Exactly a month ago, Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, unmasked himself as an undocumented immigrant in a New York Times Magazine essay. Last time we checked in with Vargas, the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association told us he had taken a "huge risk coming forward" and could potentially be deported. While that hasn't happened, a number of debates and interviews involving the journalist have. Most recently, on Thursday, the state of Washington cancelled his driver's license, The Seattle Times reported. The state's Department of Licensing launched an investigation when he outed himself last month and gave him 20 days to prove his state residency. When the request letter was returned unopened, they canceled his license. Here's what Vargas has been up to since his story came out:
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June 22: His story hits newsstands On June 22, The New York Times Magazine publishes his sweeping piece, "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant" starting with his birth in the Philippines, moving to the States and discovering he is undocumented at the age of 16 when he tried to obtain a driver's license. The story makes a big splash and launches a discussion about illegal immigration and the media ethics surrounding the publication of an undocumented immigrant's work.
June 24: He appears on NPR Soon after his story came out, he gave an interview with NPR's Michele Norris. At that point, Norris asked if he was still a journalist or an advocate. He remained steadfast, saying he still thinks of himself as a journalist "it's my church," he said. Norris also referenced a caller, who claimed to be an undocumented immigrant, who was worried that this issue would just become about Vargas and not undocumented immigration. To that, he responded. “She totally has a point, and this is totally about her. This much I promise you: As I move forward with this, I will certainly make sure that this does not just become the Jose Antonio Vargas show. The media’s going to try to do that, for the next few days and weeks. But as long as I’m doing this, I’m going to make sure this is not just about me."
Late June: Washington Post comes under scrutiny After the sizzling story of Vargas's life came out, a number of media observers were surprised the Post hadn't published it themselves. At the same time, others leveled criticism at Vargas's Post confidante Peter Perl who was at the time, director of newsroom training and professional development, and knew that Vargas could not legally be employed by the paper. "This means that the Post violated 8 USC 1324a," wrote the National Review, "which says, in part: (2) Continuing employment It is unlawful for a person or other entity, after hiring an alien for employment in accordance with paragraph (1), to continue to employ the alien in the United States knowing the alien is (or has become) an unauthorized alien with respect to such employment." Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton explained Perl's thought process as such: