In Spring 2010, four undocumented students trekked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington to press passage of the Dream Act, a bill that would offer a path to permanent residency for immigrants who came to the country as minors and achieved certain educational accomplishments. Moved by their courage, Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who was part of the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize winning team for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, revealed that he, too, was an undocumented immigrant in an essay published by the New York Times Magazine last June.
A year later, Vargas finds that immigration in America has seen little progress, as he writes in this week’s TIME cover story. On the cover, photographed by Gian Paul Lozza, Vargas stands before 35 other undocumented immigrants living across the country. “They’re living in America—but only in the shadows,” Lozza says. “They’re very much in the dark.”
It was important for TIME’s photo editors to show just how many cultures are represented by America’s undocumented immigrants. “They come from so many different countries, religions and backgrounds,” Lozza says. “We wanted to bring that diversity to the light. This is not just a problem for Latinos, as we hear about often, but for every culture from around the world.”
It was a poignant topic for Swiss-born Lozza. “For me it was fun to see how motivated the kids were, and how much they wanted to learn,” he says. “They have dreams of being teachers, doctors, lawyers—it was fascinating that they all want to do something for other people.”
Read more on Jose Antonio Vargas in this week’s issue of TIME.
Gian Paul Lozza is a photographer based in Zurich. See more of his work here.