THE POWER OF SOCIAL CAPITAL. I suspect most readers of this site are not regular readers of The Wall Street Journal's Weekend Edition -- I know I'm not -- so I want to highly recommend the paper's Saturday front-pager "Illegal at Princeton" if you can find a copy or subscribe online. The tale of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a 21-year-old Princeton classics major whose parents illegally immigrated with him from the Dominican Republic in 1989 and who was discovered in a homeless shelter at the age of nine by volunteer Jeff Cowen, a descendent of the founder of the SG Cowen Wall Street brokerage, reading a biography of Napoleon in the corner, would put Horatio Alger himself to shame. Impressed by the boy's resilience and mind, Cowen eventually helped get Padilla into Collegiate, the Manhattan prep school he had himself attended; Padilla immediately became a class leader and went on to Princeton upon graduation. Having now been awarded a two-year scholarship to do graduate work at Oxford, Padilla is facing the possibility that if he leaves the US, where he is barred from working due to his legal status, he will be unable for the next 10 years to re-enter the country where he's lived since age four. It's an amazing tale, and the sort of thing that makes you really wonder about our present immigration system, and also how many other boys now living in squalor are full of a potential they'll never realize without the direct intervention of someone from a more powerful social milieu.
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