A legal standpoint on illegal aliens
By Isabel Suarez
Concurring: Tim Carlin
For years now I have been listening about our country’s ever-growing immigration issue. Is our government doing anything about it? From my experience, having worked since 1992 with Latino immigrants, I have nothing but respect for them. These individuals are the hardest working people I have ever seen. They work long hours, without overtime; they perform jobs that no one else applies for; they are sexually and verbally abused, and in return they keep working. I know for certain these individuals pay taxes, although I don’t know how. How is this done? I am ashamed of the way illegals are treated, are not these the very people we want to be Americans? Do you have any thoughts?
I am myself not American born, but a proud American. It is heartbreaking that so many millions of undocumented aliens have to live under the radar and live in fear of being deported, leaving their families behind (with American born children). While I understand and can argue both sides of the immigration reform issue, your story goes deeper. Have we lost our way – are we not the same country that wants to spread the great American experience and spends trillions of dollars doing so? This is not an original thought, but sometime ago a comedian said, “If Native Americans had had tougher immigration laws, none of us would be here.” I am surrounded by people with very strong opinions of what could be done. Our feelings come not just from what we hear from the media, but we actually live it through the clients that come through our office. The current immigrant experience is nothing short of horrific. We too are frustrated by the lack of action. Surely there are multiple and creative humane ways to resolve the matter that make economic sense.
You are right, undocumented aliens can and do pay taxes. As far back as 1996, the IRS created a program designed for individuals not eligible for a Social Security number to report their income and pay their taxes. Those who apply receive what is called an Individual Tax Payer Identification Number (ITIN). Unfortunately, once an individual files his taxes, he must also pay for Social Security and unemployment benefits – which they cannot receive. They also cannot obtain a driver’s license or apply for college, among other things – remember the Dream Act fiasco?
Since our country’s birth, people from all over the world have come seeking the American dream. What has changed? If the government would be more proactive in finding a solution to integrate, instead of building walls, it could be a win-win. Why do we keep a statute that symbolizes freedom, scripted with, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” Yes it looks nice, but do we mean it? Not anymore.
Surely our country has tackled more complex issues; perhaps it is time to address this one. Why not start in the Miami Valley. Are we really going to leave this up to Arizona? It should give you some comfort to know that what is happening at your workplace, while not unique, is not representative of America. Since you provided me with the name of your employer, our office did some digging around, and after getting the entire story, we are mad and would love to legally do something about it. Unfortunately, to do so would displace 16 workers. And yes, you are right, all over this country companies benefit from the sweat of undocumented workers. To make matters worse, through ever-increasing deportation mission, hardworking people are forced to leave their families behind.
The lack of action by our government is reprehensible. And how many companies who knowingly hire undocumented aliens get penalized? Great question, if readers have any ideas, please email our office. Town hall meeting anyone?
Legal disclaimer: The content herein is for entertainment and informative purposes only, and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk and are advised to seek an attorney if legal consultation is needed. The accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed as laws are subject to change. Neither the author, the Dayton City Paper, nor any
of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.
Isabel Suarez is a Cuban-born American who has been practicing law since 1984. Her diverse multicultural and multilingual practice Suarez & Carlin in Old North Dayton especially serves the regions working poor. Isabel is also a board member of and volunteer for the Ohio Intervention Program. You can reach Isabel by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her office located at 765 Troy St. in Dayton at