Illegally Yours, a Memoir by Rafael Agustin


A funny and poignant memoir about how as a teenager, TV writer Rafael Agustin (Jane The Virgin) accidentally discovered he was undocumented and how that revelation turned everything he thought he knew about himself and his family upside down.

"What emerges is an inspiring and often hilarious story that echoes Agustin's mother's refrain: "Dreams should not have borders." Funny as he is, Agustin is a serious talent."

- Publishers Weekly

Published by Grand Central Publishing

HARDCOVER / ISBN-13: 9781538705940
USD: $29 / CAD: $37

The Book

Agustin family

Growing up, Rafa’s parents didn't want him to feel different because, as his mom told him:

"Dreams should not
have borders."

But when he tried to get his driver's license during his junior year of high school, his parents were forced to reveal his immigration status. Suddenly, the kid who modeled his entire high school career after American TV shows had no idea what to do — there was no episode of Saved by the Bell where Zack gets deported! While his parents were relieved to no longer live a lie in front of their son, Rafa found himself completely unraveling in the face of his uncertain future.

Illegally Yours is a heartwarming, comical look at how this struggling Ecuadorian immigrant family bonded together to navigate Rafa's school life, his parents' work lives, and their shared secret life as undocumented Americans, determined to make the best of their always turbulent and sometimes dangerous American existence. From using the Ricky Martin/Jennifer Lopez “Latin Explosion” to his social advantage in the ‘90s to how his parents—doctors in their home country of Ecuador—were reduced to working menial jobs in the US, the family's secret became their struggle, and their struggle became their hustle. An alternatingly hilarious and touching exploration of belonging and identity, Illegally Yours revolves around one very simple question:

What does it mean
to be American?

Rafael Agustin

The Author

Rafael Agustin was a writer on the award-winning The CW show Jane The Virgin. He is a Sundance Fellow for his TV family comedy Illegal, based on his life as a formerly undocumented American. Agustin co-created and co-starred in the national touring, award-winning autobiographical comedy N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk, which received acclaim from the LA Times, New York Times, and Denver Post, and won awards for its advancement of social justice in the arts. He serves as CEO of the Latino Film Institute (LFI), where he oversees the Youth Cinema Project, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF), and LatinX in Animation. In 2018, LA Weekly named Agustin one of the fifty most essential people in Los Angeles. In 2021, Agustin was appointed to the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress. Agustin received his BA and MA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television and is an alumnus of the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase.

Early Praise For
Illegally Yours

"In this poignant memoir, Rafael Agustin welcomes us into his life, his home, and his heart. Fluctuating between witty humor and tender vulnerability, he shows us how he became the amazing human being that he is today. This book is equal parts an act of rebellion and an act of celebration—rebellion against a society that thinks immigrants should keep our stories quiet instead of sharing them with the world, and a celebration of the resilience of the immigrant spirit."

 - Reyna Grande
Bestselling author of The Distance Between Us

"You cannot change someone’s mind before first changing their heart. Rafael Agustin's Illegally Yours does that with one of the most divisive issues in America today: immigration."

- Alyssa Milano
Activist, actor, producer, and bestselling author of HOPE

"You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be inspired. You’ll feel SEEN. To those who have been undocumented, an immigrant, a first-generation student, you will relate to this book. Rafael shares his life experiences, sometimes difficult and deeply personal, through a heartfelt and comedic lens.”

- Dr. Ana-Christina Ramon
Co-author of UCLA's Hollywood Diversity Report

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