December 2, 2009

Deported for Tax Evasion, Dominican Leaves Wife and Two Kids in the US

I met Evan, a tall, light brown-skinned, muscular man with a pleasant demeanor, in a restaurant in the Colonial City in Santo Domingo. He agreed to tell me his story – how he ended up back in the Dominican Republic after living for thirty years in the US.

Evan moved with his family to the United States when he was 15 years old – in 1978. He entered the US as a legal permanent resident. Although he qualified for citizenship five years later, in 1983, he never got around to applying for citizenship.

Evan opted to get his G.E.D. instead of finishing high school, and got a job as a superintendent of a building in New York City soon after that. He stayed in that job for seventeen years. While he was working as a super, he met a young woman from an Indian reservation in Buffalo, who had moved to New York to attend college. They decided to get married.

In 1996, shortly after their first child was born, Evan and his wife moved to the Indian reservation where she had been raised. They figured that upstate New York would be better for their children, and his wife wanted to give back to her community. Evan got a job in a gas station, and eventually set up a business selling cigarettes online. They had another child together, and things were going very well for them.

Their online cigarette business flourished. As an American Indian living on a reservation, Evan’s wife did not have to pay taxes on her business. Evan, however, did. He failed to file taxes in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he was arrested for tax evasion. The business was in both of their names, and he had to pay taxes on his profits.

Evan went to court, and was told that he faced five years in prison for tax evasion. He hired a lawyer, and was able to get out on bail. At the end of 2006, Evan’s lawyer was able to make a deal that allowed Evan to be deported to the Dominican Republic, and he did not have to serve time for his crime.

Evan signed a voluntary departure and was sent back to Santo Domingo. His wife was left with their two children. Fortunately, she was earning good money managing a casino, and has been financially able to care for their children.

Although Evan left the Dominican Republic when he was 15, he and his brother had purchased an apartment in the Colonial Zone while they were in the US. Evan was able to move into the apartment and rent out rooms to people, in order to have an income in Santo Domingo. In addition, he has been able to find odd jobs painting, or doing plumbing or electrical work – skills he learned while he was a super in New York City.

Evan was deported at the end of 2006, three years before our interview. He may qualify for re-entry to the United States, and his wife is currently in the process of applying for his re-entry visa. He hopes to get permission to return to the US so that he can re-unite with his family and go back to his business in Buffalo.

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