In the year since, Rado has won small victories, including having his deportation case re-opened and subsequently receiving a work permit two months ago. He's also enrolled in college, once again, learning how to build websites. Also, the film based on his life is being developed for a feature film.
Still, his future remains uncertain, as his case won't make it to a judge until July 2016.
By phone on Monday, Rado, now 32, said he looks back on the past year with gratitude for all the people who have tried to help him. "I thank Lee and his supporters. I'm very thankful and try to make the best out of it. It could have been worse, I could have been sent back home," he said.
Rado left war-torn Albania at 16. In America, he struggled to survive and find work without a Social Security number, taking jobs as a go-go dancer at a gay bar in the East Village.
Percy spent much of the Hamptons film festival in 2012 trying to drum up support for Rado. While immigration is always a hot button topic on Long Island, Percy said, "Among the festival-goers and organizers and the local residents who were attending the festival, I got about a 90 percent positive reaction. I did hit a negative vein too, but it was mostly positive."
An award-winning editor who worked on "Salt," which stars Angelina Jolie, Percy met Rado at an industry party, where Rado was working at as a caterer when he pitched his life story as a film.
Percy said last year he thought his story was moving and would provide a different image of immigration.
According to Border Patrol, Rado — whose given name is Preke Radoina — first illegally entered the country in Detroit in 2001. By 2007, immigration officials issued an order to remove him, but he was never deported. Attorneys for Rado found that immigration officials never sent out a letter ordering him to leave the county.
Over the past year, Percy said he has come to realize just how unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic the immigration and removal process is. "The system is not set up to figure out who is going to be a constructive member of our country," he said.
"I hope I have not misplaced faith in America. I believe everything they taught me in the first grade. I'd like to think somehow, eventually, people will see the light, justice will be done and he will be allowed to stay and be allowed to enjoy the fruits of a really long and I think an unnecessarily complicated process to stay here," Percy said.
In the meantime, Percy and his co-writers have completed the screenplay of "Dreaming American," which incorporates the events of the past years into it. They are currently looking for financing for the film.
Percy hopes Rado will play himself when it is made.