Undocumented immigrant living in Shreveport for 15 years opens u - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Undocumented immigrant living in Shreveport for 15 years opens up

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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

 For one undocumented immigrant living in Shreveport, his journey and road to success was paved with hardships and fear.

KSLA News 12 reporter Olivia Vidal sat down with "George" who crossed the Mexican border into the United States illegally 15 years ago.

"We walked for about a week and then we got to Dallas," George said.

George said he and about five other Mexicans paid a coyote $1,000 to help them cross into the United States. A coyote is someone who knows the roads and "smuggles" people into the United States. 

"You have to know somebody who knows the road, you know, who can lead you," he said.

"On my case, we crossed the river, swim, and then we were just walking. It was nothing special. Just walking and walking through the woods you know," George said.

Someone on the U.S. side in connection with the coyote picked up the men and they went on to Dallas. George eventually made his way to Shreveport, La. where he's lived for the past 15 years.

George currently owns a business and said he has a tax I.D. number so he can run the business and pay his taxes. He has a checking and savings account. 

George said he was able to do this without showing a social security card-- something he doesn't have as an undocumented immigrant.

But he would like to be a legal citizen of the states one day.

"I tried. I mean, like in 2001 I did an application. It didn't work the way we were doing it. I didn't know the right way to do it. And then I tried two more times, but on my situation it's kind of hard," he said.

George said he doesn't have health insurance. If he has any medical needs, he pays for them out of pocket.

For George, he came to the United States for the thrill of adventure. He thought he would be in the country for one year, but 15 years later he's still in the states and hasn't looked back, even though his parents and brother are still living in Mexico.

"I haven't seen my parents since I left Mexico," George said. He was only 25 years old when he left.

"Right now, it's tough. It's tough to come back, so I really wouldn't go back to Mexico," he said about the option of going back to visit his parents. 

As for his time here in Shreveport and the United States, he said people have been kind to him and business has been great. After 15 years of living in the states, he's come to understand how people in the U.S. feel about immigrants living in the country illegally.

"I love this country and I do respect its laws, you know. And I think when we come here illegally, I think it's not right. So if the government decides to apply a law, I mean you have to respect it. If I ever had to go back to Mexico because they send me back to Mexico, I have to do it. I think the government has to do what it has to do," George said.

"I think we are beneficial to this country. I don't think we take a job from somebody. I think we create jobs. I think we help this country to be more productive or more efficient. I love this country," he said. "I think we are contributing to that. Like here I don't think I am stealing work from anybody. I think I'm helping. Helping each other."

All of George's employees are legal citizens of the United States.

George said he wants other immigrants to understand the importance of respect. 

"We have to do our best being here. We have to do our best, of course working, but this is very important--behaving in this country. You know? We have to respect the law. We have to respect the people," George said. "We don't have a way to make a good living in our countries and we find it here. So we have to appreciate that. We have to appreciate that with work."

He said he wants U.S. citizens to know that those coming into the country are looking for work and looking "for the right to live."

"I would like to tell them that we want to be accepted and it don't matter the way we are," he said. "I always tell my people we feel so happy to be neighbors and I love it."

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