Undocumented immigrants can legally work in the U.S. by setting up a limited liability company or freelancing.
Cindy Carcamo of the Los Angeles Times profiled a 20-year-old owner of a graphic design business in Arizona. Carla Chavarria’s LLC has done so well, launching branding and media campaigns, that she’s even legally hired staff. But she can’t get a driver’s license to visit clients in Phoenix because she entered the country illegally.
She was also forced to drop out of Scottsdale Community College when Arizona began refusing to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants, CNN Money reported in 2012.
Chavarria entered Arizona illegally from Mexico with her mother when she was just 7 years old. She said coming to the U.S. her parents instilled in her the belief that, as long as she is here, anything is possible.
"We're taught as young kids that this is the land of opportunity," she said. "They told me, 'You could be anything you want to be if you work hard, you're a good person, obey your parents and go to school.'"
She recently received a two-year reprieve under President Barack Obama’s deferred action program, according to the LA Times.
Since President Ronald Reagan’s immigration overhaul in 1986, it’s been legal for people who enter the country illegally to work legally.
While employers are prohibited from hiring Chavarria, there is no such law against her starting her own business or becoming an independent contractor. Young, undocumented entrepeneurs are starting LLCs and freelance careers.
Chavarria learned about starting her own company by registering as an LLC at a workshop hosted by immigrant rights activists.
"I didn't know it was possible," Chavarria said. "And it wasn't that hard."
There is no proof of citizenship required. Just print forms from the Internet, get a bank account, and turn in the paperwork with a $50 fee.
The growing trend could explain why 25,000 undocumented workers living in Arizona because self-employed in 2009. That number represents an 8 percent jump since the year prior.
"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."