The Washington Post

Party Diary: Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas feted at reception for his new documentary

Former Washington Post journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas was back in the District on Thursday night to screen his second film, “Documented,” which chronicles his “coming out.” Vargas is an undocumented American, who immigrated to California from the Philippines without legal papers when he was 12 years old at the behest of his grandfather, a Filipino-born American citizen. “Documented,” which debuted on the festival circuit last summer, will be released in 10 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington and New York, this May.

The packed house in the Newseum auditorium, which included former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and former Washington Post publisher Donald Graham, watched the big screen as Vargas (a close friend of mine) disclosed his status in a New York Times magazine essay and then a year later called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ask if they had plans to deport him.

Afterwards a small crowd headed to the offices of in Chinatown to celebrate Vargas, who’s traveled across the country speaking out for the estimated 11 million undocumented Americans currently living in the U.S. who are often referred to as “illegal aliens”–a term he hopes to eradicate.

Elliot Spitzer, who attended both the screening and reception, with his girlfriend, political strategist Lis Smith, said, “Jose is an amazing guy. He should become the symbol of why we need change on this issue.”

Before the night’s close, Jake Brewer, director of external affairs at, toasted Vargas, who was too busy thanking his supporters to make a formal speech.

“Here’s to the power of a story to change everything,” said Brewer as the crowd raised their glasses.

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Helena Andrews-Dyer is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to



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