After Writing Blistering Letter, Undocumented Activists Invite Jose Antonio Vargas to Honest Dialogue About Immigration

Earlier today, HuffPost Latino Voices published an open letter addressed to noted undocumented activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. The letter, co-authored by undocumented activists Luis Serrano and Cesar Vega, discussed the recent attention Vargas’ arrest in McAllen, Texas, received. The letter, to put it bluntly, did not mince words.

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Here is one excerpt:

We have refrained from judgment or addressing the issue with you in hopes that you will learn and grow into a true advocate for our communities.

Sadly, you have not, and you have been stomping on the movement work of grassroots organizations that deeply care about the issue beyond promoting ourselves. Your vision seems to be clouded by your need to appeal to a segment of white America unconvinced of our humanity and dignity. It’s because of this that we feel the need to tell you that you don’t represent undocumented people in this country, you don’t speak for our movement and you certainly do not humanize it. We represent the ones deemed “criminals,” the deportees, the ones in deportation proceedings, the ones suffering from addiction, the high school dropouts, the college drop outs, the working class that are trying to make a quick buck to get by, and the children at the border – because many of us were once children at the border. In this sense what you once said is true —
you only represent yourself.

Later in the letter, the co-authors added this:

You have played those politics, you have played the media, but you will not play us.

We urge you to reflect on whom, in the struggle for your own rights and your own freedoms, you exclude and whose humanity you impinge. We call on you to stop promoting that “good immigrant” assimilationist narrative and we call on you to apologize for using the crisis of Central American children at the border as an opportunity to promote your own image. We invite you to come to California, to join us in our advocacy and service to community. We want you to see how the work that has laid out the platform for you to be able to go around and parade around this nation, and get arrested, is built.

At the end of the letter, the co-authors called for a more open dialogue about the immigration rights movement:

We are not here to point the finger, but to offer solutions, and dialogue. That is why we extend an invitation for you to come to our spaces, and help us strategize and vice versa. How can we help each other reach our goals?

What do you think of the open letter? Is it a productive step or is it counter-productive? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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