The language and realities of the immigration debate have changed dramatically in the past year, with a realistic proposal to offer undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship emerging in Congress, and with the Associated Press putting the term "illegal immigrant" outside the linguistic pale.
Some of that change has been driven by an unexpected new force in the debate: The increasingly public emergence of undocumented people, led by tech-savvy, social media-oriented "Dreamers" — young Americans who lack legal status, but who can hardly be blamed, because they came with their parents. And a new video from the non-partisan campaign Define American, founded by former Washington Post and Huffington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas reflects on that shift — and on the power that immigrants, telling their own stories, has had on the debate.
"Undocumented immigrants — using the Internet and social media — are documenting their own realities and telling and sharing their stories, insisting to be see as human beings," said Vargas, who covered the emergence of some of those social platforms as a reporter.
"This video, I think, shows the undeniable impact that the 'coming out' of undocumented people have had in changing and framing the conversation about immigration. Individually and collectively, undocumented people like me, of all ages and all backgrounds, are 'coming out' to let people in," he said.
In the video, titled "Immigration Is Documented," the confusing definitions of immigration resolve on individuals' stories, told through YouTube videos, and the assertion that "immigration is stories...voices...identities."
Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed and is based in New York.
Contact Ben Smith at email@example.com.
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