Activist Jose Antonio Vargas: Our Immigration Woes Didn't Start with Trump

September 19, 2018

By Christian Smith

President Trump often receives the blame for ongoing immigration issues in the U.S., but the the full responsibility is shared by all presidents ー both Republican and Democrat ー since the Reagan era, said activist and author Jose Antonio Vargas.

"This has been a bipartisan mess that both parties have been a part of," he said Wednesday in an interview on Cheddar.

But Vargas said that fact hardly exculpates the sitting president. Quite the opposite.

"Trump is the manifestation of all of these policies that have not just been unjust, but ineffective and in many ways insensible," he said.

Vargas is arguably one of the most famous undocumented immigrants in the United States. His story of emigrating from the Philippines at the age of 12 went viral after the New York Times Magazine published his "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant" piece in 2011.

Now Vargas is taking an even closer look at what it means to be undocumented and living in America in his new book, "Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen," which is dedicated to the over 250 million migrants around the world.

"I wanted to write a book about what citizenship means at a time when there are more people than ever in the history of the world migrating," he said.

"Dear America" focuses on what Vargas says are the three main components of living in the country without legal documentation ー lying, passing, and hiding ー which he believes are universal experiences for everyone, documented or not.

"You don't have to be undocumented to relate to those things," he said. "All of us in many ways live through phases where we have to lie, we have to pass, and we have to hide."

"Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen" is available in stores and online.

For full interview click here.