Vargas’s mother sent him from the Philippines to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, CA when he was 12 years old. He didn’t realize he was undocumented until, at 16, he went to get his driver’s permit and was denied. He eventually got a valid driver’s license from the state of Oregon — the final barrier to being hired by The Washington Post. A year after joining the Post, in a 2006 interview with FishbowlDC, Vargas talked about owning just one suit, given to him by his high school principal whom he calls his “adoptive mom.” Vargas was a part of the WaPo team that won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.
Vargas knows he could be deported, but is speaking out now to fight for the DREAM Act which was reintroduced in the Senate last month. Vargas has co-founded the group DefineAmerican which is pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.