TEMPE, Ariz. — As someone who’s often spoken out for the so-called “dreamers,” Belen Sisa is used to the ugly epithets that’s hurled her way.
But that still didn’t prepare her for the bile that followed when she posted a photo of her holding up her tax returns and a message for President Donald Trump.
“I was surprised, I didn’t expect to be attacked so hatefully for doing the right thing – paying my taxes,” Sisa said.
The Facebook post begins: “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.”
It goes on to say there are many more just like her — people “who pay into a system they will never receive anything from.”
And then came the part that had many up in arms.
“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.”
Her post was shared thousands of times. Responses came in by the hundreds — the good and the ugly.
“There was a really horrible response from people who are anti-immigrant,” she said. “They called me illegal, they said I was a liar, they commented on my appearance, they said this country doesn’t owe me anything,” she said.
Belen said others reported her to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, telling her she should be deported.
“I am legally working in the United States through DACA, and I’m pretty sure the IRS isn’t going to come after someone who pays their taxes,” she replied to one such post.
Coming to America
Belen was born in Argentina and came to the United States on a visitor visa with her parents when she was 6.
They overstayed their visas and have been living in the U.S. undocumented. In 2012, she qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
DACA allows eligible undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to come out of the shadows and obtain valid driver’s licenses, enroll in college and legally secure jobs.
“I decided to make the post because I really wanted to bust the myth that undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes and don’t contribute to this country,” she said. “We are the subject of scapegoating, especially during the Trump era.”
A 2016 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants pay nearly $12 billion a year in state and local taxes.
Sisa, a political science student at Arizona State University, said this is her fourth year filing tax returns.
She said she encourages other DACA recipients to follow her and post on social media about paying tax.