I'm A Successful Entrepreneur But Might Get Deported

By Jose Pagliery


NEW YORK -- It happens every time Celso Mireles, a tech consultant who runs a successful business in Phoenix, hops into his pickup truck and drives past a police car. His stomach turns. His chest tightens.

He could be deported any minute.

Mexican-born Mireles, 25, is among nearly 2 million immigrants in the United States illegally who were brought here as children by their parents.

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Without a path to residency or citizenship, these immigrants are prevented from getting regular jobs without lying or obtaining fake papers. Many are forced to become entrepreneurs. But increasingly hostile state laws have relegated these small businesses to the shadows, making it harder for them to prosper.

Although most remain quiet about their legal status, a few entrepreneurs have decided to speak to CNNMoney about the dilemma. They hope to change the tone of the immigration debate, one they see as bitter and xenophobic.

Mireles is one of them. He was 3 years old when his parents left grueling jobs at Mexican factories known as maquiladoras. To escape the low-paying work, they traveled north by plane and overstayed their visas.

'Dreamers' Caught In A Nightmare

In 2009, Mireles earned a business management degree from Arizona State University, but no company would hire him because of his status. That summer, as he worked on a scorching hot alfalfa field in Colorado, he grew resentful.

"If they won't take my business here, then I'll take my education to another country, make millions, and rub it in America's face," Mireles thought.

But he overcame that, replacing his anger with a desire to stay and join the business community in Phoenix.

"It's where I had my first kiss, where I learned to drive, where I graduated high school," Mireles said. "Sometimes I catch myself about to say 'born and raised' in Phoenix, then I realize I wasn't born here."

Because of his status, Mireles can't get a credit card or apply for a bank loan to expand his company, Computer Dude Services. He relies solely on incoming cash, which was $9,000 last year and which he expects to reach $40,000 this year.

Undocumented immigrants like Mireles, who were brought here as children, are often called "Dream Act kids" -- or "Dreamers" -- after the Dream Act, a long-standing proposal in Congress.

The bill would provide these undocumented immigrants permanent residency if they show good moral character and either attended college or enlisted in the military. It was last voted down in 2010, and few think another attempt will be made this election year.

Still, Dream Act kids like Mireles and Carla Chavarria keep up the hope.

Working Against Societal Views

Chavarria, a 19-year-old graphic designer and budding entrepreneur in Phoenix, treks to and from client meetings by bus because she fears getting caught driving without a license.

She is also in an awkward position when her clients ask about her education. She had to drop out of Scottsdale Community College when tuition exploded after Arizona refused undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates. She now attends nighttime trade school classes at a local high school.

Her mother, who left a Mexican factory 12 years ago and now cleans homes, laments the obstacles that her daughter faces. She asked that her name not be used.

"Few of the young people born here take advantage of their opportunities here," she said. "And my daughter, with the little she's been able to study, has done so much with so little. If she had all the tools they give citizens, she'd be more than what she is now."

Wil Prada is another Dream Act entrepreneur.

Prada's father left Peru in 1991 to escape the violent, leftist Shining Path guerrillas. His mother followed in 1994, when he was 7 years old, on a three-week trek through Central America. Prada remembers being torn from his mother's arms by a hefty stranger who carried him across a river along the U.S.-Mexico border.

His father was deported in 2007. That forced Prada, then a political science student at the University of California, Los Angeles, to run his father's landscaping business himself.

Prada started to feel trapped. It dawned on him that he had few other work options. He said that he became depressed, and the company slumped on his watch.

"Your whole life you're told you have to get an education and you'll be successful if you do," Prada said. "I finished and I couldn't use my degree."

But he picked himself up and taught himself how to give client estimates, repair sprinklers and better lead his sole employee, a documented Mexican immigrant.

Prada, now 25, maintains lawns for 40 homes and earns himself $25,000 a year.

"I realized that we have to change this social notion that we're bad for the country and we're leeches," Prada said. "We're human. We have families. We contribute."


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Pulitzer Prize Winner an Illegal Immigrant



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1165 Comments

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Arles Dawn

I hate society...it is full of ignorance, human life is corrupted, it's broken...I have only one wish for all of you humans....Death :) If I was a black Angel....I would really enjoy my job :D but I'm a simple pathetic mortal just like you all...oh well the fact that everyone dies one day cheers me up :P Have a good time people...while you can >:D

December 12 2012 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
davidbh61255

Don't mexico have welfare, too??

June 01 2012 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lisa Slack

I don't feel one bit sorry for them. There are us citizens that bust their butts paying taxes etc that don't get an nth of the opotunities the illegals get. So sick of them crying when they get caught. And I will not and do not do business with anyone who hires illegals. I know how mean of me to say ! Poor folks come here for a better life blahblah. Thats the biggest load of BS. These folks bribe welfare office employees to get benefits now if they have money to bribe people they have money to carry there butts back home. I have heard so much retoric about the poor souls. 1) Don't pop kids out like a pez dispenser ( I know many have brought up religious beliefs thats why theres seperation of church and state!) 2) They completley take workers back decades ie.. pay rates etc.. 3) They do NO)T add to our economy (Sales tax doesn't even cover the cost of illgals sophist argument at its best.) 4) I'm sick of working hard to pay for everyone else especially should i need help I will never get it because I didn't spit kids out I couldn't feed etc. Bottom line go cry me a bucket ful or better yet get the fack out.

May 31 2012 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lisa Slack's comment
Peter

I do feel sorry for you. It might well be that your ancestor may have come to this country many centuries ago illegally. How about that! Would you go back to the country they came from???

June 09 2012 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Peter's comment
ladywolff2

Peter; if you study the immigration history of this country, you will find that illegal immigration is a thousand times worse today than it was many, many years ago. And all those people--our ancestors-- who came here legally, using the correct methods and following the law....do we tell them that they were fools, and that they should have just come here illegally? It would be a slap in the face to every single one of them. We did not force illegal immigrants to come here in the way that they have. They chose to come here without going through the required channels, when they knew perfectly well that we have immigration laws just like any other civilized country. They knew that they were breaking the law. They produce children here in the States in order to make deportation more difficult (these children are often referred to as "anchor babies"). Our country welcomes anyone to come here and apply for residence. So to any immigrant, I say come join us, but do it in a lawful manner like everyone else. Don't expect us not to enforce our own laws just because you were too inconvenienced to apply for residency. What makes you any better than the millions who came before you, using legal methods?

June 11 2012 at 2:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
bernhardtra

The Statue of Liberty, is the only reply to this we really need to consider.

May 30 2012 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bernhardtra's comment
Lisa Slack

No the statue of liberty was a gift commemorating the war of independance not come get the hand out. Ellis island was where legal immigrants came in.

May 31 2012 at 1:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sultry

This is the biggest crock of chit. If a person is smart enough and talented enough to figure out how to go into and make a successful business, make it through all the red tape, hoops and license requirements that cities and states have, They ought to be smart enough to figure out how to obtain legal status. That might mean hiring a lawyer. If the business is a success they should be able to pay a lawyer. Considering if they are not here legally, none of their business paperwork can be legal, So the business is not legal. That has opened up another can of worms. OMG! Everybody put some lipstick on your monitor, because this story has gotten real ugly.

May 30 2012 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HI AUGIE

why dont all you 12 to 15million illegals go bck to where u came from an applie to come here to the usa the right way thier r to many takeing benifets from differat states like california where they are 5 billion dollars in the red

May 30 2012 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to HI AUGIE's comment
Lisa Slack

California is the model for what not to do.

May 31 2012 at 1:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

I think that may include yourself. If you did a search of your ancestor and it turnout that they came here illegally centuries ago, would you go back to whatever country they came from???

June 09 2012 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bandicoot5

What if we gave them an amnesty pass, that would be to send them back to their countries, but allow them to apply to return legally? The "amnesty" comes in so the deportation wouldn't count against them during their application for re-entry.
Once they return, they are eligible to open their businesses legally. Just a thought.

May 30 2012 at 6:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bandicoot5's comment
Lisa Slack

They don't want to come here legally because either they have a criminal record or they wouldn't qualify. And amnesty was given during the Reagan years and illegals have tripled. They need to be deported period. Maybe if we stopped handing out the benefits they will go?

May 31 2012 at 1:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Muzzled

It sucks your parents were criminals, go to Mexico and become a entrepreneur

May 30 2012 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lifehub

It's a very unfortunate situation for the children of illegal intruders. The criminalistic parents either don't know or don't care that by breaking into another country, they have pretty much sentenced their own children to a life of grief, suspicion, and hiding.

...And HP? Get offa your high horses with that pretentious 'hostile laws' junk you spew. Seems like you're totally against the USA protecting itself while you sit in your comfy chairs and dead-end 'writing' jobs. Consider if someone broke into your house and the intruder was arrested. Would you regard this arrest as 'hostile laws'? BTW....they are not 'immigrants'. They are illegal criminal intruders. Immigrants are those who came to the USA lawfully from foreign countries. Get it right.

May 30 2012 at 5:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
celticguardianl4

What we need is to improve on the system. There are tons of ways you can become a legal citizen. Heck a woman at my church just got her full citizenship just few weeks ago. Unfortunately red tape can slowdown and stop some people in their tracks. If these people come over here are start companys then their should be some sort of fast track to citizenship for them because they are boosting the economy. On the other hand if they are coming over to live off welfare and leach of us then deportation is exactly what they deserve.

May 30 2012 at 5:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to celticguardianl4's comment
gawolfeaz

they should not be "rewarded" with a fast track to citizenship when they have already commited a crime to get here. We don't need anymore criminals. US citizens that get caught commiting a crime do their time and get a chance to come out and hopefully lead a better life. Illegals need to go home and help the economy for thier own counrty, tyr to make your country better instead of ******* up our resources. If they want to try and come back, go through legal channels. No one is innocent coming here illegally.

May 30 2012 at 6:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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