Bob Graham Center to host award-winning journalist, immigration advocate
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An award-winning multimedia journalist and founder of Define America — a new campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration — will speak at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida’s Pugh Hall at 6 p.m. Jan. 30.
In June 2011, Jose Antonio Vargas triggered a national debate when he revealed himself as an “undocumented immigrant” in a lengthy New York Times Magazine piece. In 1993, when Vargas was just 12, his mother put him on a plane to the United States from his native Philippines because she wanted a better life for him. Like millions of other undocumented residents in the United States, Vargas had no choice in his status because he was brought here as a child by adults.
“Before I could explore the nature of global citizenry, I had to first come to grips with my reality in a country that I’ve called my home,” Vargas explained. “Though I consider myself an American at heart, I am not an American on paper. And I’m just one person and mine is merely one story — one of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants whose lives are interwoven and integrated with those of American citizens. We are here. We are part of you.”
Most recently, Vargas has been at the forefront of campaigning for the Dream Act, a nearly decade-old immigration bill that would provide a path to legal permanent residency for young people who have been educated in this country. The Obama administration has deported nearly 800,000 people in the last two years. At the risk of deportation, Vargas continues to speak out along with several other young, undocumented Americans.
Vargas has been a journalist for more than a decade, writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country. He ws a senior contributing editor at the Huffington Post, where he launched the technology and college sections. Prior to that, Vargas covered tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS, and the 2008 presidential campaign for the Washington Post. He was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.
In 2007, the daily journal Politico named him one of the 50 Politicos to Watch. On HuffPost, he created the blog Technology as Anthropology, which focuses on technology’s impact on people’s behavior. Vargas has taught a class on “Storytelling 2.0″ at Georgetown University and served on the advisory board for the Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, housed at American University.
- Shelby Taylor, 352-273-1086