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Jose Antonio Vargas Partners With L.A. Times

Jose Antonio Vargas Partners With L.A. Times


The gay, undocumented journalist plans to lend the Times a new perspective on race and immigration.

The Los Angeles Times is teaming up with gay activist, journalist, and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas to create a new multimedia Web portal dedicated to covering the issues of race, immigration and multiculturalism.

The new effort will be called #EmergingUS, "which uses a hashtag to encourage conversations on social media," the Times reports. It will include original video, graphics, and other digital content as well as commentary that may also appear on the Times' op-od page.

The title can be read to say "Emerging United States" as well as "Emerging us," the Times notes.

Vargas, 34, is a Filipino-American who was ranked 41st on The Advocate's 2014 List of The 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media.

Although he came out as gay in high school, Vargas came out again in 2011 as an undocumented immigrant: he gained national attention with an essay in The New York Times Magazine magazine about life growing up in the United States as a noncitizen. The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for TheWashington Post and San Francisco Chronicle revealed he had been brought to the U.S. illegally when he was a child.

Vargas, who has long championed stories about the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country without legal documentation, will examine all sides of this issue, including "how white Americans in the region are faring as a new minority mind the rise of Latino and Asian American populations," the Times reports.

"Too often, when we talk about race in political and cultural terms, it's framed as a white-and-black issue," Vargas told the Times. "But it's white and black and Latino and Asian and Middle Eastern. It's Native Americans, who are too often forgotten. It's interracial Americans."

Vargas is currently a producer for MTV's Look Different campaign, a film project airing later this year exploring what it means to be young and white in America.

Vargas made headlines last summer when he was detained in Texas while trying to board a flight to Los Angeles. He was held for eight hours by immigration officials at McAllen International Airport checkpoint for not having a U.S. visa.

After his release, he told The New York Times he was let go "because I am a low priority and not considered a threat. I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are not a threat either."

CNN Money reports the new partnership will be shared between the Times and Vargas.

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