When Linda first saw Jose, he was hanging from the rafters of her house, working on the roof.
She’d hired the company that Jose worked for to complete renovations on her house. It was a 15-month project. Jose was there every day. The two started dating, and in 2003, Jose encouraged Linda to buy a duplex. Together, they fixed it up and turned a profit. A year later, they did it again.
Linda eventually quit her engineering job to work with Jose full time. Today, she handles the real estate side of the business. Jose handles the labor. There’s no project he can’t complete, nothing he can’t fix, Linda says of her husband.
“Don’t ask me: ‘can I do this or can I do that.’” Jose said. “Just tell me what you want done and it will be done, and it will be done right.”
Today, the couple owns 11 properties, including their home in Bay Park, valued at $800,000. Together, their net worth is $5 million. They have four step children, the youngest of whom goes to school in La Jolla, one of San Diego’s wealthiest enclaves.
In another era, Jose and Linda’s marriage might be the classic American story. The two met through happenstance, kindled a romantic relationship, and together built a life and home that overlooks Mission Bay.
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I would like to bring to the attention of this family, the writer of the article, and others.... that there currently is bi-partisan legislation introduced in Congress that would help this family and many others in this situation. Check out the bill HR 1036, The American Families United Act, in the House of Representatives. It has bi-partisan support (Republicans and Democrats signed onto it).
HR 1036 is common sense reform of this specific issue related to US Citizens married to immigrants, who try to use the current legal route to adjust but can't due to these bans. It simply lets a judge (adjudicator) weigh the positives and negatives of the immigrants history to decide whether a waiver can be granted in these cases. If the positives outweigh the negatives, the mixed status couple can proceed through the current legal route to adjust. For more information, check out americanfamiliesunited . org on the web.
"And in some ways, many unauthorized immigrants contribute more to the system than they take. Jose, for example, still pays income taxes every year, through an individual tax identification number."
I'd like to see the data on that. I know the costs of education ($15B), healthcare ($4B), crimes ($4.4B), administration/services ($1.6B) and remittances. I also know that it's estimated they pay about $3.5B in taxes (http://www.fairus.org/DocServer/research-pub/CaliforniaCostStudy_2014-v3.pdf). So when he says "many", based on the taxes against expenses, I would estimate 10% contribute more than they take.
I'm all for keeping those 10%.
Baja is a pretty nice place, I plan on moving there in a few years, I visit whenever I get the chance. Living in fear is no good, how about building a beautiful oceanfront home in Baja and live free, out of fear? The wife can handle assets in the US and he can fight for residency from Baja.
Good for them for going public with this and fighting the good fight. They are in a good position to defend themselves since they can afford to move some place hospitable if it comes to it.
The basic problem I have with stories like this is that the fail to note the economic consequences to American workers. This individual was working for a roofing contractor in the US, although he was a Mexican citizen who was in the U.S. illegally. The roofing contractor probably knew that. A recent study determined that 14% of construction workers in California are in the state illegally (and thus not legally permitted to work here). If the roofing contractor was unable to hire people like this, the contractor would be forced to hire American citizens, undoubtedly at a rate significantly above what the contractor pays illegal workers. It has been widely noted that California has a high poverty rate. One reason for that is that jobs that should be reserved for Americans are being taken by people from other countries without authorization to live and work here. Another is that the employment of illegal workers drives down wages because they are usually willing to work for less money. Yes, it is easy to empathize with this individual for a variety of reasons, but what of all the Americans workers displaced by this underground source of cheap labor?
I appreciate this respectful perspective.
> jobs that should be reserved for Americans are being taken
This contractor (general contractor, not roofing) needed a few extra day laborers to help with initial demo on short notice for a day or so. With all due respect, if those Americans who needed work were to make themselves available for day labor jobs by hanging out in front of places where contractors shop, they would be getting the jobs instead of the Mexicans. But they don't seem to. In fact, as far as 'being forced to hire American citizens at higher rate', this contractor always talked about how hard it was to find any caucasians who would work as hard as most Mexicans at ANY wage. I don't mean this disrespectfully to anyone but the argument that they are "taking their jobs" doesn't always ring true when it comes to heavy physical labor jobs in the hot sun. These are jobs that just aren't readily sought after by US born Americans.
Regarding the low wages that 'contractors pay illegal workers', Jose proved to be such a fast learner and so skilled for all phases of the construction, the contractor kept him on full-time and gave him a big raise based on merit. He was earning more than some of the Americans working with him.
It's also interesting because, outside of that episode with this contractor, Jose has always been self-employed, thus not "taking anyone's job". Before this, he was self-employed as a mechanic. But after working with the contractor, homeowners started calling Jose directly for other residential odd jobs. They began referring/recommending him such that he quickly became independent / working for himself in that field as well. That's what Linda did; she called him directly for other projects after her remodel. And he was so good, she married him! (haha, just kidding about that reason. 😉)
Everyone thinks he should be able to get a green card now that he is married to a US citizen but the 1996 immigration law doesn't allow it. The law makes him barred from ever getting any type of visa because of his time spent here undocumented. Any type. Ever. And that is true regardless of the 1998 checkpoint incident. If the laws don't change to allow him to somehow change his status (perhaps by paying a penalty), this hard-working, skilled, highly-respectful, crime-free and successful individual will spend his whole life in the shadows fearing deportation.
Ms. Meyer: Thanks for this. Americans do some pretty tough and undesirable work. Think about coal miners, refuse collectors, and those who remove bedpans. Think about the people who remove corpses and those who clean sewers. Think about yourself. Would you be willing to wash dishes in a restaurant, clean public restrooms? No? How about if you were paid $100 per hour? How about $1,000 per hour? How about $10,000 per hour? It's a somewhat fanciful exercise, but the point is that at the right price, you can hire someone to do any job.
Jose has always been self-employed, thus not taking anyone's job? If your car breaks down and you need a mechanic, you can hire someone who is in the country legally, or someone who is in the country illegally. If you choose the latter, then the independent contractor who is the legal worker is displaced.
Employers of illegal workers like to spread the myth that they have no choice. They do have a choice. They can pay the wages needed to retain legal workers. However, the fact that their competitors are also employing illegal workers means that if they pay the wages required to hire legal workers, they can't compete, since their labor costs are too high. It's not an excuse. It's a reality that exists due to a lack of enforcement of knowing hiring of illegal workers.
We have just gone through a presidential election in which a major swing voting group was unemployed and underemployed, low-skilled American workers. They are angry about a number of things. One is that jobs that should be available to Americans are being taken by foreign workers, both offshore and onshore.
So when you found your papers were "bunk papers" in 1998. You chose to simply come back illegally and did nothing to get it straightened out.
You came back illegally and have been here illegally since.
you created your own situation.
Solve it and get right with the law.
Get a Mexican abogado to go thru the application process for you in Mexico with the U.S. embassy and get a business visa.
You should of done this yesterday.
Actually the 'bunk papers' were not false documents like you are thinking. It was simply a Receipt Notice for an Employment Authorization Application (EAD; Form I-765). That's it. I know because I know this person. The employment authorization request was simply baseless, that's all; thus the author used the word 'bunk'. Having the receipt gave him the impression that he could pass through the highway checkpoint without a problem but he was mistaken. He was only 28 then. He is 48 now.
You mentioned he should get a business visa. You are misunderstanding the 1996 immigration law. After 365 days of illegal presence, you cannot get a visa of any type. Business visa, tourist visa, permanent visa (green card), student visa, nada. That's the problem. There is no way to 'get right' with the law at that point as you suggest.
And that it doesn't matter what immigration path you have: marriage, family sponsor, US employer sponsor, foreign investment, once you pass those 365 days in the country illegally, you have to stay out of the country for 10 years* before you can apply to come back.
This is why the US has so many "mixed-status" families today, where all family members are US citizens except one doesn't have papers.
And there was nothing he could have done 'yesterday'.
His case illustrates how someone without any criminal record, who works hard every single day, who has the skill and determination to build a successful real estate business, and who has proved himself by achieving all that, and who has a US citizen spouse (which has always been a green card qualifier until now) still cannot change his immigration status because of this law.
Once 365 days is passed, the nail is in the coffin.
This never used to be the case. And no one seems to know that, including yourself.
(* There is an "extreme hardship waiver" for the 10-year ban, but he is not eligible because of the 2nd entry.)
Thanks for the reply Nancy and the explanation of the 365 day in the country.
you are correct I was unaware of that clause.
Appears this couple will be stuck in this until congress acts on immigration reform which appears unlikely under the immigration reset .
Mark, you were absolutely right. The only hope is immigration reform. And that is definitely looking hopeless in the immediate future, short of some miracle.
I appreciate you caring enough to respond again. It's important for more people to be aware of how "final" this law is for these immigrants because the rhetoric about "illegal aliens" all around the country is, frankly, way of off-base.