(SPOT.ph) Thirty-year-old journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who exposed his story of being an illegal immigrant in an essay titled "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant" that was published in last week’s issue of the The New York Times, may not face immigration charges, according to immigration lawyers and officials, reports GMA News. US officials said they intend to prioritize those with "the most significant threats to public safety," thus eliminating the possibility of the Pulitzer winner’s deportation.
According to an interview with ABS-CBN News, former American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) president David Leopold said that "Vargas is the kind of person we want in America," adding that he has worked hard and became an excellent writer with a promising career. Vargas, the second Filipino after Carlos P. Romulo to win a Pulitzer for his participation in the coverage of the Virginia Tech Massacre, worked for esteemed publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. Leopold said that Vargas may face civil penalties but doubts that any criminal charges will be filed.
Meanwhile, deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told Radio dzRB that Malacañang is ready to assist Vargas if he comes to the Department of Foreign Affairs for help. Leopold also said that Vargas has not approached AILA for aid either. "Hopefully he will be represented by a competent immigration attorney," Leopold said.
Vargas admitted he was unsure of the legal implications of his revelation but he meant it to show support for the DREAM Act, a bill which would provide young immigrant students the possibility of gaining US citizenship. "On the surface, I've created a good life. I've lived the American dream... But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality," he said in an ABS-CBN report. "In my heart, I am an American," he added, explaining his support for immigration.
In an interview with Associated Press, Vargas' mother, Emelie Salinas, worried about the implications of his revelationl. "He was already there, he already achieved his dream, what else did he want?" Salinas had her father smuggle Vargas to the US when he was 12 with the promise that she would follow later. Salinas, however, had continually been denied a visa. She said her son was ready for the possible consequences, including deportation. "We are excited to see him," she said.