One of the highest-profile panels of NetRoots Nation, an annual confab of left-wing activists and bloggers, was a “Presidential Town Hall,” featuring Democrat candidates Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. The panel was moderated by Filipino citizen, journalist, and illegal immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas.
Even in 2015, it would perhaps seem odd to have a foreign national moderate a discussion between two candidates for the U.S. Presidency. These are not fringe candidates, mind you, but statewide officeholders who have a plausible claim to be the nominee for the Democrat party.
One can only imagine the hand-wringing were a foreign journalist like Britain’s Piers Morgan to assume a similar role.
Journalist Vargas is more than a Philippine citizen, however. He is, euphemistically, an “undocumented immigrant.” That’s to say, an illegal immigrant. Vargas become a media-darling with a personal essay in New York Magazine four years ago, detailing his life as a foreign national, living in the U.S. as an American citizen.
The essay is an account of his being smuggled into the U.S. and raised by his grandparents. It’s rich in details about fake green cards, false Social Security cards and a perceived fear of being discovered.
The essay also provides details on several influential journalists who, hearing the details of Vargas’ foreign citizenship, did nothing to help him. Everyone he came into contact with, it seems, simply shuffled him through. Interestingly, the essay contains no anecdotes about anyone doing anything to get him into the legal immigration system.
A grandson of naturalized U.S. citizens, there is perhaps more to Vargas’ story and why he had to remain forever in the “shadows.” At the very least, it ought to call into question how the federal government can manage the existing immigration system, let alone one with a completely open border.
The particulars of Vargas’ story ought to be left to sociologist and psychologists, though. The publication of his essay has certain been a career bonanza for Mr. Vargas.
Very few journalists are afforded the opportunity to vet potential U.S. Presidents. For the organizers of NetRoots Nation, a journalist who is a U.S. citizen need not apply.