AIF Blog

What's It Like to Be an Immigrant in Today's America?

Sep 18, 2018

Writer Jose Antonio Vargas speaks with David Brooks, an executive director at the Aspen Institute, at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June. Vargas has lived as an undocumented immigrant in America for more than two decades.

When Jose Antonio Vargas took a job as a journalist at the Washington Post after college, he was nervous. He was just starting his career—but that wasn't the cause of his concern. He was covering politics in Washington, DC as an undocumented immigrant. "I thought the Washington Monument was this phallic symbol that was poking me whenever I walked around DC because you’re totally paranoid. You’re thinking that people are going to find out," he says jokingly. In his new memoir Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, he chronicles the experience of hiding from the government. It's not an uncommon story, he says. In his conversation with New York Times columnist David Brooks, he describes what it's like to live in a country that feels like home but technically isn't.


Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes hereThe views and opinions of the speakers in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.