We were dealt a huge blow by the Supreme Court of the United States’ 4-4 ruling on the U.S. v. Texas case. This ruling meant that Expanded DACA and DAPA would not become a reality; Instead, countless individuals in our communities would continue to live their lives in the shadows. Up until Thursday, June 23, our families, our stories, and our faces were shown by the media and given attention. We were newsworthy then. But on Friday, June 24, the news cycle moved on to the next hot topic. Meanwhile, our families remained the same: undocumented and fearful, at risk of being separated.
It pained us to know that our struggles were so easily forgotten. So many individuals bravely shared their stories of resilience and their need to be recognized as human beings in American society. And yet nothing had changed. We knew that we had to keep fighting, but we were also in the process of healing and accepting that we had to keep moving forward.
While the media attention may have shifted, we wanted to share our appreciation with members of Congress who supported Expanded DACA and DAPA and fought beside us. We wanted to let them know that our families were still here and hurting, but hopeful.
Weeks after the Court’s decision, we organized a fly-in to Washington D.C. Individuals from across the country came together on Thursday, July 14, to both thank the elected officials who championed our cause and remind them to keep fighting for our communities.
For some of the participants, it was our first time visiting Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress. Among these first-timers was Jonathan Sanchez, a U.S. citizen. Jonathan’s mother is undocumented and would have been eligible for DAPA. He wanted to remind members of Congress that immigrants are hard-working and only seeking a better life for their children. “As her son, I’ve seen [my mother] work hard in every job she’s done to make sure that my siblings and I had food on the table,” shared Jonathan.
We met with both Republican and Democrat members of Congress like Congressman Valadao (R-CA), Congressman Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Congressman Gutierrez (D-IL), Congressman Castro (D-TX), and others.
DAPA-eligible participant Marlene Burga had the opportunity to share her story with Congressman Gutierrez. “[It is] so important for me to know that we can have a direct conversation with our legislators who understand we need to have better results for immigration reform,” said Burga. “I know that we can work together to keep pushing our country forward, a country with millions of parents like myself that live in fear of being separated away from their children.”
A shared reflection we were left with at the end of the day was that we are stronger together; We must keep fighting as a group. Our communities depend on a unified approach to fix our broken immigration system–an approach where impacted individuals and Congressional representatives listen to one another to find the best solution.
“[This opportunity] helped [me] realize that the fight for immigration reform is not one of ‘us vs. them,’ but rather a fight that we are all in this together. It was a testament to the fact that there are still lawmakers interested in advancing the common good, as well as representatives who are willing to give a voice to those whose calls for help are often–too often–shut out,” said participant Jesus Rodriguez.
Our conversations with these congressmen and women gave us a glimpse of hope. They helped us gain some closure after the defeat in the Supreme Court. But more importantly, they reminded us that there is a lot of work to be done to show people that comprehensive immigration reform must be a priority in 2017. As immigrants, and children of immigrants, we are committed to this fight.
Join us and tell Congress it’s time to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation during the first 100 days of 2017.