RIO DE LA GUEROS, CALIFORNIA — Technically, 35 year old Susan Reedy is an illegal immigrant, residing in a sleepy, coastal California town. Susan came here about 17 years ago as a student, and she overstayed her visa. She’s never gone back since.
“Which is weird, I know, because Canada has universal healthcare and we’re not still fighting about whether I should be able to decide what I do with my own genitals and reproductive system,” Susan told us in a Skype interview today, “but I live in San Diego county and we have the best tacos. Once you have San Diego tacos, you never, ever want to leave. So I stayed, and I made a life for myself.”
Ms. Reedy says over the ensuing decade or more after her student visa expired, she fell in love and had two children with an American man who was shipped off to Afghanistan and died in the line of duty. Susan says the pair had planned to wed when he came back from his tour, but with him dying, she was left with not very many options. She and her American born children decided sticking it out in the United States was their best bet.
“Sure, it’s risky being undocumented, but this is the life my kids now, as Americans, and I didn’t want to uproot them,” Reedy said, “and I can’t bring myself to punish them for my choice to overstay my visa.”
Susan works at a local grocery store, using an assumed name she said she cannot divulge. She says she uses a phony Social Security number, but she makes sure all the income tax and Social Security tax she’s supposed to pay gets paid.
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“Most undocumented people I know do the same thing, if they’re not working under the table,” Susan let us know. “This is a very common thing. People think illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes, but we sure as heck do.”
There is a man in the White House who has built his entire political career thus far stoking the fears of some native born Americans that they’re being replaced by immigrants. Susan says she has been “disgusted and appalled” by the rhetoric used by President Donald Trump toward immigrants and even four American women of color he told to “go back” to where they came from. Oddly though, Susan says she’s never felt threatened or intimidated personally by what Trump says about immigrants.
“Oh, I never felt any pressure or anything like that, no,” Susan told us, “for some reason, it’s never felt like he was aiming his xenophobia at me, or people like me. I just wish I could put my finger on what’s different about me, but I’m not sure I’d be white about it if I did!”
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Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because they have a definition of hate speech that includes “calling Ann Coulter the C-word.”