Belen Sisa is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient who posted on Facebook that she paid her taxes. Now people are reporting her to be deported.
On Sunday morning, Arizona State University junior Belen Sisa posted a simple Facebook update that she paid her taxes.
By Sunday night, dozens of strangers were messaging her that she is a criminal and a liar, and that they reported her to be deported.
Sisa, 23, is a “dreamer” — her parents visited the U.S. from Argentina when she was 6 and overstayed their visas — but she is shielded from deportation by President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
DACA allows young undocumented immigrants without serious criminal records who were brought to the U.S. as children to register their personal information with the government, and in exchange receive federal work permits and a two-year reprieve from the threat of deportation, which allows them to get a Social Security number and a driver’s license.
“I was hoping to kind of make a statement and educate people. What you’ve known all this time isn’t the truth,” Sisa said Monday morning.
Speaking out for dreamers
Sisa is an outspoken advocate for dreamers: In 2015 she wrote a popular opinion piece pressing Arizona leaders to grant in-state tuition to dreamers. Last year she served as a page at the Democratic National Convention, even though she can’t vote.
“I decided to post it basically to bust the myth that immigrants don’t contribute and they don’t pay taxes to this country,” she said. She said she filed state and federal taxes and, in the end, paid $300 to the state.
She publicly posted a photo of herself holding a Form 1040 along with this caption:
“MYTH BUSTER: I, an undocumented immigrant, just filed my taxes and PAID $300 to the state of Arizona. I cannot receive financial aid from the state or federal government for school, I cannot benefit from unemployment, a reduced healthcare plan, or a retirement fund. I think I’m a pretty good citizen. Oh and there are MILLIONS just like me who pay into a system they will never receive anything from. Wanna tell me again how I should be deported, contribute nothing and only leech off this country while the 1% wealthiest people in this country steal from you everyday? How about you show me yours Donald J. Trump? #HereToStay“
Backlash from strangers
More than 4,500 people have reacted to the photo and more than 2,600 have shared it in a day. People also took screenshots and posted it on various pages and websites.
Strangers messaged her that they reported her to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, and even the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which no longer exists. Many also commented on her appearance.
She posted screenshots of the messages she received, including:
- “You’re disgusting and I hope that you and your family will be sent back to the lesser country that your ancestors built.”
- “Whose social are you using? Your face/clothes/car seems to be contrary to u needing assistance girl.”
- “If you are a foreign invader you will be investigated and picked up I will see to it myself. Who am I you may ask? I’m your biggest nightmare … I am a governor hopeful and putting your deportation on my resume is going to look great on my accolades.”
“As a matter of policy, the agency does not speculate on any alleged tips made through the ICE tip line,” Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe, a spokeswoman for ICE, said in an email.
“It makes me feel a little sad, to be honest, that for showing and educating and basically doing the right thing, I am being hated on so much,” Sisa said. She eventually changed the photo from public to “friends only” because she was getting deluged with notifications.
“Even when you do the right thing, that’s not good enough,” she said. “It was trying to bully me into shutting up. That’s what they wanted and I’m not gonna let them do that.”
More on immigration and taxes
Although the issues of tax contributions and economic impact of immigrants without legal status are complicated, some non-partisan organizations have worked to analyze the matter.
The 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States in 2013 collectively paid an estimated $11.64 billion a year in state and local taxes, including sales, property and personal-income taxes, according to a report last year from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
“The best evidence suggests that at least 50 percent of undocumented immigrant households currently file income tax returns using Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs), and many who do not file income tax returns still have taxes deducted from their paychecks,” the study stated.
Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, told The Atlantic a similar number last year: He said undocumented immigrants paid $13 billion into Social Security in 2010, and only received about $1 billion in benefits.
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