Jose Antonio Vargas on immigrant rights and working together to tackle inequality

Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American, explains how inequality and injustice are connected. “You don’t have to be an immigrant to advocate for immigrant rights,” he says.


JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: The United States of America is undergoing an unprecedented demographic earthquake unlike anything this country or this world has ever seen. And until we face, fully face and confront the inequalities that run across all of these issues and all of these people, we’re not going to get anywhere.

[Inequality is logo. A graphic black equal sign with an orange slash through it. #InequalityIs. Jose Antonio Vargas, founder, Define America. A stout Filipino man, wearing a white dress shirt with an unbuttoned collar and a black blazer.]

As a young undocumented American, my future was always dependent on this piece of law called the Dream Act. The White House announced an executive action to provide temporary relief to undocumented youth. They decided that it was going to be 30 and under, and I had just turned 31, so I missed it by four months. Laws in this country do not always equal justice. We put a sign at the US-Mexico border that says “keep out” and then 10 yards in we say “help wanted.” We, historically, are addicted to cheap labor. I have hope that every young American, Black American, undocumented American, gay American, all of us see how all of these issues are interconnected. You don’t have to be a gay person to advocate for LGBT rights. You don’t have to be an immigrant to advocate for immigrant rights. You don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist. Inequality is a two-way street. My equality is tied to your equality.

[Inequality Is Logo. Join the conversation. #InequalityIs.]

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