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A conversation with immigrant advocate Jose Antonio Vargas on what it means to be American

Jose Antonio Vargas (left) and Ely Portillo
Define American/WFAE
Jose Antonio Vargas (left) and Ely Portillo

Jose Antonio Vargas did not know he was an undocumented immigrant until he attempted to get his driver's license in his home state of California. He kept that information quiet at first, but has since used his story as a way to discuss the role of immigrants in the United States.

Vargas founded the advocacy group Define American. Part of the group's mission is to use the power of story to rise above politics in order to shift the conversation around immigration. It also pushes media organizations of all kinds to take a look inward at how they discuss immigrants and immigration.

As part of an event for WFAE's Equilibrium Live, Vargas sat down with WFAE's Senior Editor for News and Planning Ely Portillo to discuss his story, the state of immigration in this country and American identity.


Jose Antonio Vargas, founder and president of Define American

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Gabe Altieri is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Prior to joining WFAE in 2022, he worked for WSKG Public Media in Binghamton, New York.