Time's Illegal Immigration Cover Story: 'We Are Americans - Just Not Legally'

Time magazine waded into the illegal immigration debate Thursday with a preview of next Monday's cover and featured article guaranteed to generate heated discussion on both sides of the aisle.

In front of a picture of unknown immigrants save the story's controversial author Jose Antonio Vargas was the bold headline "We Are Americans*"; somewhat below it read "*Just not legally."

The article began:

'Why haven't you gotten deported?'

That's usually the first thing people ask me when they learn I'm an undocumented immigrant or, put more rudely, an "illegal." Some ask it with anger or frustration, others with genuine bafflement. At a restaurant in Birmingham, not far from the University of Alabama, an inebriated young white man challenged me: "You got your papers?" I told him I didn't. "Well, you should get your ass home, then." In California, a middle-aged white woman threw up her arms and wanted to know: "Why hasn't Obama dealt with you?" At least once a day, I get that...

The rest of the story is available only to Time subscribers, but a "Behind the Cover" piece shed some additonal light on its contents:

In Spring 2010, four undocumented students trekked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington to press passage of the Dream Act, a bill that would offer a path to permanent residency for immigrants who came to the country as minors and achieved certain educational accomplishments. Moved by their courage, Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who was part of the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize winning team for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, revealed that he, too, was an undocumented immigrant in an essay published by the New York Times Magazine last June.

A year later, Vargas finds that immigration in America has seen little progress, as he writes in this week’s TIME cover story.


A year later indeed.

As the Media Research Center's director of media analysis Tim Graham wrote at the time:

Former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas has written a long piece for The New York Times Magazine declaring that he’s an illegal alien and that he’s created a new advocacy group called Define American (“a project of the Tides Center”) to push for the DREAM Act that would provide permanent residency to illegal aliens brought to America as children.

Vargas, 30, lied to a string of media outlets about his immigration status with a fake driver’s license from Oregon. He came over from the Philippines at age 12. (Vargas told the truth to Post editor Peter Perl, a mentor, but he wouldn’t comment now.) In the Post story on this by Paul Farhi, Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti offered a no-comment on  Vargas’s employment at the paper: “We will not comment on individual personnel matters out of respect for the privacy of our employees.”

What that no-comment seems to say: “We don’t want to condemn lying to us about your immigration status since we probably employ a pile of ‘undocumented’ people and are too liberal a media outlet to seem scandalized.”

It might also be suggested that Vargas was hired smack-dab out of college in 2004 in part because he was Filipino and gay – an affirmative action two-fer. The illegal status might have only added to the allure. In 2006, the Post egregiously celebrated large Washington rallies for amnesty for illegal aliens.


Graham noted the following day that Vargas had immediately become "the Left's illegal-alien hero."

The New York Times Magazine's editor came out a few days later covering for Vargas by saying that lying in journalism is nothing new. As Graham wrote:

Over the weekend, NPR’s On The Media found that the New York Times was so fascinated by self-proclaimed illegal alien activist Jose Antonio Vargas and found his story so compelling, the credibility of the author was not an issue. New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief Hugo Lindgren (that "great magazine head") said all the lying about his citizenship is not an issue for journalists:

That's something that's come up today. You know, people say, you know, you lie about one thing and people can't stop lying if they do that. And I think some of that misses the point. This is not unprecedented in journalism. This is not the first person who's ever told a lie who then goes on to write about it.

"The point" not to be missed is political: the injustice isn't the lying, Lindgren is saying, it's the system that "forces" illegals to lie.

So a year later - and just five months before a pivotal presidential election! - Vargas gets a Time magazine cover story to further his illegal immigration agenda whilst most assuredly politicizing this matter in a fashion that helps the current White House resident.

I'm surprised the cover didn't feature a picture of President Obama made to look Hispanic with the headline "The First Latino President."

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.