Whether you look at the nearly 428 billion dollars undocumented immigrants paid in taxes in 2006 or doing jobs Americans are no longer willing to do, immigrants are an integral part of the United States’ economy. The U.S. was built on immigrants and has always relied on them to sustain our growth.
In addition, there is the moral issue of being a haven for those in need of sanctuary. The U.S. is commonly referred to as “The Land of Opportunity.” One MAST teacher is taking his shot at this opportunity, though it hasn’t always been easy for him.
Chemistry teacher Tomas Pendola came to the United States from Argentina in 2001, fleeing a financial crisis that had affected his family.
“We were basically broke,” Pendola said when asked about their financial status just before leaving. Pendola, his parents, and his siblings all came to America on a tourist visa which has since expired.
“My whole family is undocumented,” Pendola said. He is only able to work in the U.S. due to Deferred Action (DACA), a change in policy by President Obama, in which some immigrants were given a work permit if they met certain requirements.
Immigration policies in the U.S. make it very difficult for immigrants to become citizens legally, which is why some people come to the U.S. on a visa and overstay their visa. This has caused the governments in states with large immigrant populations such as Arizona to pass laws that profile certain ethnicities. One example is the “Stop and Search” law in Arizona, which allowed police officers to stop a vehicle and ask for identification solely on the basis of whether or not the driver “looked undocumented.”
“[It’s a] big middle finger to your own lineage to have such a broken immigration system in a country that’s 200 years old; unless you’re Native American, you’re basically an immigrant,” Pendola said, referring to America’s legislation on immigration.
Immigrants also have to be wary of deportation, something Pendola has never had to fear as he is under protection because of Deferred Action. However, he is just one of many immigrants that face risks like deportation. When asked what advice he would give immigrants who just arrived to the U.S., Pendola suggested they “get to know people, become an active part of your community, [and] try to understand and learn the laws in the U.S.”