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Life has been pretty complicated for Jose Antonio Vargas--that happens when you've spent your life lying about your immigration status. What came easier, it seems, was the very complicated art of writing, which Vargas tells Buzzfeed's Michael Hastings he learned studying The New Yorker. Vargas's status as an illegal immigrant and how he came out, first in the pages of The New York Times Magazine and more recently on the cover of Time, has made him a polarizing figure in the discussion around immigration reform. But no matter how you may feel about Vargas's immigration status, his résumé, peppered with work for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker and punctuated with a Pulitzer Prize for covering the Virginia Tech massacre, is impressive. And being the journalism nerds that we are, we were drawn to one detail in Hastings's profile:

For Vargas, getting published in the New Yorker felt like reaching the pinnacle of journalism. “I literally learned how to write by reading and memorizing the New Yorker,” he says. “That’s how I learned how to write. That’s how I learned how to use semicolons, because of the New Yorker — you know, just like, encountering them there. I remember looking at them and going, what is this, a comma missing a period?” 

Head on over to Buzzfeed for the full profile, in which you'll also learn what Vargas listens to while writing (spoiler: it's Beyoncé).

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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