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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas will be speaking at Penn on December 8.

Credit: Courtesy of Creative Commons

Jose Antonio Vargas will speak on Dec. 8 as the Social Planning and Events Committee’s annual fall speaker, student groups announced Sunday night.

Vargas, a face of the the undocumented immigrant movement, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and creator of the Define American movement , which promotes discussion about immigrant rights. Vargas has been featured on the cover of TIME magazine and recently released a documentary about his life that aired on CNN in June .

Over the summer, Vargas made national headlines when he was detained at a Texas airport by U.S. Border Patrol officers after telling them he was in the country illegally . After public outcry, he was released from custody on his own recognizance.

Vargas’ speech at Penn comes at a time when the national spotlight is focused on immigrant rights. On Nov. 20, President Barack Obama proposed executive action that would protect nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation .

The organizers of the event hope that Vargas’ presence will emphasize the intersection of issues facing various minority communities, as Vargas represents the undocumented immigrant, Asian and LBGTQ communities. Director of Penn for Immigrant Rights Cristian Montoya , a College senior , said that the image of an undocumented immigrant is that of a Latino and that having an Asian speak could break down that stereotype.

Vargas’ speech was planned by SPEC Connaissance, the Penn Philippine Association, Penn for Immigrant Rights, Queer People of Color and Penn Queer and Asian .

This is the first time that SPEC Connaissance has partnered with other student groups to host its semesterly speaker, which SPEC Connaissance Co-Director Gabriel Jimenez said would send a message that SPEC is open to working with other groups.

SPEC tries to vary the types of speakers it brings to campus each semester, and past SPEC speakers include actor Matthew Perry , political activist Lilly Ledbetter and comedian Jason Sudeikis . However, Jimenez said that this event will differ from past events because “it’s not something that everyone agrees on.”

“It will disrupt campus discourse,” he said.

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