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Immigration Law

Immigrants Lacking Papers Work Legally — As Their Own Bosses

"At just 20 years of age, Carla Chavarria sits at the helm of a thriving graphic design business, launching branding and media campaigns for national organizations. Some of her projects are so large she has to hire staff.  Still, Chavarria has to hop on buses to meet clients throughout Phoenix because Arizona won't give her a driver's license.  The state considers her to be in the country illegally, even though she recently obtained a two-year reprieve from deportation under the Obama administration's deferred action program.  She may not drive, but along with thousands of other young people who entered the country illegally, Chavarria has found a way to make a living without breaking the law.  Although federal law prohibits employers from hiring someone residing in the country illegally, there is no law prohibiting such a person from starting a business or becoming an independent contractor.  As a result, some young immigrants are forming limited liability companies or starting freelance careers — even providing jobs to U.S. citizens — as the prospect of an immigration law revamp plods along in Congress. ... Most days, a coffee shop in Phoenix serves as her office, and she charges clients $350 to $5,000 per project.  The first time she contracted workers for a large campaign, an odd thought hit her: Although others couldn't hire her, she could hire others.  She also realized that her success had a larger significance.  "They say we're taking money and jobs and don't pay taxes," Chavarria said of arguments made against immigrants in the country illegally.  "In reality, it's the opposite.  We pay taxes.  We create jobs.  I'm hiring people — U.S. citizens." " - Cindy Carcamo, L.A. Times, Sept. 15, 2013.