The entire summit was buzzing yesterday after the lunchtime keynote address by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.
Vargas, who is a Millennial himself, embodies the mission of the MCE Summit to start a conversation about the challenges facing our generation and to propose and implement innovative solutions to overcoming them.
In 2011, Vargas ignited a firestorm of conversation, criticism and advocacy around immigration issues in America when he published an essay about his own life as an undocumented immigrant, a fact that had been not widely known previously. In 2012, Vargas followed up the explosive essay with a cover story in TIME magazine describing the challenges facing America’s 11.5 million undocumented immigrants and proposing solutions to improve our immigration system.
Wanting to capitalize on the momentum that his journalism produced, Vargas founded Define American, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to elevating and reframing the immigration conversation.
Vargas has written, “There are an estimated 11.5 million people like me in this country, human beings with stories as varied as that of the U.S. itself yet who lack a legal claim to exist here. It’s an issue that touches people of all ethnicities and backgrounds: Latinos and Asians, blacks and whites. (And yes, undocumented immigrants come from all sorts of countries, like Israel, Nigeria and Germany.) It’s an issue that goes beyond election-year politics and transcends the limitations of our broken immigration system and the policies being written to address them.”
At the MCE Summit, Vargas described the obstacles he faced growing up as what he has termed an “undocumented American,” and described how he found the strength to keep pushing for a better future, even when things seemed impossible. It’s a story that, no matter what their cause or passion, all summit participants could take lessons from.
For more from Vargas, follow him on Twitter at @JoseIsWriting.