Gabriel and his wife are living in the United States without documents. The couple's 7-year-old was born in the country.
Mostly self-employed during his 12 years in the country, Gabriel, who refused to provide his last name, most recently owned a pizza restaurant in the East Bay and employed five people.
Gabriel recently sold his restaurant in order to raise cash for a food products business he said will employ 20 people as soon as he gets the permits.
"I get emotional thinking about this because the American dream is real," Gabriel said. "You can make your dreams come true here."
But the election of Donald Trump as US president has rocked his dream.
Gabriel is one of millions of undocumented immigrants worried about possible deportation. He admits he was thinking of leaving the country last week, but now has decided to stay and fight deportation if it comes to that.
"It will take centuries to deport 11 million people," he said. "I hope everybody will realize that and the same."
Nearly one-third of the nation's undocumented population lives in California.
Angela Chan, a senior staff attorney at immigrants rights office Asian Law Caucus, said deportation proceedings can take a long time.
While the president-elect is clearly hostile to undocumented immigrants, Chan said Trump's word is not the last word.
"We do have the constitution, we do have federal statues, and we do have federal court decisions that have protected the rights of immigrants for a very long time," Chan said.
Gabriel said like Trump, he will use the system to his advantage.
"I'm a good guy," Gabriel said. "I work hard, I pay taxes -- more taxes than Trump."
On Monday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he would give up federal funds rather than scrap the city's sanctuary city policy.
But Chan said legally the federal government cannot withhold funds to force a local government to take on the duties of the federal government.