Juan is an undocumented immigrant who pays taxes every year. The President who wants to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, not so much.
On Tax Day, Juan Escalante, a DACA-recipient and America’s Voice staffer, writes a new piece for Vox, entitled “I’m an undocumented immigrant who pays taxes every year.”
Juan’s family came to the United States legally in 2000, fleeing political unrest and instability in Venezuela. Seven years later, his family lost their legal status when their attorney misfiled forms, resulting in a green card application rejection. Despite their change in status, Juan’s family has dutifully paid their taxes for 17 years:
My parents, who became undocumented immigrants after losing their immigration status in 2007, continue to pay their taxes to this day. Just like me, they have always abided by the simple belief that regardless of their immigration status, they have to do right by the country that has given their family a better life and opportunities.
No matter what Donald Trump and his anti-“illegal” immigrant supporters may think, there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that undocumented immigrants like my parents are just as American as anybody else — especially when it comes to fulfilling our responsibility of diligently paying our taxes on a regular basis.”
Even under a new administration that ran a campaign on anti-immigrant propaganda and that targets all undocumented immigrants, the Escalante family continues to contribute to the country they consider home:
“Scared of what our future in the United States would look like without the proper documentation, my parents decided to recommit to their original reason for coming here: to provide a better life for my brothers and me. That goal, of course, included abiding by the laws of this country and contributing back through our taxes.
To this day, I follow this philosophy. I have never failed to file my taxes. In fact, paying my taxes is one of the few experiences that makes me feel unbound by the constraints of my lack of legal status. I live under a daily reminder that DACA, the Obama-era program that allows me to drive, work, and live free from the fear of deportation, could be terminated by the Trump administration at any point in time. Paying taxes reaffirms my commitment to this country and proves that undocumented immigrants, like my family and me, are not the freeloaders Republicans make us out to be.
Growing up, I recall my parents feeling the same kind of way. “Ay, hijo,” my mother would tell me from time to time, “If we are to be deported, at least I hope the government takes into consideration the fact that we have always paid our taxes.”
Donald Trump, who ran on a campaign demonizing “illegal” immigrants, is nearing his 100 days benchmark as president of the United States. The American people have yet to see his tax returns. Yet undocumented immigrants like Belen Sisa are using Tax Day to reveal how much they contribute to the United States. The hypocrisy is simply unmeasurable.
Regardless of whether you believe Trump’s excuses for withholding his tax returns, the truth is that undocumented immigrant do in fact pay their fair share of taxes.
A new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that undocumented immigrants, the same people Trump referred to as drug dealers, murderers, and rapists, contribute $11.74 billion in state and local taxes.
Read Juan’s entire piece online here.