Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Why haven't you gotten deported?'

It's been a year since ex-Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer winner Jose Antonio Vargas revealed in a New York Times essay that he is undocumented, brought to the United States illegally from the Philippines as a child. Since then he has become an activist, launching the advocacy website Define American. Now he and 35 other young undocumented people are on the cover of TIME Magazine, for which he has written a cover story.

While Vargas is in his thirties, his personal story is similar to that of the undocumented youths who are now the focus of several bills aiming to grant them some form of legal status. They were brought to the U.S. as children and educated here, growing up as Americans in most every other sense. The full story is available only to TIME subscribers, but there are other features to click on, like a photo gallery of portraits of the people on the cover, among them an aspiring journalist born in Peru, a psychology degree holder born in Mexico, a young German-born man who aspires to a political career, an aspiring doctor born in India and so forth.

The intro to Vargas' cover story:

'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...

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