Immigration and Society

Citizenship Without Certainty

October 2, 2018  • Aspen Ideas to Go

When Jose Antonio Vargas took a job as a journalist at the Washington Post after college, he was nervous. He was just starting his career—but that wasn’t the cause of his concern. He was covering politics in Washington, DC as an undocumented immigrant. “I thought the Washington Monument was this phallic symbol that was poking me whenever I walked around DC because you’re totally paranoid. You’re thinking that people are going to find out,” he says jokingly. In his new memoir Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, he chronicles the experience of hiding from the government. It’s not an uncommon story, he says. In his conversation with New York Times columnist David Brooks, he describes what it’s like to live in a country that feels like home but technically isn’t.

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