Diary of an Undocumented Immigrant
by Ramón “Tianguis” Pérez
Publication Date: March 31, 1991
The history of the United States in large part is the history of immigration, an immigration of working class peoples. Usually documented by sociologists, economists and other social scientists, the history becomes sanitized, devoid of the sweat, toil, and tears that make up the stories of real people. Here is an authentic, unexpected document from the very hands of a laborer whose trials have been even more burdensome due to his illegal status. Diary of an Undocumented Immigrant, the first book by Ramón “Tianguis” Pérez, is written in a style that makes the stories of Pérez and his compatriots even more poignant, more touching, and more absurd given the nature of American politics and immigration policy.
This is the true story—not the type of sensational report one might find in the news media—of an undocumented immigrant worker. Here is his odyssey through the United States, his endless trail of menial jobs, his indignities, his humor and his optimism. Perhaps this will shed light on the often obscured experiences of the intelligent, persevering, hard-working human beings we take for granted as they wait our tables, clean our houses, and pick our fruits and vegetables. This is their story.
“Pérez tells an emotionally heavy story with clear, detailed narration and a light sense of humor.”
“… a truly credible, and sometimes incredible, document.”
—The Dallas Morning News
“. . . a remarkably honest first-person account that belongs to the rich tradition of Latin American testimonial literature and our own oral history.”
—The Texas Observer
RAMÓN “TIANGUIS” PÉREZ is the author of Diario de un mojado (Arte Público Press, 2003), a memoir of his experiences as an illegal worker in the United States, which was translated into Diary of an Undocumented Immigrant (Arte Público Press, 1991) by Dick J. Reavis. Perez’s second work of nonfiction, Diary of a Guerilla (Arte Público Press, 1999), was also translated by Reavis. Pérez is a native of San Pablo Macuiltianguis, a Zapotec village in the Sierra Juárez region of the state of Oaxaca. In 1979, Pérez made the first of a series of trips which would take him to Texas, California and Oregon as an undocumented immigrant to the United States. Pérez earns his living as an ambulatory photographer.