Dear America:
Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

Available wherever books are sold. Order here.

dearamericaThis is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves. This book is about what it means to not have a home.

After 25 years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom.

Young Readers’ Edition also available wherever books are sold. Order here.

dear america_hires

What does it mean to be an American? Is it about having a flag hang from your front porch? Being able to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower? Or is it defined by something more complicated—like where you were born and if you have the papers to prove it? For me, an immigrant from the Philippines, it’s a question I’ll never stop contemplating.

I was only twelve years old when I was brought to the United States to live with my grandparents. I had no idea that my family had done it illegally. It wasn’t until the day I applied for a learner’s permit that I discovered the shocking truth. For more than fourteen years I hid in plain sight, keeping my immigration status a secret while reporting and writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country.

But I reached a point where I could no longer hide my truth. Only after publicly admitting that I was undocumented could I begin to challenge what it means to be American when the country I’ve called home doesn’t consider me one of its own.

Upcoming Appearances


Praise for Dear America

This riveting, courageous memoir ought to be mandatory reading for every American. The pressing question that emerges from these pages isn’t whether Jose deserves to be a citizen but whether we, as a nation, deserve the bravery and generosity of spirit that he offers us with an open heart and mind.

– Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow

This is a book for our times. Read it, feel it at a gut level, and go beyond the noise of hate politics. Jose Antonio Vargas’s personal story is a firsthand view of what it’s like to be a child raised with anxiety as the norm. This is a book about America. I cried read- ing this book, realizing more fully what my parents endured.

– Amy Tan, New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and Where the Past Begins

Jose Antonio Vargas’s eloquent and emotional book bears witness to a basic truth: we should not be defined by our legal status, but by who we are. His voice is an important voice that needs to be heard by all Americans, whether they are Americans by birth or by choice.

– Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Option B and Lean In