Gay Journalist and Immigration Activist Jose Antonio Vargas Detained by Border Patrol in Texas

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Jose Antonio Vargas, the openly gay Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who came out as an “undocumented immigrant” in a high-profile piece in the New York Times back in June 2011, was detained earlier this morning by U.S. Boarder Patrol agents in McAllen, Texas.

The Washington Post reports:

Jose Antonio VargasDefine American, the nonprofit U.S. immigration-reform campaign founded by Vargas, announced the detainment. In a statement Tuesday, Define American campaign director Ryan Eller said: “This morning, Mr. Vargas attempted to board a plane to Los Angeles, where we are scheduled to screen our film ‘Documented.’ Mr. Vargas did not make it through security at the airport. Our understanding is that he is currently being questioned by border patrol. The community leaders standing with me work with constituents and live this reality each and every day.”

Eller called on President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “to exercise prosecutorial discretion and immediately release Jose Antonio Vargas from Customs and Border Protection custody.”

White House and U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesmen declined to discuss the detention further however. 

The Post adds:

Last week, shortly after his film, “Documented,” aired for the first time on CNN, Vargas wrote in a Politico magazine piece that he’d gone to the U.S.-Mexico border “to visit a shelter for unaccompanied Central American refugees and participate in a vigil in their honor.” He wrote: “I realize that, for an undocumented immigrant like me, getting out of a border town in Texas — by plane or by land — won’t be easy. It might, in fact, be impossible.”

Vargas was held for 8 hours, according to the Washington Post. He was ordered to appear before an immigration judge.

[photo via Twitter]


  1. Chlorogoth says


    What country are we sending you to? Unless you are Native American, then go back to your own country, leave everything you have stolen from Americans, and when you are in your real native land you can thank your criminal ancestors for it. You don’t deserve to be here any more than Vargas, so get the hell out.


  2. RWG says

    What “Truther” suggests we do is exactly what Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and the Nazis did: blame children for the transgressions of their parents. We are a better country than that. We even let heartless, psychopathic racists like “Truther” walk around free without their medications.

  3. NewAmsterdam says

    As an immigrant, I certainly identify with some of the challenges of “assimilation” identified by Mr. Vargas in his 2011 NYT Magazine article whereby he “outed” himself as an undocumented alien. However, my sympathy goes no further. Indeed, let’s leave aside all other laws broken as a result of all the forged papers and lying on official documents for a second, how is it possible that US ICE has NOT managed to detain and deport Mr. Vargas in the intervening three years? Is it because of his “visibility,” which one can argue he’s flaunting in the face of ineffectual law enforcement? If so, and especially so, I cannot support the notion that his case is any different from other paperless immigrants who dream the American dream and work equally hard. Until the system is reformed and new laws are passed, all existing rules must be applied to all equally in order to gain any legitimacy and stem further illegal flows of aliens. Otherwise, everyone will play the odds as if they were in Vegas. Mr. Vargas’s celebrity status is no shield; deport him.

  4. Terry says

    Deport him. Being gay and being a journalist doesn’t give an illegal alien a free pass. All deportees should lose any chance of ever entering the country legally based on their previous illegal activity. My grandfather came legally and was processed at Ellis Island. There were immigration laws then and they were enforced.

  5. ratbastard says

    Everybody cut the caca. Mexico, the central American nations, South American nations ALL have rigid immigration laws and if course birder controls. Why would the U.S. be any different? They treat ‘undocumented’ harshly. We Americans are pussycats by comparison. You can’t have anarchy and chaos at the borders and across the country because a large number of people have decided they have the right to enter the U.S. ILLEGALLY and then demand they be treated with kid gloves. What kind of childish BS is this? And much of the ‘children’ are teenagers, especially young men and some yoing women, some of them pregnant. This is a effing disaster and obviously was carefully planned and coordinated. By whom and for what reason(s)? I’m not sure, but have my suspicions.

  6. Moz's says


    the majority of caucasian americans have ancestors who either came illegally or committed an illegal act by lying about their, criminal background, name, religion, education, country of origin etc when they came to ellis island

  7. Rob says

    Why is this even news? If I were trying to travel around another country without a valid passport or visa, I would expect to be detained and/or deported. Why even have passports, visas and residency/citizenship if it is going to mean nothing?

  8. jarago says

    All illegal aliens should be deported NOW or stopped from entering the country-they are not undocumented migrants- they are people who are sneaking into the USA to live off our taxes. Seriously folks who do you think is going to take care of all those kids ? Mrs Obama?!

  9. ratbastard says


    LIE. And not only is it bald faced lie, but I’ll add that they didn’t get to latch on to our extensive social services like we have today because it didn’t exist. You had to be sponsored by a citizen and that sponsor was liable for the immigrant’s welfare if they had trouble making a living, in fact you were expected to have employment arranged. And if you had health problems, you’d either be turned back or quarantened where your health either improved, or you died. There are many mass graves where sick immigrants (99% white European) died and were buried.

    Stop eith the BS lies, Moz.

  10. ratbastard says

    News reports in my area report hundreds of children and young adults, illegal (undocumented) have caused city and social services for city about 20 miles from me to be on the verge of collapse. These people are destitute, have health problems, and what I found incredible, were described as illiterate in Spanish and of course English. They are attempting to put the older teenagers into high school with remedial help!

    And lets cut to the chase: THERE ARE FEW IF ANY JOBS FOR THESE PEOPLE. This is not 19th or early 20th century America. Our economic growth is enemic and we are a post-industrial society.

  11. Merv says

    Clearly, those who were brought to the US as children and spent their formative years here should be allowed to stay. Doing otherwise would be cruel and vindictive. On the other hand, it would be incredibly irresponsible to allow unaccompanied minors apprehended crossing the border to stay. That would only encourage many more parents to send their kids on that illegal and very dangerous journey. What about those who came to the US illegally as adults and spent many productive years here? Allow them to stay only if they pay very hefty fines of at least a year’s wages. They shouldn’t gain an advantage by jumping the queue. Most importantly, fine the hell out of people who hired them. Crackdowns on underage drinking are always most effective when enforcement concentrates on bars and liquor stores, not the teenagers buying the alcohol, who have very little to lose compared to the businesses.

  12. ScottCA says

    @ Moz: It’s absurd to claim that the “majority” of caucasian Americans “lied” their way into the country. Some certainly did; and those that were caught were subject to…..being deported. Because they did not have a right to enter the country illegally.

    @CHLOROGOTH: It’s equally absurd to claim that only “Native Americans” have a right to be here. Unless, perhaps, you can point without a doubt to a group of Native Americans who did not ever displace some other group of indigenous people who were in North American before them. How many people anywhere in the world can claim to be a pure descendant of the original humans in a given territory?

    Mr. Vargas is in a difficult situation, to be sure. However, he has known since the age of 16 that he was undocumented, and obtained a green card fraudulently. Now he chooses to define “American” as “someone who works really hard, someone who is proud to be in this country and wants to contribute to it.” Well isn’t that special. Can I move to Toronto, obtain a fraudulent work permit and define myself as Canadian because I work hard? Where in the world can you do such a thing? I doubt I can even decide to define myself as Filipino just because I find myself living in Manila without documents.

    Perhaps Mr. Vargas should use his considerable skills to improve things in Antipolo.

  13. Boston says

    I have no comment on this specific situation.

    However, when I first moved to DC many moons ago, I had sex with this dude. He had just starting writing for the Washington Post. During sex, he asked me if it was more prestigious for someone to write for the New York Times than the Post. This guy has all of the signs of narcissistic personality disorder. I don’t find him to be virtuous in any of his plights.

  14. iban4yesu says

    By “outed himself” you mean he ” “flaunted”, right?

    You’d have a soul mate here in Bay Area in this vile Taiwanese broad who’s a rabid anti immigration activist, while she is an immigrant herself.

    Congrats; you’ll never be alone, darling!

  15. iban4yesu says

    You got the nerve to compare yourself to Mr Vargas! (congratulation on your own Pulitzer, too!)
    Why don’t you doll take your time machine to go back a couple of centuries ago, mobilize the Philippine Army and with it kill off the one third population in America.
    Then you can do all the whining you want!

  16. iban4yesu says


    Congratulations to you too for your fab life in that “Tea Party red state”, where every social woe can get blamed on immigrants, never ever on those fat cats who screwed up the whole world`s economy in the first place!

  17. NewAmsterdam says


    If it makes you happier, he “pranced” in front of ICE, which didn’t do anything because he doesn’t fall into any of the priority categories for detention and deportation.

    Painting folks who are not in support of illegal immigration with a broad brush as “anti immigration” is overly simplistic, don’t you think, darling?

  18. bandanajack says

    wow, that’s all that i can say. yay tho i walk through the valley of trolls. i suspect andy should just turn of comments altogether, since the decent diverse community he once had is now populated by yahoo! rejects. unutterably sad.

  19. jlavoy says

    In complete seriousness – why do we really need borders? People will say “the economy” and “protecting jobs”, but those are unfounded abstractions. US policy is directly responsible for the continued poverty and violence of Mexican and Central American nations, yet we take no responsibility.

    So – why do we have borders?

  20. Merv says

    @JLAVOY – Without borders, every nice country would be overrun by desperately poor people and the quality of life would go into the toilet. Eventually, there should be a free flow of people, but that won’t be practical until there is rough parity in standard of living, which is a long way off.

  21. ratbastard says

    @bandanajack and jlavoy,

    In all seriousness, GROW UP.

    You want to help, donate your money to El Salvador and Guatemala. Good luck. Money and aid has been flowing to places like Guatemala and El Salvador for a long time, it doesn’t seem to help, except for the elites who run the countries,right, left, or center, doesn’t seem to matter.

  22. ScottCA says

    Why do so many undocumented immigrants seem to have such a sense of entitlement to legal status? I really cannot fathom being in any other country illegally, and demand that that country bend over backwards and accommodate me. A few years ago I looked into Canadian immigration; I found that there really was no way that I would qualify for it. It never occurred to me to simply move there and demand to be given a path to citizenship because I might want it.

  23. iban4yesu says

    So are you a bisexual man who is having sex with that Asian skank? Here goes another reason why I don’t trust bisexual boys! Lol

  24. Armando says

    I was born and raised here, but even I know what it’s like to be made to feel like I don’t belong here. I get it, you don’t like non-white people, that’s why you make a fuss about people from south of the border, but not from Canada and Europe.

  25. iban4yesu says

    The difference between USA Canada is that Canada didn’t contribute to all the miseries in the world that have been caused by the arrogant and eternally warfaring Empire.

  26. iban4yesu says

    The difference between USA Canada is that Canada didn’t contribute to all the miseries in the world that have been caused by the arrogant and eternally warfaring Empire.

  27. Allan says

    I can’t believe I’m reading comments from people calling for his deportation.
    I guess I’m in the minority when I completely agree with his and Define America’s agenda.

  28. Merv says

    @Armando – The prejudice has much more to do with the poverty of the immigrants than their color. There isn’t a lot of bitching and moaning today about immigrants from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore. However, there was a lot of complaining in the past about immigrants from Ireland, who are so white that they burn after thirty seconds in the sun. Ireland used to be extremely poor. Now that Ireland is rich, nobody complains.

  29. Acronym Jim says

    BOSTON, If Vargas was wondering aloud which news organization was a better fit during sex with you, it says more about you and your prowess than it does about him.

  30. anon says

    This is one of those policy issues that is purely political. There are no higher legal principles at stake. Open immigration has strong bipartisan support because Republicans want to import cheap labor (this includes STEM graduates from Asia on H1-B visas), and Democrats want to import cheap votes. And you know it’s political because no one is the least bit honest about their motives.

  31. Alexander says

    Let him and all other undocumented people who wish to stay,stay. Is it such a bad idea to change the fact that they are not currently taxpayers by making them into taxpayers??? Immigration is good for our country. Many are skilled workers. Do it up.

  32. Derrick from Philly says

    These young folks coming from Central America are not immigrants. They are refugees fleeing torture, rape and murder.

    If the United States supports Jordan taking in one million refugees from the West Bank and, now, Syria then surely the US can afford to take refugees from its own hemisphere.

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