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Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  264 Ratings  ·  57 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
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
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
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
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?
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Liz Fedor
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
The beginning was fine but then it became quite whiny.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-books
I picked up this ARC and I could not put it down. I plan on getting my thoughts down to post a full review on my blog. This books comes out tomorrow and I can't wait to get a copy.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Advanced Reader’s Copy received from Baker & Taylor.

“Dear America” is the heart-wrenching biography of a man struggling to identify himself as an American citizen when everything is working against him. Vargas’ journey illustrates just how difficult the path to citizenship can be, even for someone as well-connected as himself.

“Why don’t you just become legal?” It’s the question at the heart of this book because it’s the muddiest gray area for those who are stuck in legal limbo like Vargas.
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.
John Garvin
A good book on the problem that America has with its immigration policy. I did not agree with everything in the book, but it did teach me a lot that I didn't know about immigration.

One of the big complaints I have is not with the final version of this book. I have a galley copy. I understand that it is an uncorrected proof of the book. But I have read a lot of galleys, and this one has a ridiculous amount of misspellings, wrong words, or incorrect punctuation. I know I'm not perfect. This post
Erica Lynn
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I devpured this book. Its a beautiful reveal of the true problem with immigration. And I was surprised at how much I really didn't know.

Growing up and living in Vermont, as a white natural born citizen, the most exposure I had to the immigration issue was through the migrant farmers and refugee population. After Trump was elected. I slowly saw the familiar faces of the seasonal workers in my hometown start to dwindle. Even in a progressive place like Vermont, I found myself and my neighbors div
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sad and incredibly infuriating (as I should've known) and a fascinating perspective. I felt the switch from hiding to being ready to reveal came a little too suddenly without quite explaining how he got there, but other than that, an excellent, fast, important read.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Everyone must read this when it comes out in August or September.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A story that must be told in days like these. A story so much like many that have similar experiences.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
"To pass as an American, I always has to question the law. Not just to break it, not just circumvent it, but question it. I had to interrogate how laws are created, how illegality must be seen through the prism of who is defining what is legal for whom. I had to realize that throughout American history, legality has always been a construct of power."

A thoughtful and needed look at what it means to be undocumented and the experience that millions of undocumented Americans now face. I appreciated
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a frustrating read. It was compelling, very well written, and very accessible, but I spent the whole time just mad as hell for Vargas. Much like his NY Times piece, he brings a much-needed human element to the issue of undocumented immigration. He also cites the history and many laws we have put in place that actually created this issue, and why it's not a simple process to "get legal."

It is a necessary, important read -- not just to understand what he and other undocumented people hav
Jose Antonio Vargas was born in the Philippines and came to America when he was twelve. When he tried to get his driver’s license at sixteen, he learned that his green card was fake. He was in the US illegally, but chose to keep his status hidden.

It was never easy keeping his secrets, however. Jose hated the hiding and the lying. Eventually, he would publicly reveal himself as undocumented.

While in high school, Jose discovered journalism. He has worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philad
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you did not believe that the immigration laws in the US urgently need reform, you will after reading this account of a Filipino man who entered this country at the age of 12, sent on a plane (to his grandparents in California) by his mother, thinking she would follow soon. Years later, she remains in the Philippines and her son has become an award-winning American journalist and more recently, a reluctant advocate for those like himself who are existing in a legal limbo. This is a candid and ...more
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every documented American
"Dear America, is this what you really want? Do you even know what is happening in your name?"

Most of us don't know what is happening in our name.

This gorgeously written memoir is an important baby step towards Americans learning about our current deeply broken immigration system and the effects it has on our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and - in Jose's case - award-winning journalists. This book is a critical inspiration to getting us asking better questions about American immigration hist
Cindy Leighton
Excellent primer for anyone who still doesn't understand "why they don't just come in legally" or "why they just don't fill out the paperwork to become legal". Jose Antonio Vargas was sent by his mother from the Philippines to the US when he was a teenager. He didn't know his documents were bought and doctored. There is no legal path for him to remain in the US where he has spent the past 25 years, paying taxes, earning a Pulitzer Prize as a respected journalist.

The strongest parts of the memoir
Sent to the U.S. from the Philippines at the age of 12 to live with his grandparents, and not learning he was undocumented until he tried to get a driver’s license at 16, Jose Antonio Vargas spent many years, as he puts it, “lying, passing, and hiding.”

After becoming a successful journalist, but stifled by his limited options to travel, Vargas decided to go public about his status. When he first did so, via an editorial in the NYT in 2011, I couldn’t decide if he was incredibly courageous or foo
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“He lives in New Jersey, right outside of Trenton. He said he was forty-eight, and he had just gotten laid off from his job at an insurance company, where he had worked for almost a decade. He's divorced with two kids, both teenagers. After about fifteen minutes of conversation, as we made our way into the baggage claim area, he felt the need to point out that he voted Obama twice. I told him Obama had deported more immigrants than any other modern president, a fact that seemed to surprise him.” 0 likes
“What [undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children] did qualify for, according to human rights experts, was refugee status -- something President Obama was careful not to give them.” 0 likes
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