Almost everyone has travelled to a foreign place, met unfamiliar people, and foreign culture. But, the different ways in which people will cope in those places differ. Some find life more comfortable, amazing, and better than the places they left. Over the years, people from different parts of the world have chosen to immigrate to the United States to find a better life for themselves or for their families. However, most of the immigrants in the U.S. don’t have proper documents to acquire the American citizenship and they are being called as undocumented immigrants. One of the undocumented immigrants happens to be Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.
The author presents his childhood story of how he left the Philippines at a very young age for America with his grandparents. In his article “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” published in the New York Times in June 22, 2011, Jose Antonio Vargas describes how complicated his life was in the United States in his efforts to try and acquire American citizenship. The author’s purpose of posting the article was to inform the various problems faced by the undocumented immigrants in their quest to become American citizens and the injustices present in the immigration department of the United States. This article illustrates the effectiveness of Vargas’ choice of audience, the use of Vargas’ struggles as an undocumented immigrant, and his personal choice to arouse emotional appeal to the audience.
Jose Antonio Vargas was first sneaked into the United States with fake documents at the age of twelve. He was being settled in a foreign country not knowing anything. The author’s rollercoaster journey began when he went to the D.M.V. office to receive his driver’s license. The D.M.V. clerk checked Vargas’ green card and said that it was fake and told Vargas to never come back there again. He convinced himself that he could earn the American citizenship if he pays taxes, if he gives positive impacts to his society, and if he achieves enough.
Vargas strived hard to create a good life and lived the American dream everyone wanted to. Jose Antonio Vargas has even graduated from high school and college and he became a successful journalist. His fear of being caught that he is undocumented keeps dangling in his head in his whole life. Vargas then realized that even with a huge amount of success and a good life he has built, nothing will change his true identity. He decided to tell his story to the country he loves, America. Vargas’ way of writing this article tells us that undocumented immigrants in the United States are treated unfairly by the society and they were being called as criminals or “illegal aliens.”
Vargas’ draws readers emotionally as he emphasizes the guilt he felt throughout the years hiding his identity in secret. Vargas knew that he couldn’t just stay silent without doing anything, so he started to apply for part-time jobs such as working at Subway, working at a sports club, and doing internships. He kept on getting part-time and full-time jobs using his photocopied fake Social Security card. Jose Antonio Vargas then recognized that, “This deceit never got easier. The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried – and the more I worried that I would get caught.
But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way” (Vargas). His statement does evoke pathos to the readers as he claims the more he kept doing his way of hiding in secret by using fake Social Security card to apply for jobs will get worse and will enlarge the guilt that he already has to get bigger. Vargas’ saying makes the readers feel pressure toward his situation which leaves the audience no other choice but to understand and feel sorry for him. This quote has successfully stirred up the readers’ emotions as it will make the readers conclude that this perilous way of having a job has been done by the other undocumented immigrants in order to survive living in the United States with that identity.
The author’s choice of confessing that he is a gay and the result after that arouse sympathy to the readers. Vargas was still in his school year at the time being. His class watched a documentary of an openly gay person who was executed. Vargas then raised his hand up and suddenly confessed that he is gay. He openly announced the fact that he is gay in front of every students in his class without thinking the consequences that he will be facing after what he has done. Vargas was kicked out of his house for a few weeks by his grandfather and he has truly disappointed them. The author said, “I was making matters more difficult for myself, he said.
I needed to marry an American woman in order to gain a green card” (Vargas). Even though being a gay didn’t seem as frightening as being undocumented, it still brings emotion to the readers as Vargas had to deal with his grandfather disappointment towards him and he had to find a place to live for a few weeks. His saying of he has to marry an American woman in order to get a green card makes the readers feel sympathetic towards him because the readers know that he couldn’t because he is gay. The struggle the author has to face in this situation causes the audience to pity the author as his grandparents had to cope with the embarrassment because their grandson is gay.