By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
February 1, 2013
NEW YORK – The most popular undocumented immigrant on the planet moderated an online discussion of President Barack Obama’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal.
Pulitzer prize-winning Filipino journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas introduced himself to netizens by saying, “Hi I’m Jose Antonio Vargas, one of our country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants who call America home.”
A forum initiated by Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, “Fireside Hangout” is the 21st century version of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous radio addresses.
The White House Google Hangout panel included advocates from different immigration reform movements.
Vargas asked Munoz about the Obama administration’s deportation of a record high 1.5 million undocumented immigrants.
“The government’s job is to do what Congress tells it to do. Under the present immigration laws that we got right now, Congress requires us to remove people who are removable,” Munoz said, “but at the end of the day we are enforcing a system that is broken and our primary job here is to fix it.”
Vargas, who also participated in Huff Post Live’s online discussion on immigration reform said it’s now up to the president if this is how he wants to be remembered.
“This is about his legacy,” Vargas asked, “Is he going to be remembered as the president who deported 1.5 Million people or is he going to be the President who welcomed 11 Million new Americans?”
During his Huff Post live interview Vargas also reacted to Senator John Mccain’s earlier comment on LGBT and Immigraton Reform.
McCain was quoted as saying: “Which is more important LGBT or border security? I’ll tell you what my priorities are. If you’re going to load it up with social issues, that’s the best way to derail it in my view.”
“Look I’m undocumented and I also happen to be gay,” Vargas said, “This is the President who last week gave the most inclusive inaugural address in history connecting Seneca, Selma to Stonewall. Immigration is an LGBT Issue, there are undocumented LGBT Americans in this country, same sex bi-national couples are being separated because of this broken law.”
Vargas said that his being gay is not a social issue but a fact that immigration reform has to address.
“I can’t marry my way to citizenship like straight people can right now. I can get married in New York where I live but because of the defense of marriage act the federal government which hands out visas won’t recognize my marriage,” he added.
Vargas said that he was happy and surprised for being chosen by the White House to host such an important debate. He contends though that there are many more questions that need answers from the President.
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