Jose Antonio Vargas Has a Dream

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Jose Antonio Vargas reflects on the meaning of Martin Luther KingJr’s famous speech 50 years ago, connecting it to the civil rights struggles of African Americans and to the dreams of undocumented immigrants today. For him and thousands like him “Immigrant rights are civil rights. The struggle continues. The dreams -- and DREAMers -- live on.”

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Founder of Define American. He was sent to the United States as a child from the Philippines when he was only 12-years-old and learned about his undocumented status when he tried to get his driver's license at the age of 16. Having lived and worked in the US for 20 years, he considers the United States his home.

Vargas became an immigration reform activist after openly writing about his undocumented status in 2011 New York Times Magazine essay.

Here is an excerpt from his blog, published by kind permission of Define American. He describes his dreams today.

'I Have A Dream': An Undocumented Immigrant Version, 28 August 2013 | Jose Antonio Vargas

Surely all Americans are thinking of Dr. King's 1,670-word speech today, and creating their own versions. As one of our country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants -- many of us Americans in all but paper -- here is mine.


"I have a dream"... of citizenship, in a country I call my home, to a nation I want to keep contributing to.

"I have a dream"... of having a driver's license, of getting a work permit, of not being constrained by a broken immigration system.

"I have a dream"...of not being separated from my family and hugging my Mama, whom I haven't seen in person in 20 years. I cannot leave the U.S; there's no guarantee I'd be allowed back, and she's been denied a visa to come here.

"I have a dream"... of not being judged by the pieces of papers I lack, but by the content of my character and the talent and skills I offer.

"I have a dream"... of not living in fear, of not hiding in shame, of not being subjected by the law but being served by justice.

"I have a dream"... of being a free human being.


Visit KQED Resources for ESL Educators on Immigration 

'I HAVE A DREAM': AN UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT VERSION, Define American, 28 August 2013 | Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas on Forum, Jul 12, 2011

Watch Jose Antonio Vargas Testimony on Comprehensive Immigration Reform from PBS NewsHour, Feb 13, 2013.

Image above: Jose Antonio Vargas (C) sits behind Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (R) as she testifies about the DREAM Act June 28, 2011 in Washington,D.C.