Self-declared undocumented immigrant, immigration rights activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas has made a documentary all about his own experiences and has now successfully sold the rights to the film, Documented, to CNN. The documentary tells the story of how Vargas was brought to the United States when he was a child from the Philippines.
Vargas grew up in California and managed to make it through the system with the aid of family, friends, school administrators and teachers before managing to get a driver’s license and get into college before commencing work as a Washington Post reporter. Vargas announced his undocumented status in a New York Times editorial just before he started filming Documented and spent the next two years documenting his experiences as he attempted to finally gain citizenship.
Vargas has also touched on the stories of other immigrants, many of whom would gain major benefits from the DREAM Act, which is presently stalled in Congress together with other legislation regarding immigration reform. “It is imperative that we remind people what is actually at stake and that we humanize as much as possible a highly political, highly partisan issue,” Vargas says. “A film to me has the potential to not only change policy but to change people’s minds and hearts.”
Vargas has changed his focus to immigration reform from journalism on a full-time basis, also heading up advocacy group Define America, which intends to launch a campaign around the release of the film early next year.