July 22, 2011

Define American | The Seattle Times
Jose Antonio Vargas, who revealed last month in The New York Times that he is an undocumented immigrant to the U.S., has had his driver’s license revoked by Washington state.

Vargas got his first driver’s license in Oregon. “The license meant everything to me — it would let me drive, fly and work,” he wrote in The New York Times.

He received the Washington driver’s license only recently, when his Oregon one expired after eight years.

Early this year, just two weeks before my 30th birthday, I won a small reprieve: I obtained a driver’s license in the state of Washington. The license is valid until 2016. This offered me five more years of acceptable identification — but also five more years of fear, of lying to people I respect and institutions that trusted me, of running away from who I am.

Vargas learned Wednesday night that the license was revoked.

…it’s a sad feeling. In some ways, my driver’s license has been my life line. … I am sorry that I broke our laws in order to get a driver’s license. As parents tell their children, “a license is a privilege.” Losing that privilege is part of my facing up to what I’ve done. However, I believe it is a small price to pay relative to the big things we’re going to do, together.

The Seattle Times reports:

Licensing officials launched an investigation after Vargas’ article appeared in the magazine June 22.

They sent a letter to the Northgate-area address he had used when he applied, giving him 20 days to prove his state residency. The letter was returned unopened.

Previously: Peter Perl: ‘I haven’t been fired or suspended or fined’ for keeping Vargas secret || High school journalists kept Vargas’ secret for six weeks

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Julie Moos (jmoos@poynter.org) has been Director of Poynter Online and Poynter Publications since 2009. Previously, she was Editor of Poynter Online (2007-2009) and Poynter Publications…
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