he needed to, he could be legally moving here next year. But instead, he figured that immigration laws apply only to the uneducated, and that his ambition, intelligence and talent somehow put him above the law. I suppose Bernie Madoff and any number of other white collar criminals think the same thing.
The blame in Vargas' situation falls squarely on the shoulders of his parents and grandparents, who schemed to illegally send him to the US. And also on Vargas' shoulders as he did not rectify the situation. There's no hero in the story. There is no bravery. Vargas publicized his illegal status only because he was afraid of being caught. If he was brave, he would have taken action years ago to correct his illegal status.
Mr. Vargas does not change history. We know there are millions of illegal immigrants in this country. We know how they got here. We know how they go to school. We know how they get false documents. We know how they are able to work. They do not need a spokesperson, they do not want a spokesperson. They do not want to follow the procedures to become legal citizens.
If Mr. Vargas and others thinks that the ten years required to be outside the US after living here illegally before re-entering is too long, they should say so - instead of breaking the law and trying to excuse their actions through emotionaly pleas.
If Mr. Vargas feels that he found himself in this predicament through no fault of his own, he should pursue those that are responsible - his parents and his grandparents.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm


"Please stop going back to your noble grandparents who came to this country back when it was about a million times easier to do so"

I started my green-card process in 2003 and received it in 2008 - it's not that hard.

Rather than do a one-sided story on an illegal immigrant, it would be interesting to do a comparison of someone who followed the legal immigration path versus someone who immigrated illegally. I would be especially interested in knowing why someone (or their parents) would choose to take the illegal route versus the legal route. The only reason is that they do not believe they would be accepted legally. Then I would like to know that why they feel that a country that wouldn't accept them legally should accept them after they (or their parents) have willfully broken the laws of that country. Do they feel that they should be given the chance to prove themselves? There are already visas for that.

Given the attitude that "US immigration laws are unfair, I'll make up my own" - where does that stop? Tax laws? Property laws? Any non-violent offense?

Posted by mean people suck
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Thanks for your clear, bold, and correctly spelled article. I look forward to reading more from you in the future. Please don't take too hard a hit from negative comments.

I know so many 'legal American citizens' who graduated the same year as Vargas who do nothing for themselves, their community, or their nation. Privileged American kids flaunting their parent's and teacher's efforts to help them build productive happy lives. There is a great weakness and erosion in American society that has nothing to do with immigration at all. I wish all teens would get off the meth and take responsibility for using the amazing gifts they recieive.

I applaud students like you who respect their families and community and selves well enough to become great adults. Keep it up. It gets better. And I think your classmates may eventually get better too- after depleting family and community resources in rehab. Sadly I don't think they will wake up soon enough to protect their own or anyone else's future.

I'm tired of picking up after mean, lazy, and ignorant 'legal residents'.

p.s.I applaud the young soldiers innocent righteousness while deploring the ignorant leadership he's been working so hard for. I only wish he was here actually helping build our country instead of fueling bush fires with the wrong weapons in the wrong locations.

by a legal resident, foster parent, and school volunteer; Educated at Foothill, Harvard and Stanford

Posted by awesome article :)
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm

KATHERINE YOU ARE A AMAZING! Clearly there are a lot of people out there who love to bash on someone who is twice as talented and articulate as they are just because you're younger. It's sad that people of older generations like to discredit the younger generations because we are younger and maybe less experienced. BUT NEWSFLASH: gay marriage will become legal and illegal immigrants will gain rights in this country so to all those conservative, small-minded people out there, get a life. Keep voicing your opinions Katherine because you are our future...not these old idiots who get pleasure from criticizing your wonderful piece.

Posted by Chris A.
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2011 at 12:14 am

An interesting perspective, but political factors aside this article could use an edit or two. Dramatic words such as "scurry", "yearn", and "intimate" lose meaning when they are used twice every sentence. There is also some inconsistency in the structure of the repeating phrases. Use a comma, or a period, but don't mix and match.

Again, interesting perspective, but very bloated diction.

Good work.

Posted by Chris A.
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2011 at 12:20 am

@awesome article :)

It is obvious you are one of the author's classmates, probably a fellow journalist. You should probably understand that by using phrases such as "get a life," as a substitute for actual reasoning and failing to capitalize "I", you are representing your fellow classmate quite poorly. Please keep the trash talking out of an otherwise informed discussion.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 4, 2011 at 5:33 am

@awesome -

"old idiots who get pleasure from criticizing your wonderful piece"

The article is an "opinion" piece, and others having different opinions doesn't make them idiots.

"and illegal immigrants will gain rights in this country"

Understand that whatever rights are given to today's illegal immigrants, up to and including citizenship, future immigrants may decide that they deserve more than the law allows (as did Mr. Vargas). Perhaps to not pay taxes, to drive a car without a license or insurance, or perhaps to ignore parts of the constitution (as does Mr. Vargas).

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 4, 2011 at 5:40 am

@mean people suck

"I'm tired of picking up after mean, lazy, and ignorant 'legal residents'."

Interesting statement. If the average US legal resident was more mean, lazy and ignorant than those in other countries, wouldn't that make the US a less desireable place to live? Yet it is one of the most desireable countries in the world. How do you explain that? Clearly the kind, hardworking and educated residents more than compensate for the others.

Posted by B
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

@ mean people suck

Last time I checked, it's the illegals that throw litter on the ground. Their children run wild in street gangs and tag graffiti all over our neighborhoods. Just take a drive through their part of town and see for yourself. They steal shopping carts from the grocery stores and they all end up at apartment complexes (specifically @ Mt View Garden Apts). Another example how many of these illegals have no respect for our laws, businesses, and citizens. Mr. Vargas should be deported for violating our immigration policy!! You should be arrested for inciting others to do so!

Posted by Some sanity, please
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

@B (and others making similar claims)

Such stereotypes about illegal immigrants only serve to prove that you are miserably uneducated about the issue at hand. I would gladly support your crusade against undocumented immigrants if they all threw litter on the ground, joined gangs, and stole shopping carts. But the fact of the matter is, not all illegal immigrants—in fact, much fewer than you would imagine—cause mayhem to the degree you imply. Vargas himself proves you wrong, and there are millions of other hard-working, DREAM Act-eligible young illegal immigrants in this country who do not engage in such activities (Mandeep Chahal, who graduated from LAHS and is currently an honors pre-med student at UC Davis, is another example from our community). And not all individuals who join gangs etc. are illegal immigrants. Conflating the two issues (immigration and juvenile delinquency) will not solve either problem, and only serves to hinder progress on both. So please refrain from making claims that are neither confirmed by fact nor useful in this discussion.

Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 4, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I agree that vilifying illegal immigrants would be equally as unproductive as sugarcoating their innocence and helplessness in the state of affairs they find themselves in. Individual responsibility and maturity require people to conduct themselves in a way that does not ignore the society around them.

Crime shouldn't be the main reason we don't accept illegal immigrants, nor the lack of intelligence or even bad table manners. And on the flip side, a degree from Harvard or Yale, or success in journalism, shouldn't be the main reason we allow illegal immigrants to stay.

But of paramount of importance is the rule of law that is violated every time someone enters this country illegally, in front of those immigrants waiting in line.

Many would like to remind us that the blindfold that covers Lady Justice eyes symbolizes the equanimity that our system of laws provides it citizens, free of prejudice and bias. They forget that the balance she holds swings both ways; that bias in ANY form should be ignored.

If this issue is not seen with the rule of law from the start, there is no credible basis on which to find a reasonable solution that represents American justice.

Posted by DL
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 5, 2011 at 12:21 am

How many times did Vargas vote in a USA election? Does your vote count? "I get by with a little help from my friends..." Thats how you erase a vote. YOUR vote does not count. It is Vargas and "Millions like him" who erase your vote.

Posted by DL
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 5, 2011 at 1:23 am

Web Link
A real tradition

Posted by SH
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Comments like these are exactly why Jose Vargas is launching his campaign, "Define American." Many readers/commenters have said that they refused to read the article or consider Pantangco's point of view because "illegal immigration is illegal immigration."

It's so incredibly easy to block out what she and Vargas are actually trying to say by just saying "it's illegal immigration." And it is. But it's a cracked system that we, as citizens, must evaluate-- and evaluation won't begin until we take the time, however painful it may be to some readers, to thoroughly examine it.

The point of Define American is to have a real conversation about illegal immigration. In our day and age and especially this town, we label "aliens" as those "illegals that throw litter on the ground. Their children run wild in street gangs and tag graffiti all over our neighborhoods".

Just yesterday, my father, a legal resident, threw something on the ground. My cousin is part of a gang. We're legal. But by your definitions, we're illegal. And let me tell you this- undocumented residents are not all Mexican or Hispanic, as many comments imply- many of them are European and Asian. Complicates it a bit, doesn't it, when illegal residents start to seem a little bit too relatable to you.

Before I get too off topic, I do want to note that (too) many of the comments are attacking Pantangco's character. Too many comments are nastily implying that Pantangco's admiration stems from the physical, rather than from Vargas' character, and many comments also remark that based on Pantangco's commentary, we should crown Vargas king. That's not the point.

I've read this article many times, and there are some points I disagree with. But the overwhelming focus of this article was that meeting Vargas and hearing his story was an incredible experience for this student. At one point, Pantangco said that Vargas made "he's made illegal immigration so real, so relevant."

The point is that she, as a student and journalist, was given a human face to this broad topic that many residents choose to brush aside in discomfort. She was able to connect and better understand this current event.

She is not a poster child for MVHS students, and she's not a broad representation of a leftist class.

She's an example of student who finally, after 12 years of learning, found something that she could connect to. I think it's very important that students nowadays are connected to these current events. If our youth is not connected, who can we hand the responsibility of the future to?

My only question is- would these comments be any different if she had written this about a soldier with PTSD, who connected with her about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, also a controversial current event? Or if she had written this about a gay man who had no right to marry?

Of course, my opinion isn't perfect-but I think any opinion is worth noting- especially Pantangco's. I look forward to hearing your opinion, and hope that we can have civil discussion about this, instead of the rampant anger that I'm reading now.

Posted by sid
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm

"She's an example of student who finally, after 12 years of learning, found something that she could connect to."

Maybe they need to investigate what is-or is not- being taught at the high schools if this is the case...

Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm


I agree that its long overdue for America to have a deep, insightful , intelligent discussion concerning illegal immigration, and what to do with the illegal immigrants already residing here, and preventing further illegal immigration that respects the rule of law, and respects people.

But that is the problem with Mr. Vargas' "Define American" movement: It ignores the rule of law while focusing solely on the rights of illegal immigrants. And it doesn't address the rights of citizens or legal immigrants. He likens the current illegal immigration issue to the Civil Rights and Black Slavery history of this country, while ignoring fundamental differences between these issues. There is nothing compulsory about bypassing federal law and entering the country illegally.

"Define American" is a non-starter for bridging the gap between the opposing viewpoints in this argument, because it seeks to recast the issue to favor a particular agenda, as opposed to providing equal weight to valid concerns that many people have about the consequences and affects of allowing illegal immigration.

Posted by SH
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm


That's a very valid point you bring up. It's extremely true that illegal immigration is not the same as the Civil Rights and slavery history, and there are many differences. However, I think his point is that things need to change, and we need to face this issue.

You raised a concern with "Define American" that is also valid. It is a concern that they won't incorporate equally other people's opinions. But I do think that if the point of the organization is to have an insightful discussion about illegal immigration, they have to listen to everyone's point of view (as idealistic as that sounds).

If anything, I do think that illegal immigration system needs to be thoroughly evaluated, because obviously it's not working.

Posted by someone
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm

@ Sid

Often times, today's youth find it difficult to make connections with things they learn out of textbooks with their life. However, this doesn't change the fact that they DO learn a multitude of life long lessons. Pantangco's story fused her pride from being an MVHS student and her perspective on illegal immigration. She was able to connect lessons about immigration to a face who graduated 11 years ago from the same high school she will graduate from next year.

Posted by Spaghetti Freddie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

To those of you here attempting to defend the author on the basis of her youth or status as a student: this is a publicly circulated newspaper sold to adults for informational purposes, not a childs activity book. It is not acceptable to expect exceptions to be made in this format, the content of the publication needs to stand on its own merit. The editor of the Voice chose to solicit and print this article. It is his responsibility to ensure appropriate content written by qualified authors, which I would say he probably failed to do here, but that is his perogative and he must take responsibility for publication and its effects. If the author is ill suited to the realities of life in the adult community, adults should not place her there. Using children to further agendas is not a legitimate tactic. The author will undoubtedly use the fact that she is published to benefit herself, namely in the college application process, and therefore needs to suffer the criticism that legitimizes that position. Sorry, no benefit can be accrued without putting in the time to earn it. Ask anyone that has ever worked in a factory, never not once has a car built itself.

Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm

"Using children to further agendas is not a legitimate tactic."

Well said Spaghetti Freddie. Very well said.

It's also, ironically, the very same tactic illegals resort to when they smuggle minors into the country or arrive pregnant or only to get pregnant.

Posted by Sally
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:03 am

The U.S. employment picture went from bad to ugly last month as employers added almost no new net jobs and the unemployment rate edged up for the third straight month, to 9.2% and will raise fresh questions about the sustainability of the recovery, now technically starting its third year.

Vargas needs to be deported along with all the other illegals. Give his job to and unemployed citizen. The standards for journalism aren't that high anyway.

Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:12 am


"The U.S. employment picture went from bad to ugly last month as employers added almost no new net jobs and the unemployment rate edged up for the third straight month, to 9.2% and will raise fresh questions about the sustainability of the recovery, now technically starting its third year.

Vargas needs to be deported along with all the other illegals. Give his job to and unemployed citizen. The standards for journalism aren't that high anyway."


I understand your point here, but I don't think your suggestion would solve anything for a couple of reasons:

In order for the jobs problem to be corrected, you need a couple of things: Companies that are offering jobs, qualified candidates, people willing to work, and the public willing to spend money on products and services.


1. Of the jobs that illegal immigrants perform in this country, how many of them are jobs that Americans would be WILLING to perform at the current wage levels?

2. Of the jobs that illegal immigrants perform in this country, how many of them are jobs that Americans are QUALIFIED to perform, at the current wage levels? Bear in mind, being overqualified is just as bad as being underqualified, since overqualified employees tend not to be long term employees.

3. If wage levels were increased to alleviate the problems posed in questions #1 and #2, how many jobs would be eliminated by companies because of cost control?

4. If wage levels were increased, and companies still offered the same number of jobs, will the public continue to buy goods and services when prices go up?

As you can see, its really not as simple as you make it out to be.

Posted by Sally
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Vargas is occupying the job of a US citizen. Cut it up anyway you like it, but the economy would work its way around the absence of illegals, maybe by allowing the entry of legal immigrants or temporary workers.

Posted by Some sanity, please
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Sally, your suggestions don't make any sense. The economy is dependent on the labor of illegal immigrants in the /long term/, so temporary workers wouldn't solve the issue because they would functionally be permanent workers. Who would still be filling "American jobs."

And if you're so worried about "the illegals" taking "American citizens' jobs", why would it make sense to grant more people citizenship and increase the size of the labor market? Why not just let those who are already working stay, rather than deporting them and then allowing a whole other group to enter the US? That wouldn't solve any of your problems either.

And I would much rather have Vargas, a /Pulitzer Prize/-winning journalist, continue to contribute to the country than replacing a talented individual simply because he occupies "someone else's job." No one is more deserving of a job simply because they are a citizen. It's pretty obvious that the economy is based on skill rather than entitlement.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

The amount of hypocrisy in these comments is unbearably painful.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Mountain View Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Bike lanes don’t belong on El Camino!
By Diana Diamond | 31 comments | 6,965 views

Houjicha lattes and mango matcha: Kaizen and Coffee brings specialty coffee to San Mateo
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,176 views

How quickly will we electrify our homes?
By Sherry Listgarten | 5 comments | 1,454 views

Everything Falls – Lessons in Souffle
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 926 views