Filipino Pulitzer prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas, who publicly declared last year that he was an illegal immigrant in the United States, graces the June 25 cover of Time Magazine, along with 35 other undocumented immigrants in the US.
Vargas also wrote the cover story, describing how he has seen “little progress” in US’ immigration policy since 2010 when four undocumented students trekked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington to press passage of the “DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act.”
The bill proposes permanent residency for immigrants who came to the US as minors and achieved certain educational accomplishments.
Moved by what the four students did, Vargas revealed in an essay published in the New York Times in June last year that he too was an illegal immigrant.
Vargas is a journalist who was part of the Washington Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.
In his essay in the New York Times, Vargas revealed that as a 12-year-old boy in 1993, he was handed a jacket and told he was going somewhere cold.
He did not know that he was being escorted to the United States without the proper documents by a “coyote” posing as his uncle.
He only discovered four years later that he was an illegal alien when his application for a driver’s license was turned down because of his fake green card.
Vargas is just one of more than 10 million illegal immigrants in the US, with many studying in public institutions or performing vital services.
Of that number, some 280,000 are Filipinos, according to recent data from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.
Under the proposed law, the immigrants who are eligible for US citizenship are those who:
have entered the US before the age of 16;
have been in the US for at least five consecutive years;
have graduated from a US high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into college;
are between the age of 12 and 35 at the time of application; and
have good moral character.
In 2010, the DREAM Act was passed by the US House of Representatives, but was thumbed down by the Senate.
According to a December 2010 report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the passage of the bill “would affect federal revenues in a number of ways.
While the new measure could increase US revenues by as much as $2.3 billion over 10 years, the CBO report said it could also increase net direct spending by $912 million over the same period.
It further noted that while the legislation could reduce deficits by about $1.4 billion over the 2011-2020 period, ” eventual conversion of some of the conditional nonimmigrants to legal permanent resident (LPR) status after 2020 would lead to significant increases in spending for the federal health insurance exchanges, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition – AM/VVP/HS, GMA News