Jose Antonio Vargas Has Driver’s License Revoked

The writer calls it another reminder of the collective struggle facing immigrants like him.

By Jamilah King Jul 22, 2011

Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist who bravely came out as an undocumented immigrant last month, has had his Washington state driver’s license revoked.

"We conducted in an investigation and concluded that he wasn’t residing at the address he provided us," Department of Licensing spokeswoman Christine Anthony told the Huffington Post.

Vargas announced his legal status to the world in a moving New York Times Magazine essay last month. In it, he described how he emigrated to California from the Philippines in 1993 when he was only 12. He lived with his grandparents, who’d arranged forged immigration documents for him, and didn’t find out about his legal status until an ill-fated trip to the DMV when he was 16.

Vargas first obtained a driver’s license in Oregon, and then in Washington state — one of only two states, along with New Mexico, that don’t require license applicants to provide social security numbers. In his essay, Vargas wrote of the experience:

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.

The Huffington Post reports that a spokesperson pointed an AP reporter to a blog post on Vargas website for Define American for comment. In it, Vargas writes that he learned of the Licensing department’s decision on Wednesday and reiterated that the struggle for many undocumented immigrants continues.

"It’s not unexpected, given how I laid out in detail how I’ve been able to live, work and survive as an undocumented immigrant in our country," Vargas wrote. "Still, it’s a sad feeling. In some ways, my driver’s license has been my life line."