The journalist who revealed he was an undocumented immigrant in a blockbuster article a year ago said he’s still in the country, but won’t be eligible to apply for a work permit under President Barack Obama’s immigration reform policy.
Speaking on WNYC’s the Brian Lehrer Show on Monday, Jose Antonio Vargas applauded the president’s push to allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.
“The president should be commended for the bold and courageous decision that he did on Friday,” Vargas said. “But history is going to have to decide how all the deportations, more than a million people in three years, how that’s going to be able to be justified.”
Vargas is a journalist and an undocumented immigrant, who outed himself in an article he wrote for the New York Times Magazine in June 2011.
He also wrote the cover story for this week’s Time Magazine, titled “We are Americans* (*Just not legally), in which he reported on living in citizenship limbo.
Having turned 31 four months ago, Vargas said he’s not eligible to apply for the president’s new policy, which applies to immigrants under the age of 30. But he applauded the young undocumented immigrants who lobbied for the Dream Act, and whose “coming out,” he said, contributed to the change in the immigration debate’s tone.
“There is definitely risks in coming out,” Vargas said. “But I bet more and more and more people will be coming out [following Obama’s decision].”
Vargas said that meant not only young undocumented students, but also American citizens who supported them.
Some potential candidates for deferred action have expressed concern about applying and then facing possible deportation if there is a change in the policy, following November elections.
“There is some danger that those individuals might end up in removal proceedings,” said Allan Wernick, professor of law at Baruch College, told WNYC.
Speaking on CBS’ Sunday morning talk-show Face the Nation the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, stopped short of declaring he would overturn Obama’s decision if he won the White House this fall.
Instead, he said he would “work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally.”
Don Lyster, director of the National Immigration Law Center, told WNYC that although it’s hard to say what exactly will happen, given the small amount of information that is for now available, he would “encourage folks to use this policy and to come forth … and to take advantage of it.”