NEW YORK – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas' documentary about his life and journey as an undocumented immigrant in America is now gaining momentum.
After a preview screening and panel discussion at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York last week, "Documented" will be screening in 10 US cities before its TV premiere on CNN this summer.
The former Washington Post reporter said the documentary is about humanizing the issue of the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants in the US. It's a story of a Filipino family's struggle after being separated by the broken US immigration system.
"We're premiering here in New York for a week, then we're going to be in LA, we're going to Phoenix, San Diego, Chicago, Denver, and hopefully the Filipino communities in those areas, you know, really show up. As you know, the film, a third of it is in Tagalog," Vargas said.
While the "Documented" US tour is in full swing, the US immigration overhaul has been stalled in Congress.
President Obama, whom Vargas often refers to as the "Deporter-in-Chief," has promised to pass a comprehensive immigration reform in 2014.
But Vargas believes that promise may not happen at all this year.
"It would be intellectually dishonest for me to say that President Obama is the only person to blame. You know, at the end of the day you have a dysfunctional Congress that doesn't want to do anything," Vargas said.
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that on a state level, there may be some other ways to provide the undocumented some forms of relief while immigration reform is stalled.
Mark-Viverito said, "Because of that lack of movement and commitment to get something done at the federal level, we're seeing states and we're seeing municipalities take it upon themselves to see what they can do. We're seeing states pass the Dream Act — local State Dream Act."
On a personal level, after being separated from his mother for over 20 years, Vargas had only one big birthday wish this year.
"To have a green card and to have any kind of card you know," Vargas said. "But there's one wish: That I get to see my mom and I'm trying everything I can to make that a reality before the year is over."
"Documented" premieres in New York at the City Cinemas Village East on May 2 through May 8.