Immigration activist, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to speak at Northwestern

Olivia Exstrum, Campus Editor

Journalist and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas will speak at Northwestern on March 4 as College Democrats’ winter speaker.

Vargas, an advocate for immigration reform in the United States, went public with his status as an undocumented immigrant in a 2011 article in The New York Times Magazine. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2008, and has written for the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post and Time Magazine.

“We chose Jose because he hits on a number of issues that we’re about,” said Weinberg junior Quentin Heilbroner, president of College Democrats. “We realized we could get someone who has such a relevant story and is current to so many issues.”

In 2011, Vargas also created Define American, an organization that works to create dialogue around immigration issues. Heilbroner said College Democrats has been looking at having Vargas speak for several months.

“It’s his life story, how his being undocumented has affected his very successful career and his experiences,” he said. “That image of immigrants sneaking over the border and stealing our jobs is completely unjust … I’m very excited.”

Heilbroner said he thinks there is a push by both Democrats and Republicans to reform the immigration system. The fact that Vargas, already a public figure, would have to go through a complicated process to become a citizen makes him “super relevant,” Heilbroner said.

“(The immigration system) is not deterring that many people from coming to us,” he said. “It just makes their lives immeasurably harder once they’re here.”

The event will be at 7 p.m. in the McCormick Foundation Center Forum.

NU alumnus and former adviser to Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross, was last year’s winter speaker.

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