Vargas was born in the Philippines and when he was twelve years old his mother sent him to the United States to live with her parents. While applying for a driver’s permit, he found out his papers were fake. More than two decades later, he is still here illegally, with no clear path to American citizenship. To some people, he is the “most famous illegal” in America. But for Jose, he is only one of an estimated 11 million human beings whose uncertain fate is under threat in a country he calls home.
Dear America 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 traditional sense, but about the unsettled, unmoored psychological state in which undocumented immigrants find themselves. 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 what it means to not have a home.
This event includes a signing with books for sale. Doors will open at 6 pm to offer the opportunity to connect with community agencies and representatives who will be staffing information tables in the lobby.
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and theatrical producer. A leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, he founded the non-profit media and culture organization Define American, named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company. His best-selling memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was published by HarperCollins in 2018. Most recently, he co-produced Heidi Schreck’s acclaimed play What the Constitution Means to Me, which opened on Broadway in spring 2019.
This event is part of the 2020 Washtenaw Read. The Washtenaw Reads program is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book. Participating libraries include Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Saline, and Ypsilanti. For more information about Washtenaw Reads and previous years’ reads, go to wread.org.