For an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American Dream? Julissa Arce shares her story in a riveting memoir.
When she was 11 years old Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus began her underground existence, a decades long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure.After the Texas Dream Act made a college degree possible, Julissa’s top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full time position–one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a Vice President, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her “underground” secret. In telling her personal story of separation, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce shifts the immigrant conversation, and changes the perception of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. (via Goodreads)
“Immigrants do not come to the United States to take anything away from Americans. We come to America to give our sweat, blood, and tears to pursue our dreams.”
Julissa Arce is a writer, speaker, and social justice advocate and author of the forthcoming book, MY (UNDERGOUND) AMERICAN DREAM (Hachette Book Group, September 2016). She made national and international headlines when she revealed that she had achieved the American Dream of wealth and status while undocumented. She is the co-founder and chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a scholarship fund for immigrant students regardless of their immigration status. She is also on the board of directors of the National Immigration Law Center and the national board of directors of CollegeSpring. Prior to becoming an advocate she built a successful career on Wall Street as a vice president at Goldman Sachs and a director at Merrill Lynch. Julissa now uses her inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration. Read her full biography here.
2 thoughts on “Review:: My (Underground) American Dream by Julissa Arce”
Thank you for your reviews and thoughts! This memoir sounds very compelling. I love reading stories of success, especially ones where the odds are really stacked up against a person.
The only hesitation I have with these types of stories is the danger of it becoming the single story of marginalized groups, further marginalizing those folks not ‘living up to the standard’ – like a type of the Model Minority Myth. I can see how readers may misconstrue this memoir as, “well she did it, why can’t all of you others do it too?” Further perpetuating some stereotypes.
I digress, and I will take your recommendation and add it to my TBR. We all need some uplifting stories in our life and I am happy to see one where her identity is a part of her strength and success and not about her oppression and suffering!
I absolutely agree with you – part of the reason I liked this memoir is because it didn’t perpetuate the stereotype of the Mexican farmer’s family, but I also wouldn’t want this to be another part of a stereotype.