A new campaign was launched today (July 1) urging the 11.7 million undocumented individuals living in the United States to come out.
Coming from Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winner and director of MTV's upcoming documentary "White People," and his organization Define American, this campaign takes a cue from the history of the LGBTQ movement and Harvey Milk's 1978 speech urging members of the community to "come out" to their friends, family, co-workers and loved-ones: To educate, fight stigma and "destroy the myths once and for all" -- this time about undocumented immigrants.
"I've come out twice in my life - the first, as a teenager, to tell my classmates that I am gay; the second, as an adult, to tell the country that I grew up in that I'm an undocumented American," Vargas said. "While both were risky in their own ways, they ultimately each resulted in a kind of personal liberation that changes the perceptions of my friends, coworkers, and those close to me. We come out to let people in.”
The campaign highlights the stories and experiences of a diverse group of people who have lived, worked and built lives as Americans — whether as undocumented or formerly undocumented individuals. The site's goal is get conversations started about immigration policies in the United States and what it really means to be an American.
Julissa Arce, who gained American citizenship in August of 2014, shared her story with the project after living "in fear and in the shadows for fifteen years."
"I did it for my friends and I did it for my family, but most importantly, I did it for myself," Arce said in her video. "I couldn't be ashamed of who I am anymore. I'm proud of who I am and where I came from and of the sacrifices my parents had to make in order for me to be who I am today. It was really scary to share my story but the response has been amazing... People have told me that I have given them a voice."
Arce urged others to lend their voices and join in the conversation: To remind politicians and the American people that "immigration is about immigrants."
The website also includes legal resources and information from the National Immigration Law Center to assist in protecting the people who have made the choice to come out. You can share your own experiences (or amplify the cause as an ally) by using the hashtag #OutFor or the Define American site.
For More Information About The Campaign Visit DefineAmerican.com