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Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  821 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, called “the most famous undocumented immigrant in America,” tackles one of the defining issues of our time in this explosive and deeply personal call to arms.

“This is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book––at its core––is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditio
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Dey Street Books
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Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is at its best when it is an honest memoir, which is about 2/3rds of the book. He talks about the tensions in his Phillipino family between the "legal" and the "illegal" and then the shock when he finds out his greencard is fake. I wish people could understand when they talk about "illegals" that these are humans just like them.

The later portion of the book was still good, but I wished he would stay with his own story as opposed to trying to respond to all his critics. Apparently, a l
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would recommend this book to everyone for insight into our current immigration crisis. Vargas's name was vaguely familiar to me as a journalist when I first saw notices about this book's upcoming publication. He "outed" himself as undocumented several years ago through a dramatic NYT article in 2011; he wrote a cover story on undocumented immigrants (including himself) in 2012.
But book isn't about legalities or politics, it is Vargas's own story. His mother put him on a plane as a child to joi
Brad Bowman
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utilizing his own experience, Vargas imbues discussions of displacement, residency, and identity with the utmost humanity. Most poignant are his reflections on his own belonging. “Trading a private life that was in limbo for a public life that is still in limbo...” (184) Vargas is most insightful when he’s looking inward and sharing his emotions of loss, losing, and being lost in his own American story.

“Dear America” questions as much as it tries to answer, but importantly it’s a necessary narra
Author Dawnette Brenner
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finished this one in two days! I couldn’t put it down. It was as if my mother were reading to me about her life, supporting all people. She truly did, marching with Cesar Chavez, working on farms, so did I. We were never “too good” as ‘white people!’

This book though; amazing, horrific and brought me to tears.

We must do something to end ALL FORMS of discrimination!

This week I’ve spoken with several guests on my show about mental health & illness. While reading #Dearamerica I couldn’t help but
Shirley Freeman
Here's another book every American should read. Not because it will cause us all to be of one mind concerning immigration but because it will give us all a starting point for civil discourse. It is the story of one real person behind the statistics. Many folks who are more in tune with current culture will know who Jose Antonio Vargas is but I had never heard of him. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who discovered he was undocumented when he went to apply for a driver's license at age 16 ...more
I wanted to keep repeating: there is no line.

I wanted to scream over and over again: THERE IS NO LINE! THERE IS NO LINE! THERE IS NO LINE! (p. 154)

I sit here writing this the day after President Trump stated he wants to get rid of birthright citizenship, in which babies born on US soil are then considered citizens, regardless of the status of their parents. I sit here writing there as a caravan of migrants from central America are making their way through Mexico, headed to the US border, and dec
Megan Sanks
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved how Vargas wrote this book and the pacing of the chapters.

Also, I definitely cried during a particular airport scene.
Megan Lawson
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Every single person in America should read this book. Jose Antonio Vargas tells his story, his experiences, his how, and his why of being an undocumented citizen of the United States.

If you want to change opinions, if you want to help people understand other cultures, other lives, the best way is through stories and personal connections. Obviously, I don't know Vargas personally but I have taught many students who have had similar experiences.

What would you do if you suddenly found out at 16 th
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tough but necessary read. There's so much I didn't know about immigration and this shines light on some of that. For a nation made of immigrants, the US is currently making it difficult to continue to be such a nation. Can you imagine growing up and finding out you're here illegally and not having any recourse to really change that?
Brian Kovesci
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book needs to be read.

"There comes a moment in each of our lives when we must confront the central truth in order for life to go on." (p. 110)
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating story of an undocumented immigrant, one who came as a child, not even knowing his paperwork was fake until he tried to apply for a driver's license. A prize-winning journalist, Vargas is a good storyteller, and it is both enjoyable and educational reading, seeing how our country and our culture appear to an outsider who is trying to fit in. Mostly it is his own story, but he also discusses immigration issues, including his frustration at being told to "get in line" to become a citi ...more
Justyna Burek
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I desperately need everyone I know to read this.
After all, if Americans could come and claim the Philippines, why can’t Filipinos move to America?

This probably wouldn't have hit me as hard as it did if Vargas wasn't Filipino, but since he is, I saw so many of my loved ones in his story, from my mother and my countless aunties who did everything they could to get here to my family back in the Philippines who will never be allowed to come. This was the most difficult book I've ever read and I cried the whole time but it was 100% worth it.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book.

I grew up in El Paso, Texas, so "border issues" are woven into my personal history. That's why I shudder that fear-mongering is taking place today over immigration issues. I have known, loved and worked closely with DACA individuals--some of the finest people America is lucky to have. As Jose says, our immigration system is not "broken." It is exactly what our country has demanded for decades--cheap labor while avoiding the homelessness of its laborers.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book 114. Dear America by @joseiswriting. This familiar story is heartbreaking. Mixed status families is all too familiar to me. Hearing how someone offered to marry him was also a very familiar moment. So many people fail to understand how hard it is to become a citizen. How there is no line to get in for children who were brought here and did not know what was going on. How it is a privilege to never have to worry about your citizenship. Thank you Jose for sharing your story.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
from my review submitted to Indie Next:
The first thing you should know about this book is that it is not arsenal for current political debate. It is coincidentally a very timely memoir of a young Filipino boy sent to America as a child who remains unaware of his legal status until he became a teenager and attempted to get a driver's license. As he ages and continues to wrestle with what it means to be simultaneously American yet un-American, Vargas challenges the reader to "Define American" and
Excellent. Everyone in the United States should be reading this book in light of what's going on in this country.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone who is a resident of the U.S., anyone interested in the U.S, and anyone who wants to claim some sense of understanding of the U.S.'s political stance on immigration. Vargas provides a new perspective as an undocumented Filipino immigrant and as a member of the LGBTQA community.
Soo Yen
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Vargas came to the US from the Philippines when he was 12, sent here by his mother to live with his grandparents and uncle. When he was 16, he found out that he was here illegally. Dear America is his account of what it has meant to have a country that you view as your home, where you are not legally allowed to live. He is a talented writer and despite numerous obstacles, he has built a career as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. He has paid taxes and paid into social security the entire time ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jose Antonio Vargas's story of "coming out" as undocumented is heartbreaking not only because of his personal experience but because of our collective unwillingness to find solutions that will help not only him but millions of others who have come here seeking opportunity and sometimes escaping unspeakable horror.

I learned a lot from this book about how the immigration system actually works--or doesn't. We, as a society, don't do well with shades-of-gray issues, or problems with no easy solutio
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
**I received an ARC of this book from my local bookstore in exchange for a review.**

Jose Antonio Vargas, author of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was born in the Philippines. At age 12 his mother sent him to the United States to live with her parents. At sixteen Vargas discovers that his papers are fake. Still, decades later at the writing of this book, Vargas is still here illegally.

In Dear America, Vargas chronicles his journey from leaving the Philippines at the age of 12 to
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The best--and most harrowing--parts of this book were the most personal bits. Vargas writes matter-of-factly about life as an undocumented citizen, and it's all the ordinary things that undocumented people simply cannot take for granted that drives home how deep and far-reaching and life-threatening this country's problems with immigration are. It brings into stark relief just how terrifying and complicated life can be for people who live, work, and raise families in this country, but who the go ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If nothing else this remarkable and well written memoir serve to put a human face on the immigration issue in our nation. It is a quick and insightful read, that caused me to pause along the way and think hard about what it means to be an citizen of America. We are after all save for the Native Americans, and African Americans--- a country made up of immigrants. Some of have been fortunate enough to have our path to citizenship given to us by nature of our birth doing nothing to earn it. our pat ...more
3.5 stars, rounded down because the last portion feels like Vargas lost his way and tried to be everything for everyone.

His story is frustrating and sad and infuriating and you dont know whether to empathize with him (he had no hand in his arrival or his false papers) or excoriate him for all the lies.

At the same time, it highlights the fact that the U.S. immigration system put him in this limbo once he found out. He's condemned to be a cipher in his own world.

Worth a read and discussion.
Ryan Mishap
A beautiful and searing memoir, confessional, and demand that reveals the pain caused by being undocumented; from being "othered" and treated as an outsider, an invader, as not a real American.

Absolutely necessary for everyone to read--I'm sad that those in this country who hate or disparage immigrants probably don't read books, and, if they do, they probably won't read this one.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
A very humanizing look at immigration and the US, as well as the psychological effects of living in fear. In terms of writing, some of the chapters were better than others, however I would recommend this to anyone.
Marsha Dawson
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very readable book about immigration and the life of an undocumented immigrant. Coming to the U.S. at 12 years old from the Philippines Vargas tells how he learned to fit in be American. Very honest book.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very well written and insightful book that’s just hard to put down. I haven’t read such a powerful book since I Am Malala and The Kite Runner. I highly recommend to anyone who wants to know more about immigration issues in the USA.
Fred Slusher
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone in America should read this book!
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Dear America 1 1 Nov 06, 2018 04:41PM  
“White as the default, white as the center, white as the norm, is the central part of the master narrative. The centrality of whiteness—how it constructed white versus black, legal versus illegal—hurts not only people of color who aren’t white but also white people who can’t carry the burden of what they’ve constructed.” 1 likes
“What we're doing - waving a "Keep Out!" flag at the Mexican border while holding up a Help Wanted sign a hundred yards in - is deliberate. Spending billions building fences and walls, locking people up like livestock, deporting people to keep the people we don't want out, tearing families apart, breaking spirits - all of that serves a purpose.” 1 likes
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