Leading newsweekly TIME is highlighting the situation of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Under the title WE ARE AMERICANS Just not legally, the cover of this week's issue features a photo of Philippine-born journalist and activist Jose Antonio Vargas surrounded by dozens of other immigrants who, like him, are in the United States without authorization.

Vargas, part of the Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2008 for its coverage of the previous year's shootings at Virginia Tech, revealed his undocumented status last year in an extensive article in The New York Times.

An Oregon driver's license he obtained thanks to an elaborate series of lies enabled him to join the Washington Post in 2003 as an intern.

In TIME, Vargas describes the reality of undocumented immigrants and his "Define American" campaign "to document the lives of the undocumented and harness the support of our allies around this very controversial and misunderstood issue."

"There are an estimated 11.5 million people like me in this country, human beings with stories as varied as America itself, yet lacking a legal claim to exist here," he writes.

Vargas' experience as an undocumented immigrant began at the age of 12 in 1993, when his mother took him to the Manila airport and introduced him to a strange man she said was his uncle.

The "uncle," in reality an immigrant smuggler, took the boy to Mountain View, California, to live with his grandparents. His mother told him she would join him in a few months but that promise went unfulfilled.

The young Vargas did not realize he was in the country illegally until he tried to obtain a driver's license four years later and was told by an agent at the California DMV that his green card was false. EFE