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June 27th, 2014
05:33 PM ET

Vargas: Undocumented and hiding in plain sight

Editor's note: Jose Antonio Vargas, the founder of Define American, is the writer and director of "Documented," airing on CNN on Sunday, June 29, at 9 p.m. ET. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) - "What do you want to do with me? What do you want to do with us? How do you define American?"

On behalf of 11 million undocumented immigrants like me - many of us Americans in all but papers - I asked those questions to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 2013, nearly two years after I publicly outed myself as an undocumented immigrant in The New York Times Magazine.

Against the advice of lawyers, I wrote, in detail, what I had to do to live and survive in America: hide in plain sight as I worked as a journalist for more than a decade; lie on government forms to get jobs while paying taxes and contributing to Social Security(undocumented workers provide billions in both); grow estranged from my mother in the Philippines who put me on a plane to the United States in 1993. In outing myself, I risked everything and prepared myself for anything.

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