kottke.org posts about Michael Hastings

Interview with Jose Antonio Vargas

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 13, 2012

It’s been more than a year since the NY Times Magazine published Jose Antonio Vargas’ My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant to much fanfare.

But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.

Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings just published an extensive update on Vargas about what has happened to him since the publication of that piece.

In the aftermath of the bombshell piece, Washington State revoked his driver’s license. An online petition popped up, demanding he be deported, and he received threats. He also received a torrent of scathing criticism from his peers in journalism, questioning his character and his motives. Some at the Washington Post, which had originally killed the story, began a whisper campaign against him, suggesting he couldn’t be trusted. He lost a number of friends and colleagues, including some he’d looked up to and admired.

Although Vargas has written about his experience as an undocumented worker, he’s been reluctant to publicly talk about the impact his decision had on his place in the media world, the fallout from his controversial move, and how he’d been treated by fellow members of the press. In an extensive interview with BuzzFeed, he agreed to open up about these issues for the first time-from the surprising support from high profile fans like Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and yes, Aaron Sorkin-to what his friends say he viewed as a betrayal from the Washington Post, a newspaper that he called his home for five years.