My Life as an immigrant that is undocumentedby JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS JUNE 22, 2011

Confused and scared, I pedaled home and confronted Lolo. I remember him sitting within the garage, cutting coupons. I dropped my bike and ran up to him, showing him the card that is green. “Peke ba ito?” I asked in Tagalog. (“Is this fake?”) My grandparents were naturalized American citizens as a food server — and they had begun supporting my mother and me financially when I was 3, after my father’s wandering eye and inability to properly provide for us led to my parents’ separation— he worked as a security guard, she. Lolo was a proud man, and I saw the shame on his face while he told me he purchased the card, and also other fake documents, for me personally. “Don’t show it to many other people,” he warned.

I made a decision then that i really could never give anyone reason to doubt I became an American. I convinced myself that when I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship if I worked enough. I felt I could earn it.

I’ve tried. Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing several of the most highly successful people in the nation. At first glance, I’ve created a life that is good. I’ve lived the American dream.

But i will be still an immigrant that is undocumented. And that means living a kind that is different of. This means going about my day in concern with being found out. It means people that are rarely trusting even those closest in my experience, with who i truly am. It indicates keeping my children photos in a shoebox as opposed to displaying them on shelves in my house, so friends don’t ask about them. This means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I’m sure are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant depending on sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, those who took a pursuit in my own future and took risks for me.

The debates over “illegal aliens” intensified my anxieties. In 1994, only a year after my flight from the Philippines, Gov.

was re-elected to some extent as a result of his support for Proposition 187, which prohibited undocumented immigrants from attending school that is public accessing other services. (a court that is federal found the law unconstitutional.) After my encounter at the D.M.V. in 1997, I grew more conscious of anti-immigrant sentiments and stereotypes: they don’t would you like to assimilate, they’ve been a drain on society. They’re not talking I would tell myself about me. I have something to contribute.

But soon Lolo grew nervous that the immigration authorities reviewing the petition would discover my mother was married, thus derailing not merely her chances of coming here but those of my uncle as well. So he withdrew her petition. After my uncle came to America legally in 1991, Lolo tried to here get my mother through a tourist visa, but she wasn’t in a position to obtain one. That’s when she decided to send me. My mother told me later that she figured she would follow me soon. She never did.

The “uncle” who brought me here ended up being a coyote, not a relative, my grandfather later explained. Lolo scraped together enough money — I eventually learned it had been $4,500, a giant sum him to smuggle me here under a fake name and fake passport for him— to pay. (I never saw the passport again following the flight and now have always assumed that the coyote kept it.) This time, adorned with a fake student visa, in addition to the fraudulent green card after i arrived in America, Lolo obtained a new fake Filipino passport, in my real name.

Whenever I began looking for work, a short while following the D.M.V. incident, my grandfather and I also took the Social Security card to Kinko’s, where he covered the “I.N.S. authorization” text with a sliver of white tape. We then made photocopies associated with the card. At a glance, at least, the copies would look like copies of a regular, unrestricted Social Security card.

Lolo always imagined I would work the types of low-paying jobs that undocumented people often take. (Once I married an American, he said, I would personally get my real papers, and everything could be fine.) But even menial jobs require documents, so he and I also hoped the doctored card would work for now. The more documents I experienced, he said, the higher.

For over 10 years of having part-time and full-time jobs, employers have rarely asked to check on my Social Security that is original card. Once they did, I showed the photocopied version, that they accepted. With time, I also began checking the citizenship box to my federal I-9 employment eligibility forms. (Claiming full citizenship was actually easier than declaring permanent resident “green card” status, which will have required me to provide an alien registration number.)

This deceit never got easier. The greater amount of it was done by me, the greater amount of I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — in addition to more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept carrying it out. I had a need to live and survive by myself, and I also decided it was the way in which.

Mountain View High School became my second home. I was elected to represent my school at school-board meetings, which provided me with the chance to meet and befriend Rich Fischer, the superintendent for the school district. I joined the speech and debate team, acted in school plays and in the end became co-editor for the Oracle, the student newspaper. That drew the interest of my principal, Pat Hyland. “You’re in school just as much as i will be,” she told me. Pat and Rich would soon become mentors, and in the long run, almost surrogate parents in my situation.

Later that school year, my history > Harvey Milk

I hadn’t planned on being released that morning, that I was gay for several years though I had known. With this announcement, I became really the only student that is openly gay school, and it caused turmoil with my grandparents. Lolo kicked me out of our home for a few weeks. On two fronts though we eventually reconciled, I had disappointed him. First, as a Catholic, he considered homosexuality a sin and was embarrassed about having “ang apo na bakla” (“a grandson who is gay”). Even worse, I happened to be making matters more difficult for myself, he said. I needed seriously to marry an American woman so that you can gain a green card.

Tough as it was, being released about being gay seemed less daunting than being released about my legal status. I kept my other secret mostly hidden.

While my classmates awaited their college acceptance letters, I hoped to have a job that is full-time The Mountain View Voice after graduation. It’s not that I didn’t like to head to college, but I couldn’t apply for state and federal educational funding. Without that, my children couldn’t afford to send me.

But when I finally told Pat and Rich about my immigration “problem” — from then on — they helped me look for a solution as we called it. At first, they even wondered if a person of these could adopt me and fix the problem in that way, but an attorney Rich consulted told him it couldn’t change my legal status because I was too old. Eventually they connected us to a new scholarship fund for high-potential students who were usually the first in their families to go to college. Most crucial, the fund was not focused on immigration status. I was among the first recipients, with the scholarship covering tuition, lodging, books as well as other expenses for my studies at san francisco bay area State University.

. Using those articles, I placed on The Seattle Times and got an internship for the summer that is following.

But then my lack of proper documents became a nagging problem again. The Times’s recruiter, Pat Foote, asked all incoming interns to carry paperwork that is certain their first day: a birth certificate, or a passport, or a driver’s license plus a genuine Social Security card. I panicked, thinking my documents wouldn’t pass muster. So before starting the job, I called Pat and shared with her about my legal status. After talking to management, I was called by her back using the answer I feared: i really couldn’t do the internship.

This was devastating. What good was college then pursue the career I wanted if i couldn’t? I made the decision then that if I became to succeed in a profession this is certainly all about truth-telling, i really couldn’t tell the reality about myself.

The venture capitalist who sponsored my scholarship, offered to pay for an immigration lawyer after this episode, Jim Strand. Rich and I also went to meet her in San Francisco’s financial district.