MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS 5) — A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who grew up in the Bay Area made a startling admission, outing himself as an undocumented worker.

“I’m an undocumented immigrant. What some people call an illegal,” said 30-year-old Jose Antonio Vargas in a YouTube video.

When Vargas was 12 and living in the Philippines, his mother took him to the airport and sent him to Mountain View to live with his grandparents – who provided him with a green card that turned out to be fake.

“My mom wanted me to have a better life, so she sent me to live with my grandparents in Silicon Valley,” Vargas said in the video.

Vargas didn’t know about his citizenship status until he was 16, when he tried to apply for a driver’s license.

College seemed out of reach and low-wage jobs likely, until Vargas told Mountain View High School Principal Pat Hyland and school district Superintendent Rich Fisher that he was in the country illegally.

They became mentors and surrogate parents, eventually finding a scholarship fund for high-achieving students that allowed him to attend San Francisco State University.

Vargas was hired for an internship at The San Francisco Chronicle and would later become a newspaper writer for The Washington Post, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the mass shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech University.

He said in an interview Thursday that he wants to push Congress to pass a bill called the DREAM Act that would allow people like himself who came to this country as children to get an education and become citizens.

A spokesperson for the San Jose immigrant rights group SIREN said rarely does someone so prominent as Vargas come out to put a face on the hot button issue of illegal immigration.

“It highlights the very reason people come to this country: the American Dream, to have opportunity that the parents didn’t have,” said Siren’s Zelica Rodriguez.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (6)
  1. Zack Debarco says:

    This guy is a thief!!! He stole the place of a legal immigrant when he went on to stay here illegally. Don’t start the whinning about how it’s not his fault that his mom sent him here when he was 12. Why didn’t his grandparents adopt him so that he could stay legally? Perhaps they too were here illegally. I am tired of paying my taxes and loosing my benefits because the money is being sucked away by illegals. I AM FOR LEGAL IMMIGRATION AND MORE OF IT!! This country needs to set some limits, as having none only punishes those that play by the rules. I am sure there are thousands out there who are waiting to legally emigrate and to allow these illegals in is UNJUST!!! Take that, all you who want JUSTICE!!!

      1. AlexT says:

        Actually sheep dip, you need to educate yourself before you spout off!

  2. AlexT says:

    Oh buy the way, that’s in 2004 dollars think of what it costs now?????

  3. Steve O says:

    Make an example of him and send him home

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