Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist Who "Came Out" as Undocumented Migrant, Becomes Poster Boy, Inspires Locals

At age 30, Jose Antonio Vargas already has a coveted Pulitzer Prize under his belt and now there's something else he can add to his resume: poster boy of undocumented migrants. 

A few months ago, Vargas, who grew up in Santa Clara County, seemingly had it all. 

His words had graced the pages of some of the country's big newspapers, he'd interviewed the big shots and he had a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting to validate his hard work. 

But, he had a secret that he decided he couldn't veil any longer.

So, in June,

via a New York Times Magazine story

, he "came out" as an undocumented migrant from the Philippines and admitted to lying to government officials, employers and friends.

Almost immediately the story went viral and Vargas got just what he wanted: people started to talk about immigration.

Over the past few weeks, Vargas has segued seamlessly from successful journalist to well-known activist. 

He started a petition, which already boasts more than 79,000 signatures, and asks people to start a new national conversation on immigration. "Pledge to ask questions, debate, listen, and learn," Vargas asks of those who sign the petition housed on  

​So, what's his next step? The Colbert Report. Vargas is hoping to raise as many signatures as possible before he goes on to face Stephen Colbert tomorrow evening. 

Jorge Gutierrez, a member of the Orange County Dream Team, says he has already signed the petition and is excited to watch the episode. 

The petition has circled through a lot of local listservs, Gutierrez says, adding that he thinks Vargas is an important new figurehead for undocumented migrants.

"Him being so open about his reality is so courageous. His piece was really inspiring and I think it empowers Dreamers," Gutierrez says.

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