Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From A Homeless Shelter To The Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla PeraltaUndocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From A Homeless Shelter To The Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From A Homeless Shelter To The Ivy League

byDan-el Padilla Peralta

Paperback | June 7, 2016

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An undocumented immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class
 
Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he arrived in the United States legally with his family. Together they had traveled from Santo Domingo to seek medical care for his mother. Soon the family’s visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father eventually returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother decided to stay and make a better life for her bright sons in New York City.
 
Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. At another shelter he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country.
 
There, Dan-el thrived. Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he immersed himself in a world of books and rose to the top of his class.
 
From Collegiate, Dan-el went on to Princeton, where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement.
 
Undocumented is essential reading for the debate on immigration, but it is also an unforgettable tale of a passionate young scholar coming of age in two very different worlds.
 
Praise for Undocumented:
Undocumented is an impassioned counterargument to those who feel, as did some of Peralta’s more xenophobic classmates, that ‘illegals’ are good-for-nothings who take jobs from Americans and deserve to be kicked out of the country. No one who reads this story of a brilliant young man and his proud mother will automatically equate undocumented immigrant with idle parasite. That stereotype is something else we shouldn’t take for granted.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s story is as compulsively readable as a novel, an all-American tall tale that just happens to be true. From homeless shelter to Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford, through the grace not only of his own hard work but his mother’s discipline and care, he documents the America we should still aspire to be.” —Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation
Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Dan-el Padilla Peralta came to the United States with his family at the age of four. He received his BA summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he was chosen salutatorian of the class of 2006. He received his MPhil from the University of Oxford and his PhD in classics from Stanford Un...
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Title:Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From A Homeless Shelter To The Ivy LeagueFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.37 × 5.46 × 0.65 inPublished:June 7, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143109332

ISBN - 13:9780143109334

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Read from the Book

“Dan-el, the police just searched our apartment for drugs!”I took Mom’s call outside my school’s com­puter room, where I’d been proofreading the school newspaper.“What? What happened? Why did they think we had drugs? Did they say?”“Mi’jo, it’s going to be OK now. They made a big mistake. They had one cop who speaks a little Spanish explain to me what went wrong. They’d received a call from someone who told them dealers were storing drugs in an apartment in our building. The cops thought the informant said ‘Apartment 2B,’ so they came to our apartment—”“So they were there when you got home from church?”“They’d knocked down the door. They were searching every­thing. They searched my bedroom, the table where I have the candles for the santos, the living room, the kitchen, the bedrooms.”“Do they still think we’re involved with drug dealers?”“Ay, no, mi’jo. So they’re searching everywhere and I’m telling them over and over again that they’re wrong, that we’re a family of God and I’m just a single mother raising two children. I showed them all your books, I told them you go to a famous private school on full scholarship. But they wouldn’t believe anything I told them. They just kept asking where the drugs were. But finally, finally, thank you, Virgin Mary, one of the police officers took out his radio and spoke with the police officers standing outside our building. That’s when another cop came up to me and said they were extremely sorry. That it had all been a mistake, that they were supposed to be inves­tigating another apartment instead. And you should have seen them, Dan-el, how nice they were when they realized their mistake. They’re even going to pay to have our door fixed.”“Those sinvergüenza cops!”“Dan-el! They were doing their job, my son. It’s over now.”“Did they ask about our immi­gration status?”“Thank God no, my son. They didn’t ask me for papeles or anything like that.”I let out a small sigh of relief. Mom continued:“But I must have interrupted you, my son, you’re still at school working on the newspaper, right? Everything’s OK, I just wanted you to know what had happened. Get back to what you were doing and I’ll see you at home for dinner. Dios te bendiga.”I returned to the computer room. One of my friends asked me if anything was wrong.“Me?” I replied. “Nah, kid, I’m good.”

Bookclub Guide

In his memoir, Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, Dan-el Padilla Peralta presents a new version of the immigrant American dream—a young man not only struggling to succeed within his adopted country but struggling to succeed in spite of this country and the obstacles it systematically placed before him. Padilla Peralta’s journey is tender, funny, and inspiring, and it offers a personal and nuanced perspective on an issue that continues to spark debate among lawmakers, cable news pundits, and voters.   Dan-el arrived in New York from the Dominican Republic at the age of four, accompanying his parents on a visa while his mother sought medical care. Three years later, his father returned home but Mrs. Peralta stayed in the country on her expired visa, hoping for a better future in America for her sons. The cost of her decision was immense—undocumented and afraid of being discovered, Dan-el’s family fell into extreme poverty, first living in a homeless shelter, then in a dilapidated apartment in inner-city New York. Despite the crime and drug use that surrounded them, Dan-el and his brother thrived, thanks to their mother’s firm hand, a supportive church community, and the power of education. Dan-el was a voracious reader; his love of learning caught the eye of a volunteer art teacher, and soon, through hard work, scholarships, and connections, he was accepted to Collegiate, one of the best private schools in New York City. From there, doors opened to the finest universities—Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford—as Dan-el’s list of achievements continued to grow.   Padilla Peralta is a lively and likeable storyteller, as unafraid to admit his flaws as he is to champion his own successes. He strikes a conversational tone, spiking his narrative with slang and classical Latin quotations, and he is a loving and proud son who recognizes the enormous sacrifices his mother made. But while his passion for education leaps from the page, so does his growing frustration with the government’s policies. As he approached graduation, Dan-el realized that, despite his accolades, he faced an uncertain future as an undocumented immigrant. So he became adept at navigating his network of academic connections and influential advisers, and after a childhood spent hiding, Padilla Peralta made his undocumented status public, becoming a champion for change.   Throughout his life, Padilla Peralta experienced the extremes of life in the United States: from the confines of a New York City homeless shelter to the hallowed halls of academia, reaching the pinnacle of academic achievement while living in constant fear of deportation. He argues that his success was exceptional but the challenges he faced were not. Reflecting on his achievements and knowing how easily he could have fallen through the cracks, he makes clear that an untold number of undocumented children are being held back from achieving their potential as Americans—a loss for them and for the entire country.US

Editorial Reviews

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Undocumented is an impassioned counterargument to those who feel, as did some of Peralta’s more xenophobic classmates that “illegals” are good-for-nothings who take jobs from Americans and deserve to be kicked out of the country. No one who reads this story of a brilliant young man and his proud mother will automatically equate undocumented immigrant with idle parasite. That stereotype is something else we shouldn’t take for granted.”  New York Daily News:  “Undocumented is not meant to be a ‘whole hood-boy-in richy-rich-school saga.’ Peralta is merely determined to put another face to the undocumented millions, that of the son of an illegal who reached the highest pinnacle of privileged education.”Publishers Weekly: “Part memoir, part confessional, and part coming-of-age tale, Peralta’s story holds several truths on the road through loss, sacrifice, and achievement to gaining his slice of the American dream.”Kirkus Reviews: “An impassioned and honest memoir… Underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform.” Library Journal:  “Peralta’s simple and unadorned yet fast-moving narrative provides an insightful read for anyone passionate about immigration reform.” Booklist:  “Peralta offers an inspiring personal story of the hardships faced by undocumented families.”Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation:  “Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s story is as compulsively readable as a novel, an all-American tall tale that just happens to be true. From homeless shelter to Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford, through the grace not only of his own hard work but his mother’s discipline and care, he documents the America we should still aspire to be.”Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and A Wedding in Haiti: “Dan-el Padilla Peralta's Undocumented should be required reading for every congressman addressing legislation on immigration and for anyone who believes the American dream should not be a nightmare for those who are now faceless, homeless, and helpless in our midst.  It should be required reading in our schools, not just to educate the new leaders of America on these issues, but to inspire them to tell lively stories that captivate the imagination, inform the mind, and move the heart to act."