When Ali Samana came to the United States from Pakistan as a 13-year old, he immediately adopted America as his home. “This is my country of choice,” he says. “I make a conscious choice every day to be an American.” Nearly 20 years later, Samana is a U.S. citizen, a Navy Reservist, and an entrepreneur with two fast-growing businesses to his name, which earn more than a combined $3 million in annual revenue and employ roughly 15 people. “America is already great,” Samana says. “This is the only nation where a 32-year-old can have businesses in various industries, serve in the military, and have received a top education.”
Samana’s businesses are both based in the Dallas area. The first, Cheap Electric Now, launched in 2011 and serves as an energy broker to sell electricity to hotels, motels, and gas stations. The second, 1 Solar Solution, launched in 2015 and designs and installs solar panels and systems. “When I talk about my businesses, I’m not bragging,” Samana says. “My story is only possible in this land of opportunity. And don’t get me wrong, it’s grueling work, but there are countries where these possibilities just don’t exist.”
People who come here illegally aren’t coming here to commit crime—they’re escaping something and searching for hope.
Samana vividly remembers his transition to life in the United States. His aunt and uncle—who were already here—adopted him so he could escape the violence in Pakistan in the 1990s. “I came here legally,” Samana says. “But I can’t imagine what that transition is like for people who enter illegally and are also dealing with the fear of being caught. People who come here illegally aren’t coming here to commit crime—they’re escaping something and searching for hope.”
Samana used to be an active Republican but severed ties after the Tea Party rose to power. “Things became xenophobic and I became self-conscious,” he explains, adding that he now considers himself an independent voter. Following the election in November, he’d like to see immigration reform that makes it easier for hard-working people and bright minds to enter the country, and shorter wait times for visas granted to high-skilled workers. Immigration isn’t Samana’s only political concern–he would like to see lower taxes—“but as far as keeping us safe and secure,” he says, ”I already feel safe and secure! We need to be a nation of optimism and ideas, not a nation that runs on fear.”