Jose Antonio VargasJounalist; Filmmaker; Immigration Activist; Recipient, 2008 Pulitzer Prize for The Washington Post team reporting of Virginia Tech shootings

Define American


Jose Antonio Vargas was born in the Phillippines in 1981. From the age of 12, he was raised in the United States where he lived with his grandparents in Mountain View, California. Vargas attended Crittendon Middle School and graduated from Mountain View High School and San Francisco State University.

 In 2008, Jose Antonio Vargas was part of The Washington Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking New Reporting for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, both online and in print, Vargas has also worked for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Daily News, and The Huffington Post.

 In a June 2011 essay in The New York Times Magazine, Vargas revealed his status as an “undocumented immigrant” in an effort to promote dialogue about the immigration system in the United States. It was also a way to advocate for the DREAM Act, which would help children in similar circumstances have a path to citizenship. A year later, a day after publication of his Time Magazine cover story about his continued uncertainty regarding his status, the Obama administration announced its halt to the deportation of undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were eligible for the DREAM Act. Because of his age, Vargas himself does not qualify.

 Vargas is the founder of “Define American”, a non-profit organization intended to open up a dialogue about the criteria people use to determine who is an American. About himself, he says, “ I am an American. I just don’t have the right papers.”