Illegal Immigrants are here to stay - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Illegal Immigrants are here to stay

LAWTON, Okla._A local immigrant, who has been living illegally in America for seventeen years, says the relationship between illegal immigrants and the United States is mutually beneficial.

"Try to send all these people back, including me, just try and see if you can. I think it's impossible, there's millions of people here. Millions here," said Maribel Chavez, a woman who has been in the U.S. illegally for 17 years.

Chavez first came to America in 1997, leaving everything behind in Mexico in hopes for a brighter future. The dangerous, three-day journey in the hands of a smuggler was a sacrifice that has given her the freedom that she could only imagine in her dreams.

Chavez says the best thing that has ever happened in her life is when she came to the United States. If she was given the choice to do it again, she said she would.

Life in America has been constant travel for Chavez as she went cross country in search of work between fields, factories, and restaurants. But still after 17 years in the country, she still doesn’t have permission to be here.

While she doesn't have a social security number, she does have an individual tax identification number.

"We do pay taxes. We do a tax report and everything; the same as everyone else," explained Chavez.

But she's not treated like everyone else. That's because she doesn't qualify for citizenship for at least seven years, when her oldest son turns 21. Chavez is a firm believer that this country, one built on immigrants, is in need of people much like herself.

"People don't say ‘that person who is building my house is illegal, send them back home.’ No. Because they will get an advantage to that; it is cheaper," said Chavez.

Chavez says immigrants will continue to come here in large numbers because they know that when, and if they arrive safely, they'll find work and possibly get a fake I.D. or maybe even buy an American's identification.

"It's happening and it's how millions of people are here working," said Chavez.

She knows despite her beliefs, she could be deported. It's something she fears everyday. Now the mother of three kids, she says if that does happen, she'll be back.

"But like I say, if I have to go through all this again, I will," said Chavez.


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