Belén Sisa, 23, is a junior at Arizona State University. She’s also one of the recipients of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows her to live, study, and work in the country free from the threat of deportation for a renewable period of time, despite not having a green card or visa. Sisa was born in Argentina and came to United States with her family on a visitor’s visa when she was 6 years old. As a DACA recipient, she became politically active years ago, which is partially how she came to write the above Facebook post in which she’s holding a 1040 tax form to pay $300 worth of taxes.
Since March 26, the post has been shared thousands of times, as well as commented on and reacted to thousands of times as well. The post reads in full:
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. I think I'm a pretty good citizen. Oh and there are MILLIONS just like me who pay into a system they will never receive anything from. 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
Though the focus of the hate she’s received has mainly been from Trump supporters on her status as an undocumented immigrant, the way she’s been attacked has been “very intersectional,” Sisa told Cosmopolitan.com. “They talked about my appearance, they said 'Oh, you’re so good-looking, but too bad you’re so stupid.”
Dozens of people also screenshotted themselves reporting Sisa to ICE and then posted the screengrabs to her Facebook in the comment thread. That, she found ridiculous. But one of the reactions that actually scared her "was someone [who] created a meme of Trump and they cut out my face so it’s him holding my head and throwing it over the wall he’s supposedly going to build. So that was a little bit scary, because I was thinking ‘These people are trying to hurt me.’” While the negative comments continue to build, Sisa said it was the loving ones she’ll remember the most.
“I received so much positivity and love that I think I will never regret posting the photo with the caption I did because I think it helped a lot of people who are in the same situation as me,” she elaborated. “That’s why I did it, because I wanted to speak for the people who were too scared to speak for themselves. I think my duty as an empowered immigrant and an empowered woman is to use that empowerment to speak for those who are still too scared. To show them you’re not alone, that this injustice is happening to all of us, that we’re being put in this stereotype but that I’m here for you and I’ll make sure the truth comes to light.”
Though Sisa never intended for her post to go viral, she’s glad it did. Since the election, she's struggled with normalcy, knowing "with the swipe of a pen," Donald Trump "could easily change" the status she has with DACA and change her and her family's lives forever.
“Millions of other people who came here legally - or illegally! - are paying taxes and we don’t leech off the system, we don’t receive unemployment,” she explained. “We can’t go and get a reduced health-care plan, we can’t get financial aid, but that’s all [Trump supporters] are ever saying. Didn’t you say you like good immigrants? But at the same time, nothing is ever good enough for you. It’s a very good showing that racism, xenophobia in this country is still very well and alive.”
This - along with the hate mail - only motivates her to further combat hurtful misconceptions people have of immigrants. "Those messages were to instill fear and ensure we wouldn’t fight back, but it made me do the complete opposite," she concluded. "It made me want to stand up to them more.”
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