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Pulitzer-prize winner to speak on immigration

In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas disclosed his status as an undocumented immigrant in a written admission in the New York Times.

Tonight, Vargas will advocate for immigration reform, talking to students and the greater Tampa Bay community in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater at 7 p.m.

The lecture is free and open to the public as part of the College of Arts and Sciences Frontier Forum lecture series.

Following the Virginia Tech shooting, Vargas was a part of The Washington Post team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the massacre. 

Three years later, Vargas used his voice as an esteemed journalist to open dialogue about the immigration system in
the U.S.

He moved from the Philippines to the U.S. in 1993, at the age of 12. His uncle brought him into the country using a fake name and

He lived with his grandparents, both U.S. citizens, and remained unaware that he was in the country illegally until the age of 16 when he tried to apply for a driver’s license and was turned away.

An advocate for immigrant children, Vargas hopes to fight for their right to citizenship. He founded Define American, a non-profit organization that promotes awareness of the immigration measures used to determine American civilian status. 

He is also a proponent of the DREAM Act that, if passed, would provide immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors, attended U.S. high schools and maintained residency for at least five years with conditional permanent residency.

Inspired by the events surrounding his experience as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., Vargas created the film “Documented” in 2013. The film chronicles both his struggles and those of other undocumented immigrants in their pursuit of legal status. 

Flying out of a Texas airport near the Mexican border in July of last year, immigration authorities arrested and questioned Vargas. At the time of the arrest, Vargas had lived in the U.S. for 21 years.

“Our daily lives are filled with fear in simple acts such as
getting on an airplane to go home to our family,” he said in a statement following the events. 

In his lecture, Vargas will talk about his film, analyze the definition of American and describe his work in the immigration reform movement.