Confessions of an Undocumented Immigrant
It's a controversial issue that's currently being debated in Georgia - illegal immigration.
In the end, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the state alone could be affected.
One man, who admits to being an undocumented worker for more than 20 years, is sharing his story.
In 1986, a young Fernando Briceño came to America from Ecuador to play for his country in table tennis. After the tournament in Miami he took a trip to New York and says he fell in love.
"I fell in love with the city. You cannot blame a teenager to fall in love with New York City," said Fernando Briceño.
But is was after a second trip to the states that he began a secret life-- overstaying his visa and becoming an undocumented immigrant. He says he didn't realize what he had done until after obtaining employment.
"When I went to get my first paycheck, my boss referred to me as an illegal alien. In my mind I was thinking illegal is Al Capone. Alien, I had just seen the movie with Sigourney Weaver. I was confused what it was. I had to ask a couple of friends what it was," said Briceño.
Even with no green card, Briceño held several jobs - including a translator for the Drug Enforcement Agency.
"The little English that I do know, I learned on my own - closed captions, reading newspapers," said Briceño.
Briceño has written a book, "Confessions of an Undocumented Immigrant," he says to debunk the myths about illegals.
And while he supports immigration reform, he is against Georgia House Bill 87. The bill authorizes state and local police to verify the immigration status of suspected criminals and requires employers to do the same for prospective new hires.
"We are not criminals. If you consider a crime working, then you need to re-think your whole life. Because working is what makes you who you are," said Briceño.
Briceño is now a legal U.S. resident living in Atlanta. He proposes making the green card process easier for those undocumented immigrants already living here and a national ID to discourage more from coming. But he says the American dream is a concept that everyone is trying to materialize.
"If you could find some people in the world that could say no, I don't want freedom, no I don't want liberty, no I don't want to pursue happiness, where are you going to find people like that?"
House Bill 87 has passed in the Georgia house. The Georgia senate takes up the bill after they return from Spring break.
See myfoxatlanta.com for more stories from Fox 5 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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