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Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  6,849 ratings  ·  1,032 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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Kari Nonfiction. This book is about his experiences.

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A solid memoir by Jose Antonio Vargas, a prominent journalist and undocumented Filipino immigrant. The first part of this book serves as its most powerful, when Vargas shares what it felt like as a child to learn about his status and question his entire sense of belonging and security. He communicates the psychological homelessness of living as an undocumented immigrant so well, the confusion and fear and distrust. I also appreciate how he wrote about encountering the ignorance of white people a ...more
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
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
Mariah Roze
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book shows why we should not judge illegal immigrants, especially the children that were forced to come by their parents.

"Jose Antonio Vargas was only twelve years old when he was brought to the United States from the Philippines to live with his grandparents. He didn’t know it, but he was sent to the U.S. illegally.
When he applied for a learner’s permit, he learned the truth, and he spent the next almost twenty years keeping his immigration status a secret. Hiding in plain sight, he was w
Deacon Tom F
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

An Awesome Book! A Total Winner!!

Without a doubt, I thoroughly enjoyed the memoir, "Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen" by Jose Antonio Vargas. It is truly a splendid book that helped change the way I look the status of immigrants in the USA.

The main character/author, Jose is also the narrator. His writing is at times brutal and joyful but always honest to the core. The author weaves a myriad of feeling into this tale. Feelings like sorrow, apprehension, joy, fear expectations and
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
I don't even know how to start this review. Honestly, this memoir kind of broke my heart. I can't imagine living in the kind of hellish limbo that undocumented people must endure, and in Vargas' (and MANY others' cases) through no choice or fault of their own. They were children when they came here, and grew up here knowing no other life, often not even realizing that they are undocumented until much later.

I'm an American citizen, through no effort of my own. I was born here, because my parents
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Vargas’s story is urgent and I’m glad he has told it (and continues to tell it in other spaces). But this book — broken into vignettes that range from memoir to ethical plea to policy reportage — oscillated too much for me to really connect with it for any sustained amount of time. For one thing, the writing itself is inconsistent (and may have benefitted from better editing; there were several instances of glaring repeated phrasing). For another, his account is unsteady on its feet, and the vig ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this. Now.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is just what the title says it is....I like when that is the case. The author described his journey as an undocumented citizen in America. He was diligent in his efforts and used his ingenuity to get to where he thought he wanted to go. I admire that kind of persistence and passion. Both of those things came through loud and clear. For a memoir, this was well thought out. And he came across as kind and respectful.

Before I started this, I came to an agreement with myself that if this wa
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 pon
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
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 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank goodness for people like Jose, willing to openly share their stories and shake the system that tries to hold them back with the fear of persecution and deportation. He happens to be a gay man as well as undocumented so he references having two different coming-out moments, first when he declared the truth of his sexuality despite his Catholic family, and then again, after more than 20 years in America, he admitted his status to all of his closest friends and colleagues, no longer willing t ...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
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Dear America, is this what you really want? Do you even know what is happening in your name.”

In Dear America, Jose Vargas tells of his experience as an undocumented citizen. From the shock of finding out he was undocumented through no fault of his own to navigating the immigration system that left him with little to no viable choices to become a US citizen, Vargas tries to dispel most of the misinformation that is spread about immigrants. So take a walk in his shoes. You may just learn somethin
3.5 stars. I was inspired to read this book because I wanted to uncover details regarding our current immigration crisis. I did learn copious information from this beautifully written book, so I definitely think it is worth reading.

However, to my surprise, I found myself annoyed with Antonio Vargas many times in the book. He is critical of our current immigration situation, and I agree that there are a lot of issues…but he also doesn’t offer any solutions or advice. The media and Trump continue
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
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
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.
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.
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)
Justyna Burek
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I desperately need everyone I know to read this.
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
Leah K
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
"Besides being born at a certain place in a certain time, did you have to do anything?
If you wanted to have a career, if you wanted to have a life, if you wanted to exist as a human being, what would you have done?"

Sent to live (without the right papers, unbeknownst to him) in the US as a young child, Jose soon has to learn how to navigate the US as an "illegal". This is Jose's no holds-barred account. It's rough, it's tragic, and's not easy to just become "legal". And he's one of the l
Excellent. Everyone in the United States should be reading this book in light of what's going on in this country. ...more
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.
Ketaks Malaviya
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was spectacular -- in a world where we've normalized dehumanizing and denying empathy to undocumented immigrants, Vargas' voice is crucial. When I read his book, I thought to myself, this isn't just an American problem, the "homelessness" he describes as a Filipino immigrant in America is a ubiquitous sentiment experienced in all nations that deny validation to those most in need, whether it be Bangaldeshis in Bengal, Guatemalans in Mexico, Mexicans in America, and more. Vargas' testim ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Diversity in All ...: Dear America Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (February 2021) 3 8 Jan 17, 2021 05:54PM  
Undocumented status-immigration-family secrets 1 1 Jun 18, 2019 10:44AM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Hiding 1 5 Apr 25, 2019 01:50PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Passing 1 3 Apr 18, 2019 02:58PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Welcome! 1 9 Apr 03, 2019 12:18PM  
Dear America 1 4 Nov 06, 2018 07:41AM  

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