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Undocumented NYT Reporter Loses Driver's License

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 25, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The state of Washington has revoked the driver's license of Jose Antonio Vargas in response to the undocumented reporter revealing that he has hid his illegal immigrant status from his friends and employers for the last 14 years.

Last month the New York Times published an article by Vargas entitled, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant, detailing his arrival in the United States and the steps he took to conceal his status so that he could attend college and work his way to a promising career in journalism.

According to Vargas' article, he arrived in the U.S. as a 12-year-old on a fake passport from the Philippines. His grandparents hid his status from him until he tried to get a license at the age of 16.

Though he worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, and even won a Pulitzer Prize at the Washington Post, he provided each employer with altered documents.

He explains that he and his grandfather doctored his Social Security card and driver's license so that they no longer read "Valid for work only with I.N.S. authorization."

As one of the few states that permit undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses, the Seattle Times reports that Washington was the perfect licensing choice for Jose Antonio Vargas.

Washington also requires that applicants be residents, which Vargas was not. However, with the help of a friend's father who lived locally, he was able to provide proof of residency.

Admitting this in his article led state officials to investigate his residency according to the Seattle paper.

They sent a letter asking him to verify his residency status, but it was returned unopened. Thus the revoked license.

If losing his driver's license is the worst thing that befalls Jose Antonio Vargas, he will be a very lucky man. Exposing himself as an undocumented reporter was akin to admitting that he engaged in 14 years of fraud and criminal behavior.

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