“Undocumented” might be the most politically charged word in the English language today. It can generate emotions that range from sympathy to anger, from understanding to resentment.

It is also the title of a memoir by author Dan-el Padilla Peralta, who will speak April 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Neumann University’s Meagher Theatre about his experience as an undocumented immigrant in America. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Padilla was 4 years old when he arrived with his parents in New York City on travel visas. When the visas expired, his father returned to Santo Domingo but his mother stayed in New York, hoping to build a better life for her two sons.


While Padilla was in elementary school, his family spent two years in homeless shelters. Thanks to a library and mentoring from a young shelter volunteer, his interest in learning blossomed until he was accepted with a full scholarship to an elite private school in Manhattan. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Princeton, a master’s degree at Oxford and a Ph.D. at Stanford.

At the end of “Undocumented,” he writes, “As much as I love America, I’m angry with it, too. Every single day, the ambitions and aptitudes of the undocumented millions are trivialized and marginalized by an immigration policy lacking in rationality and justice.”

After his presentation, Padilla will take questions from the audience and sign copies of his book.