The Bulletin

How undocumented U.S. immigrants can work legally: entrepreneurship

Posting in Design

Comprehensive immigration reform appears to be stalled in the United States -- at least for now -- and the Obama administration is making a new push to punish businesses who are suspected of hiring undocumented workers. But for the millions of undocumented workers living in the United States there's a way to work legally: start your own business or become an independent contractor.

Los Angeles Times reports on U.S. immigrants who -- while unable to be legally hired by an employer -- are legally working in the U.S. by starting limited liability companies and freelancing. There is little research on the topic, but some evidence suggests that people are increasingly taking this employment path:

Indications of a trend could be found, however, in a Public Policy Institute of California report on the effects of Arizona's 2007 mandatory E-Verify law, which forced businesses to use a federal system intended to weed out people working in the country illegally.

The study found that 25,000 workers living in Arizona illegally became self-employed in 2009. That was an 8% jump over the number a year earlier. They probably formed limited liability companies, created their own businesses or even left employers to become independent contractors.

As Carla Chavarria, an undocumented U.S. immigrant who started her own graphic design business in Arizona told the Los Angeles Times: "They say we're taking money and jobs and don't pay taxes. In reality, it's the opposite. We pay taxes. We create jobs. I'm hiring people — U.S. citizens."

Read more: Los Angeles Times

Photo: Flickr/Sasha Y. Kimel

— By on September 16, 2013, 6:08 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure