“Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” By Jose Antonio Vargas. Dey Street Books, New York City, 2018. $25.99.
Pulitzer Prize-winning announcer Jose Antonio Vargas has been active as an undocumented aborigine of the United States aback 1993 aback he was 12-years-old. With the best of intentions, his mother put him on a even from the Philippines to California. But with that adventure came four adverse lies — an uncle who was absolutely a coyote, a affected authorization and a affected blooming card. The fourth bamboozlement — that his mother would bound chase — was added about outsized achievement than advised prevarication. She has never been acceptable access to the United States and Vargas, at the age of 15, stumbled aloft the accuracy of his cachet at the Department of Motor Vehicles. A agent looked at his blooming agenda and banned his appeal for a driver’s permit.
“This is fake,” she said. “Don’t appear aback actuality again.” And, thus, began an exhausting, afraid activity of lying, casual and hiding.
Now, 25 years later, Vargas writes in his new memoir, “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,” that he’s trapped. He’s “stuck” in a affliction area he can’t vote, authority a job, travel, drive, own a home. He can and does pay taxes and Social Security. Undocumented immigrants pay about $12 billion annually into the Social Security Trust Fund.
“Dear America” advance the capacity of Vargas’s adventure from his home in Manila to the present day, forth with the accompanying affecting roller coaster ride. He withheld the accuracy of his cachet to appear academy and to booty a journalism internship at the Washington Post that launched his career as a journalist. It’s bright that this limbo was foisted on him by his well-meaning mother and her parents, who took acceptable affliction of him already he accustomed in Mountain View, California. His grandfather, a aborigine U.S. citizen, paid $500 for the counterfeit affidavit that he kept in a book cabinet. “You are not declared to be here,” he accepted to Vargas afterwards the adventure at the DMV.
“This book is about homelessness,” writes Vargas, who now lives out of a attache with no abiding address. His adventure — admitting the affection of his life, the opportunities that accept been afforded him because of his drive, talent, education, career in journalism, admiring ancestors and accompany in positions of access — is heartbreaking. Vargas bare to out himself afresh (the aboriginal time was aback he told his adolescent aerial academy classmates that he was gay) in adjustment to put an end to the ambidexterity that was disturbing him apart.
He writes that best Americans apperceive actual little about clearing in this country. Among our misunderstandings is the acceptance that there is recourse for bodies like Vargas. There is no aisle to citizenship for him. He does not authorize for the DACA affairs because of his age and he cannot administer for citizenship because he aria to get a driver’s license. His maddening bind is representative, in a aggregation of ways, of the 11 actor undocumented bodies active in the United States. Generally the alone options for them are either displacement or ambuscade and passing. During the Obama presidency, as abounding as 400,000 immigrants were abandoned annually. The numbers accept developed aback Trump took office.
Immigration, writes Vargas, became conflated with agitation on Sept. 11, 2001. Aback then, the U.S. government has spent $100 billion on bound and clearing control. Best of what Congress and the admiral accept done to abode clearing accept been costly, castigating and abounding with grief.
“Too often, we’re advised as abstractions, faceless and nameless, capacity of agitation rather than individuals with families, hopes, fears and dreams,” writes Vargas. Worse, he writes, the accepted administering has fanned the flames, conflating “undocumented immigrants with agitated MS-13 assemblage members, apropos to us as ‘animal’ and ‘snakes,’ generally in advanced of bouncy crowds roaring with approval.”
The rancorous, aggressive accent terrorizes immigrants. The acting administrator of ICE told Congress, “If you are in this country illegally, and you committed a abomination by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should attending over your shoulder, and you charge to be worried.”
“I anguish about everything,” says Vargas, whose cachet these canicule is tenuous. The Department of Homeland Security served him what’s alleged a charging certificate afterwards a contempo apprehension in Texas. With this step, clearing cloister could activate a abatement proceeding.
As Anthony Bourdain acicular out in an adventure of “Parts Unknown,” 1 in 10 association of Los Angeles is undocumented. He credibility out that immigrants are the courage of the burghal — the planters and harvesters, the accommodation and healthcare workers, the new and active aesthetic and ambitious energy. Like Bourdain, Vargas foolishly capacity the problems with immigration. Fair and accommodating solutions, so badly bare appropriate now, are far from apparent.— Rae Padilla Francoeur can be accomplished at [email protected]
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