Born in Brooklyn, NY, but raised in Puerto Rico, Melendez dropped out of school after ninth grade, a decision he calls his worst mistake. He moved to the United States at 18 and began work in Delaware as a migrant worker, picking fruit.
"I migrated to the United States to make a better life," he said. "I was in search of the American dream, instead, unfortunately, I lived the American nightmare."
Others found it did no harm to Melendez's story to give a more complete picture. Our Herald's "American Dream" angle required omitting Melendez's prior bank robbery conviction.