Jose Antonio Vargas, a former Washington Post journalist who revealed in a 2011 New York Times essay that he was living in the United States illegally after having been brought to California from the Philippines as a child, has announced that he will be selling the broadcast rights to "Documented" - his documentary about his experiences as an undocumented immigrant - to CNN Films. The Associated Press reports that "Documented", which Vargas wrote and created over the course of two years, will be broadcast nationally in the spring of 2014. Scroll down to the end of the page to check out a trailer.
In "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant", his New York Times essay, Vargas wrote that he was inspired to "out" himself as undocumented by four students who walked from Miami to Washington in 2010 to lobby for the passage of the Dream Act, a bill which would extend legal permanent residency to young people educated in the US. "There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States," he wrote. "We're not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read."
At age 12, he wrote, his mother sent him to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, California. He first learned that he didn't have immigration papers when he was 16, after trying to acquire a driver's license at the DMV using a green card that turned out to be fake. Part of the film details his relationship with his mother, whom he hadn't seen for 20 years (she had tried to follow her son to California but saw her attempts frustrated by the rejection of immigration authorities). It also tells the stories of other "DREAMers", or undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. "It is imperative that we remind people what is actually at stake and that we humanize as much as possible a highly political, highly partisan issue," Vargas told the AP. "A film to me has the potential to not only change policy but to change people's minds and hearts." Amy Entelis, a senior vice president at CNN who oversees the film unit, added that Vargas's film takes immigration-reform debates out of their Washington context and "makes that story very pointedly human."