The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 88

written by ANNE SAMPSON

The Economic Impact of
Immigration in Roanoke
Growing contributions from immigrants in the region have
made a substantial impact to our local economy.

W

HEN SANTIAGO CRUZ arrived in the U.S.
in 1992, at the age of 19, he was a pretty typical
immigrant. He's from Honduras, in Central
America, where opportunity was in short supply. His sister
already lived in the Roanoke area, which made it logical for
him to come here. He spoke no English. The need for work
led him to food service, and he wound up at Sake House, a
Japanese restaurant in Salem, where he was eventually offered
the opportunity to learn to make sushi.
Aptitude helped him become an expert sushi chef. Ambition
led him to open Wasabi's, a popular sushi restaurant on the City
Market. Wasabi's has been a lunch and dinner anchor on the
88

MAY/JUNE 2019

market for years. Cruz now employs other immigrants from
Honduras, China and Cambodia, as well as Americans. He has
three full-time and seven part-time employees.
"I'm lucky that my father taught us to work hard," says Cruz
of himself and his seven siblings. "This was my dream. To
achieve something." He saved money for 13 years to open his
own restaurant.
"It was scary," he continues. "The restaurant business is very
risky. I was afraid to make a mistake and lose everything."
Among the negative ideas current in the popular mind
regarding immigrants to the U.S., both legal and unauthorized,
is that they represent a drain on a community's resources. The
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The Roanoker - May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2019

The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover2
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 3
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The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover3
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover4
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