Belén Sisa, an Arizona based college student originally from Argentina, has gone viral on social media over the last few days after posting a photo of herself holding her 1040 tax return form on Sunday. While that may not sound like the most contentious subject matter for a Facebook post, it was the accompanying caption that really incited the storm of mixed reactions that the student subsequently received.
23-year-old Sisa, who is allowed to live, study and work in the US without citizenship or a visa thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, which was introduced into policy by US Homeland Security with the participation of US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2012. Sisa uploaded the photo alongside a description that explained: “just filed my taxes and PAID $300 to the state of Arizona. I cannot receive financial aid from the state or federal government for school, I cannot benefit from unemployment, a reduced healthcare plan, or a retirement fund. I think I’m a pretty good citizen.”
The “dreamer”, as recipients of the DACA are commonly known, went on to explain that she was one of millions of immigrants in the same situation, so many of whom have received heightened abuse recently surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency in the US. Sisa also took the opportunity to hit out at the president himself, who, unlike the Arizona student, has not publicly disclosed how much he paid in taxes this year.
“Want to tell me again how I should be deported, contribute nothing and only leech off this country while the 1% wealthiest people in this country steal from you everyday? How about you show me yours Donald J. Trump? #HereToStay,” she quipped.
Many Facebook users reacted to the post positively, offering her kind words of support in the comments section. But the replies were not all so savoury.
Sisa’s photo sparked a huge string of insults and intimidations too, with many commenters threatening to report her to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, ignorantly assuming that she was in the country illegally.
Just one example: “You’re disgusting and I hope that you and your family will be sent back to the lesser country that your ancestors built.”
The student activist, who also shared her story in a video on Facebook last year, responded by publishing another Facebook post, attaching numerous screenshots of private messages she had received from her “haters”. This time around, the caption read: “The HATE is real guys. The hate is real. I am legally working in the United States through DACA, and I’m pretty sure the IRS isn’t going to come after someone who PAYS their taxes. I truly feel bad for these people, may they find peace and happiness in their own dark hearts.”
In an interview with CBS News yesterday, Sisa explained that the reason for her post was to “bust myths about what immigrants look like”:
“My post, my face, my family, that is reality.” She also described how she has received numerous “ignorant comments about [her] appearance” and her intelligence.
A quick Google search of the activist’s name does in fact reveal multiple webpages entitled “Belen Sisa is the cutest illegal alien EVER” or similar, as if her appearance had absolutely any relevance here.
Despite the backlash and harassment that she has received so far, Sisa is not backing down. The student is clearly incredibly passionate about her activism: running up to the 2016 elections, she volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign to help register voters, even though she was personally ineligible to vote. The 23-year-old also served as a page during the Democratic National Convention last year.
Today, the young activist shared a video of herself on Facebook, in which she explains her experiences in Spanish.