Pulitzer-prize winning journalist comes out as illegal immigrant

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Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas reveals in The New York Times Magazine that he's lived in the United States for nearly 20 years as an illegal immigrant.

Vargas writes that his Filipino mother sent him to live with his grandparents--who were legally living in the Bay Area--when he was only 12 years old. He was placed on a plane with a man who he was told was his uncle--in actuality, a "coyote," ie., a person who helps marshal illegal immigrants across the U.S. border--and has never seen his mother since.

When he was 16, Vargas writes, he applied for a driver's license and discovered that his green card was fake. He spent the next 15 years hiding his secret from friends, classmates, and employers, hoping that some form of immigration reform would pass in the meantime and allow him to live openly in the country.

"This deceit never got easier," he writes. "The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way."

Now, Vargas is starting a campaign called Define American, where he's spotlighting immigrants' stories.

You can read the whole story here, and watch him talk about his experiences in the video below.

(Screenshot: Vargas)