about an unlucky Guatemalan made me so mad and sad that I had to write about it.
For 11 years, Pedro Zapeta, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, lived his version of the American dream in Stuart, Florida: washing dishes and living frugally to bring money back to his home country. Two years ago, Zapeta was ready to return to Guatemala, so he carried a duffel bag filled with $59,000 — all the cash he had scrimped and saved over the years — to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
But when Zapeta tried to go through airport security, an officer spotted the money in the bag and called officials.
“They asked me how much money I had,” Zapeta recalled, speaking to CNN in Spanish.
He told the customs officials $59,000. At that point, U.S. customs seized his money, setting off a two-year struggle for Zapeta to get it back.
I am not a supporter of illegal immigration, but I think this hard working man was robbed in broad daylight. Currently he faces deportation and a Floridian judge has concluded his case and decided that the United States government is entitled to $49,000 of this man’s sweat equity. I personally didn’t know there was a law that says I can’t carry more than $10,000 of my own money out of the country without telling the government. If I did carry more than that amount, would the government also confiscate my money? Another thing I don’t understand is why didn’t they just inform him that he had to sign a form? He has not gone out of the airport and he should be able to obtain a form and fill it out. At first they detained him as a drug runner and held him on drug charges until he produced pay stubs proving he earned all the money through work. This means that even if Pedro declared his money the government probably would still have held him on bogus drug charges. How can any immigrant transport his/her own savings back to his country especially if it’s a country without a very secure banking system?
It makes me sad that Pedro is treated this way, and the fact is many immigrants in this country, whether legal or illegal, face many financial injustices. Here are a few of them that I am quite familiar with:
viagra ratings– In the CNN article it stated that Pedro never paid income taxes, but actually I think taxes were deducted from his pay because the Floridian Judge found that Pedro paid more taxes than he should. In the judge states:
The Court rejects the United States’ argument regarding tax evasion or other law violations allegedly committed by Claimant. As noted above, Claimant has not been charged with any crimes, and the evidence indicates that some taxes were in fact paid, when perhaps they did not need to be paid.
Pedro’s income was very low and Florida does not have state income taxes, so he probably did not have to pay any federal income taxes if he did file. Like Pedro, a lot of immigrants pay more taxes to the United States coffers than they should. For example, if any immigrant is paying for social security and medicare taxes and intend to go back to their home countries then they will forfeit 100% of their money. A lot of immigrants are also not extremely knowledgeable about taxes and do not file their taxes either out of fear or ignorance. In fact, if they did file their taxes some of the lower income immigrants will get a return. I also think it’s an injustice that the Internal Revenue Service can classify you as an US person for tax purposes while the Immigration and Naturalizaion Service has not yet given you permanent residency or citizenship. Myself and others I know have been in this situation where we paid all the same taxes that a citizen pays without knowing whether or not we can actually stay in this country. I don’t think it’s fair that immigrants facing uncertainty about their ability to stay are paying for the social security benefits of the current American retirees.
viagra ratings — Outsourcing and H1B visas are hotly debated topics in the United States. The immigrants and foreigners are almost always painted as the villains that steal jobs from hard working Americans. The fact is that corporations are always looking out for their own bottom line and wants to hire immigrants because they are more likely to accept a below average wage. No one denies that most of California’s agricultural workers are illegal immigrants and most of these immigrants are paid below minimum wage. Additionally, a lot of construction positions are filled by day workers who are illegal. In the Silicon Valley, an H1B visa is usually a way to keep a high tech worker working for a company for below average pay. It is pretty much legalized indentured servitude because the deal is that the foreign worker works for a company for six to seven years and hopefully earn the right to stay in the United States. When the internet bubble burst in the beginning of this decade many immigrant workers were laid off from their companies and had to go back to their own countries. California is an at-will state and that means a company can fire a worker at any time so an H1B worker isn’t always guaranteed their American dream. It is true that the law states when a company helps a worker obtain a green card they must pay the worker a certain wage, but there is a prevalent abuse of this law since the H1B worker can be fired at anytime and isn’t likely to complain about their wage. I have heard cases of companies that do not consider American workers because they know they can keep an H1B worker longer and pay them less. It is completely illegal, but it’s quite a common practice. In Pedro’s case, we do not see that his employers suffered any legal consequences for hiring an illegal immigrant. That seems like quite a double standard on the part of the United States government.
viagra ratings — The banking and credit system in this country isn’t very friendly to immigrants who do not understand much English. From my experience, a lot of immigrants also have an inherent distrust of the banking system and end up keeping a lot of cash in their homes. Pedro actually kept all of his money in a sack around his home according toUsually you can’t open a bank account, investment account, or obtain loans without a valid social security number so illegal immigrants tend to keep simply cash. It’s very dangerous to do this but they have little other choice. The credit system is another odd beast. It seems that in the recent years it has been so lax that many immigrants were victimized by shady loan peddlers.
Immigration is an important source of people and income for this country and I do not understand why it is so hard for the United States to accept all the hard working honest immigrants. My personal experience with immigration is so bizarre and dramatic that it deserves another few blog posts. If you speak to me in person you’d think that I was just another young American born Chinese woman, but the truth is that for a long time I was so jealous of all my friends who were born here. I got my green card just two year ago after growing up in America for the last fifteen years. In many ways, I am more American than I am Chinese, but when I read stories like Pedro’s it just makes me sick how immigrants are treated in this country.