‘Define American’ to illegal immigrants: ‘We cannot allow ourselves to be terrorized … We have rights’

(image: screenshot)

The founder of the immigration group Define American called out American citizens’ “privilege” while calling on illegal immigrants to resist being “terrorized.”

Immigration activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas weighed in on reports about the Trump administration reportedly separating migrant children from their families during a panel discussion on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Sunday.

(Video: MSNBC)

After addressing claims that children were being held in poor conditions in facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border, MSNBC host Joy Reid asked Vargas, himself an undocumented immigrant, what can be done.

“How do we get people to see them, then? You yourself face this fear every day. How do we get people on the other side who think we don’t care?” she asked.

“In addition to going on the streets and of course voting your conscience, the question now is what are American citizens willing to risk? Like what are you doing with your privilege?” the 38-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner responded.

“If you see someone getting arrested in front of you, if you see someone, you’re riding on a bus, you’re on a train, ICE shows up, they ask for papers, what are you going to do? Are you going to protect people on the bus, in the train who can’t show their papers because they don’t have any?” he asked.

Vargas, who was born in the Philippines and was brought to the U.S. when he was twelve, went public with his immigration status in 2011. He told the MSNBC panel about a family member inviting him to stay over if he was worried about impending ICE raids.

After initial reports about a mass round-up of illegal immigrants in several U.S. cities that was slated to begin Sunday, President Trump announced a two-week postponement, saying that he had delayed the raids “at the request of Democrats.”

Vargas declared Sunday that he has “a right to feel safe in my home,” as he then addressed other illegal immigrants directly, as he had done on Twitter a day earlier.

“To all the undocumented people watching, we cannot allow ourselves to be terrorized. We cannot do that,” he said.

“We have to live our lives the best and as full as we can. We cannot live in fear, and we have to remember that we actually have rights,” he added, citing the U.S. Constitution and due process as noted in the Fourteenth Amendment:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


“I am actually as a person protected by the Constitution. We have rights. And so do all the American citizens who are actually citizens of this country,” Vargas continued on MSNBC.

“I think the question is.” he added, “you have to figure out how are you going to be a sanctuary to people. What are you going to risk and what are you willing to do?”

Note: The headline previously said, “Define America” instead of “Define American” as the group’s name. It has been corrected.


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