Argentine immigrant Belén Sisa, 23, wanted to show she pays her taxes despite being an undocumented 'Dreamer.'
So last weekend she posted a photo on Facebook posing with her 1040 tax form, noting that she paid $300 in taxes.
“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,” Sisa wrote, refering to her undocumented status.
The post went viral: more than 4,500 people reacted and 2,600 more shared it, prompting messages of both hate and support.
Sisa came to the U.S. aged six from Argentina. Her parents overstayed their visitor visas, she said.
A federal program known as DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals) allows about 740,000 young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for employment authorization and protection from deportation.
"I think I am a pretty good citizen," she added.
"What I wanted to convey was, tell the truth," Sisa told Univision in a telephone interview from Arizona. "We immigrants contribute and pay for a system from which we will never receive the benefits."
Sisa explained she has paid taxes for three years and was angry that many people are not aware that immigrants pay taxes, can do so without a social security card and that others benefit from their work.
"Wanna 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?" she wrote, before challenging President Donald Trump: "How about you show me yours."
"I hope you and your family are sent back"
After her post was shared on social media she began receiving dozens of threats of deportation, verbal assaults and insults.
Here are some examples:
"You are disgusting and I hope you and your family are sent back to the lesser country that your ancestors built."
"Get ICE'd you illegal THOT."
"Too bad you are cute, but you need to come back the right way."
"I have reported you to the INS and screenshotted your posts where you identified your self as an illegal alien."
"Crime doesn't pay lady."
"You should have really thought twice before you committed an act of war by invasion and thinking you have a right of voice in my country."
Many of the messages contained Trump memes, images of the president deporting people and building the border wall, or references to the president's promises to eliminate the DACA program.
Sisa took screenshots of the threats and made an album with 40 photos, but decided to take down the controversial photo as the messages "did not stop."
She has since also received numerous messages of support.
Now a junior at Arizona State University, Sisa is an immigrant rights activist who worked on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' campaign. She said the threats would not silence her: "I'm not afraid, I'm going to keep talking about the immigrant community, and the reason is that I do not want to give them the pleasure of being intimidated," she said.
Studies have estimated that undocumented immigrants contribute between $9 and $13 billion in state, local and federal taxes annually.
A 2014 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) study said undocumented immigrants contribute about $9 billion a year. Another calculation by the Social Security Adminsitration in 2013 estimated the amount at $13 billion.
Researchers at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.64 billion in various state and local taxes each year, including about $1.1 billion in income taxes.
Launched in June 2012, DACA allows about 740,000 young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for employment authorization and protection from deportation. The status does not lead to residency or citizenship and must be renewed every two years. While Obama expanded the program in 2014, removing an age cap and making the status renewable every three years, the expansion was
halted by a lawsuit and a tied Supreme Court decision.