Last week, the Supreme Court broke my heart.
I was born in Puebla, Mexico and I am the daughter of two undocumented immigrants. On June 23rd the Supreme Court issued a split ruling in the United States v. Texas case to determine the legal standing of President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. These programs would have broadened the reach of the Obama administration’s original DACA program issued in 2012. DACA+ and DAPA would have provided deportation relief and work permits to five million law-abiding, hard-working immigrants. These programs would have helped protect parents, DREAMers, communities, and families – families just like mine. However, with a split ruling, these programs will remain blocked, and millions of families across our country will remain in limbo.
When I was five years-old my family’s American story began. My father left Mexico in an effort to provide more opportunities for our family. I still remember the day that my father left for the United States for the first time. I was playing outside with my cousins and all of sudden I saw him walking towards me; as I closed my eyes, he was already walking away. I never imagined that five years later I would be on the same path to the United States. It’s been 11 years since my parents made the decision to continue to pursue their dreams in America. Not a day goes by that I don’t see them work hard; they break their backs so our family can survive. DAPA would have allowed my parents to fully contribute to the country that our family calls home. It would have allowed my mother to officially register her business, and my father to work in a job that values him. It would have eliminated me and my sisters’ constant fear of waking up without our parents and never seeing them again.
In 2010, my father lost his paving job because he did not have a valid social security number. I remember him coming home and telling my mother that he wouldn’t be able to return to work. He loved his paving job. Every time we drove by a street or highway he yelled, “We work there!” and “I did that!” Despite the challenges of being undocumented, my father has never left his family without food or shelter.
My mother is the rock of our home. She has taught me and my sisters to be humble and grateful for all the opportunities that this country has given us. She always says that regardless of our immigration status, this country will be our home. I’m lucky to have a family like mine, a family filled with love and support. Yet there are some days when my body is overtaken by fear. I fear that one day I won’t come home to see my mother’s smile or hear her yell at me for not eating right. I fear that my father will lose his driver’s license because of his immigration status.
My parents never imagined the weight of being undocumented or the fear that would come with their lack of status. They left their whole lives behind and followed their hearts in coming to the United States. They made the sacrifice to immigrate to better our family. Even though my parents, like so many parents in our country, work hard to provide for their family, the fear of deportation lurks in the background of each day.
I worry that every time we sit down to eat together, it could be our last meal as a family.
DAPA would have set my family free of the fear we live with every day. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, however, my family remains stuck, my parents remain in limbo, and my sisters and I remain fearful for our future as a family.
Everyday, I stand side by side with my parents and remind them that there’s no greater sacrifice than leaving their homeland to make a better life for their children. I will continue to fight so that my parents will be able to live each day without fear. The Supreme Court’s ruling has only inspired me to continue fighting not only for my family, but also for the 11 million undocumented individuals in our country who never stop working for the American Dream. I will continue to fight for DAPA and for comprehensive immigration reforms that include every single hard-working and dedicated immigrant in the United States.
My parents have worked hard to protect and provide for me my entire life. Now, it’s my turn to try and protect them, to work hard and to fight for families.