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Textproduktion: Comment/Letter "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant" by J.A. Vargas


Hinweis: Die Prozentangaben in Klammern zeigen die Gewichtung der einzelnen Aufgaben.

Choose one of the following tasks:

“[…] my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own” (l. 52/53).
Discuss to what extent Jose Antonio Vargas‘ experiences are typical of migrants in the USA.  (35%)                                                                                                                                                  


Compare Jose Antonio Vargas’ process of integration to that of a character from literature or film who also has to struggle for acceptance. Assess the way they cope.  (35%)


Write a letter to the editor in which you assess to what extent the author’s decision to publish his experiences might affect the acceptance of migrants in a multicultural society. Address your letter to:  

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times

620 Eighth Avenue
New York NY, 10018



Jose Antonio Vargas is one of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the USA. But what makes him that special? Are his experiences typical of migrants in the USA?

On the one hand, Vargas is a typical migrant and he does not differ from the majority of people coming to America. He is searching for a better life (l.1) and gets through with a fake green card (l.15). The lack of proper documents is a permanent threat for him which is why he lives in fear, distrust and secrecy (ll.31-36).

On the other hand, Vargas’ life consists of several untypical experiences. His grandparents had already been living in America when he arrived there which made it possible for him to have a good start (ll.2f.). He loved his new life (l.5) and had only minor language problems (ll.5-7). Furthermore, unlike most of the other 11 million undocumented immigrants, he attended school (l.4) and college (l.28) and today he legally works as a journalist (ll.28f.).
Another untypical experience for him was when the clerk at the D.M.V. discovered his fake green card but did not report him to the police, which actually was to be expected (ll.15f.).
It can be said that Vargas tries to pursue the American Dream: working hard and becoming rich and successful, which, in his case, also means gaining the American citizenship (ll.25f.). He already fully identifies with the American culture and considers himself an American (ll.41f.), which is not typical for migrants, who usually keep their original cultural identity.

To sum things up, Vargas is rather an untypical migrant, which is supported by the fact that he considered his life as so extraordinary that he decided to write an article about himself and to publish it in the New York Times.

(308 words)


Jose Antonio Vargas and John from the novel “Brave New World” both try to integrate into a foreign society in a similar way but with a very different outcome. So what is the best approach for a successful integration?

Vargas is a Filipino immigrant in the USA and John is an outcast who has lived in a reservation in the wilderness before he arrives in a dystopian version of London. They both have to get to know the core values of their new society. Vargas learns English (ll.5f.) and attends school (l.4; ll.27f.) whereas John, who already speaks perfect English, reads Shakespeare’s work to find out on which doctrine the totalitarian state is based on.

Both characters become famous which also adds to a successful process of integration. Vargas works hard and becomes a journalist (ll.25-28). John’s fame is based on his origin as everyone wants to meet “The Savage” when his presence is made public.

Furthermore, both of them hide their origin in order not to be rejected by others. Vargas stashes his family photos in a box when his friends visit him (ll.34f.) and John, who is looking for true love, does not show his feelings to his beloved Lenina, who wants only casual sex as it is the custom in the totalitarian state.

It can be said that Vargas successfully integrates into society by working hard and identifying with his new nationality (ll.41f.) but John, in the end, rejects the values forced on him, seeks solitude and commits suicide.

As a conclusion, Jose Antonio Vargas and John are two perfect examples of how to try to integrate into a foreign society. It is obvious that this cannot be achieved with rejection and isolation but with open-mindedness and hard work.

(298 words)


                                                                                                      Lindenstr. 15
                                                                                                      86150 Augsburg


Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York NY, 10018


15 August 2014


Comment on the article “My life as an undocumented immigrant”

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing in response to the article “My life as an undocumented immigrant” by Jose Antonio Vargas which was published in The New York Times on 22 June 2011 and I would like to give you my opinion on how it might affect the acceptance of migrants in a multicultural society.

I think that the fact of Vargas having been able to live that long in the USA without proper documents could lead to stricter controls of migrants and eventually many of them might be exposed and sent back to their home countries. Furthermore, Vargas mentions strawberry pickers and babysitters as typical jobs for migrants which confirms negative stereotypes towards them. In my opinion, these two aspects are not very supportive of the migrants’ acceptance in the USA.

Although, Vargas’ article also succeeds in raising the people’s awareness for migrants and the problems they are dealing with, such as fear, isolation and secrecy. Thus, he supports openness and the willingness to help in the Americans’ minds which is a major step towards integration and acceptance. Moreover, his positive experiences encourage other migrants and show them what can be achieved by working hard and identifying with a foreign culture.

To sum things up, Vargas is a perfect example of successful integration and his mainly positive experiences contribute to migrants being accepted in society.


Max Mustermann, Augsburg

(263 words)

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