Warning: Those consistently conscious of political correctness are probably not going to like this post.
I read the story of journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outing himself as an “undocumented” immigrant with mixed emotions.
I tried to imagine what his life has been like living in America as an illegal immigrant and the circumstances which must have forced his family to seek better life in America. My feelings of any sympathy, however, were quickly overcome by resentment. On the surface, Vargas is not unlike any other illegal immigrant living in America today, ducking respect for our nation’s laws in order to pursue personal ambitions.
He may have a Pulitzer, but that doesn’t change the fact that the law has been ignored. Going on television to flaunt the fact he knowingly dodged the law, ostensibly lied to his employers, committed identity fraud, etc. did little to assuage my resentment having come from a family who came to America by knocking on the front door, not sneaking in the back.
I was even more offended on a professional level. There’s little I despise more than when “journalists” use their position to a) drive a story and/or b) insert themselves into the story or try to make the story all about them. Not only is Vargas using his public soapbox to draw attention to his own plight, he’s using it to push a political agenda.
While Vargas may be an illegal immigrant, it is professionally irresponsible for him to portray himself as THE story of illegal immigration in America.
(Also, doesn’t this mean the Huffington Post, the Washington Post and all Vargas’ prior employers were in violation of the law? He speaks about his own personal “underground railroad” — people who knowingly helped him to break the law. Are these people not guilty aiding and abetting a fugitive?)
Perhaps Vargas saw the writing on the wall — Americans certainly have sympathy for our international neighbors striving for a better life, but we also have a healthy respect for doing things the right way, the legal way.
But by going public with his plight, he undoubtedly knows political allies will work to shield him from accountability in this case, not unlike former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s woefully illegally employed housemaid — what ever happened to her? (Hint: She wasn’t deported)
Or what about President Obama’s own aunt who was found to be illegally living in Boston’s public housing while her nephew ran for office? She refused deportation and her claims for asylum were denied in the past, but she’s still living in the U.S. today and complaining that “the system” took advantage of her.
Similarly, Vargas complains that he didn’t know he was an illegal immigrant until he was 16 and therefore couldn’t be held responsible. So who is responsible? Has America wronged Vargas and now owes him citizenship, or did his family — the people who decided to keep his actual immigration status from him and set him up for this inevitable legal battle?
While my heart breaks for Vargas who is clearly a smart, hard-working guy, Justice wears a blindfold for a reason. The law is the law and we as a country need to decide if we still have the cojones to enforce it.
Update: Bryan Preston has more thoughts here