Friday, January 12, 2007
For What It's Worth: Financial Freedom
America is known as the land of opportunity, and it can be. But immigrants who come here to claim the American dream don't realize they are in for an uphill battle. Seven's Craig Stevens says, For What It's Worth, the road to financial freedom has a lot of bumps along the way.
WSVN -- The American flag is a symbol of freedom and the dream of millions of people who flock to the land of opportunity. But the American dream isn't easy to obtain.
Florencia Rodriguez: "This is all my family -- my father, my mom, my sister-in-law, my sisters."
Florencia Rodriguez left her family behind in Argentina to come to the U.S. when she was just 24 years old.
Florencia Rodriguez: "I don't know the language. I need to learn English. I don't know anybody here."
7 News' financial expert Ken Wurtenberg says the language barrier is just one of the many obstacles immigrants face. It's hard for them to get work, and when they do, they don't know our tax laws.
Ken Wurtenberg: "They're entering a new country. They're usually coming from a third world country where the rules and regulations are completely different, not as stringent as in the U.S."
Many don't file taxes because they just don't know how seriously we take it here.
Ken Wurtenberg: "Most of those countries, they don't even file income tax returns because they're not required, or, if they're required, they ignore it, and it's not enforced."
Making poor financial decisions is also common.
Ken Wurtenberg: "There are a lot of predators that prey on them. They could be from their own country but have been in the U.S. and take advantage of them financially."
The most common problem is loans with very high interest rates. Immigrants need money because it takes of lot of cash to establish permanent residency in the U.S.
Ken Wurtenberg: "This application to register permanent residence or adjust status is $385."
So they often agree to the terms of any loan, just to get money.
Florencia Rodriguez: "This is me and my brother Flavio in Argentina. "
For Florencia, it's been a long journey. But now, she is happily married and learning to speak English. She is also studying to become a U.S. Citizen.
Florencia Rodriguez: "My dream is to work for this country, so I feel good here. This is my second home."
Many also avoid seeking help for financial problems because they fear attracting attention might cause them to lose their immigration status.
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