Rising from a poverty-filled childhood as an undocumented immigrant, Princeton University professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta will speak at the next University Forum about his experiences that are detailed in his book, “Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League,” on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Bennett Auditorium. All University Forum events are free to the public.
“Peralta is today a professor of Classics at Princeton University; however, he had a rocky start in life,” University Forum Director Andrew Haley said.
According to. Peralta’s Princeton biography, he is “Dominican by birth and New Yorker by upbringing.” When Peralta was four years old, his family arrived in the United States with a temporary tourist visa because his mother was having health complications. Their visas expired, and his father returned to the Dominican Republic. According to Haley, Peralta’s mother decided to remain in the United States taking on the homeless life with her sons because she knew they would have more opportunities in the United States as opposed to the Dominican Republic.
Living a double-life, Peralta had a continuous fear of being deported; however, he continued to excel throughout his schooling. According to Peralta’s biography, he went on to graduate from Princeton, Oxford and Stanford. Once he arrived at Princeton, he had to come face-to- face with the fact that he was an illegal immigrant, and he suffered many challenges- one being he was unable to apply for and receive financial aid.
Haley believes that if Peralta were to have gone through this situation when Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was in place, he could have received financial aid and other help to have a better life. Peralta is not yet an American citizen; however, he has been granted a work visa. He is currently waiting for his green card application.
“According to his book, Peralta’s home is in New York City,” Haley said. “For him, that’s what he knows is home. He grew up like every other kid in America. It’s difficult for him to imagine himself as anything other than an American Citizen.”
Haley is looking forward to hearing Peralta as he describes the experiences and challenges he has faced throughout his life.
“I am particularly excited that Dan-el is coming because this book is a common read of many but not all classes for our incoming students,” Haley said.