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'Documented' profiles award-winning reporter's revelation of illegal status

Jose Antonio Vargas Dicusses Life As Illegal Immigrant In U.S.

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Former Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Jose Antonio Vargas speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California on July 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Vargas, an illegal immigrant who recently came out in an article in the New York Times Magazine, spoke in conversation with Hearst Newspapers Editor at Large Phil Bronstein about his life as an illegal immigrant and how he was able to work for major U.S. newspapers.

Jose Antonio Vargas was in many ways the quintessential American story: a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with the Washington Post, who also wrote for the New Yorker and commanded an influential audience in the nation's capitol.

Then, in 2011, he revealed a secret that had been chasing him for years: all along he had been living and working in the U.S. illegally, just one of the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the country. He was brought to the U.S. when he was 12 years old from the Philippines.

By the time he turned 30, he felt like he could no longer keep his secret. 

"My life was superficially successful in terms of what I was doing career-wise, but I was just depressed and I couldn't face the reality of the fact that I'm here illegally," said Vargas on Take Two. "I had been lying to all of my employers...I lied to them about my immigration and I just couldn't. At some point I had to stop."

His new film, "Documented," opens Friday and chronicles his experience. KPCC's Leslie Berestein Rojas spoke with Vargas about the film.

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