On Monday morning, we stood outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building because, once again, we found ourselves at the mercy of a justice system weighing the legality of our presence in our own country.
This time, eight Supreme Court justices were hearing arguments in Texas v. United States to decide the validity of President Obama’s executive actions related to keeping immigrant families together. The expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Resident (DAPA) are programs that would benefit more than 4 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
For us, this is personal. The livelihoods of our families and communities are at stake. This moment is not only a matter of history in the making but a decision that will affect our mothers, siblings, and loved ones.
While the two of us represent different backgrounds, our stories and voices are similar, and they symbolize one part of the 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families living in the United States.
Leticia Trujillo: I am 23 years old. I have the privilege of having been born in this country. However, I’ve experienced significant heartbreak: My father was deported to Guatemala in 2011. I live with the constant fear that my mother could also be easily taken away for being undocumented. While I’m not afraid for myself or my security as a citizen, not a day passes when this broken system does not affect the decisions I make, such as how far away I can be from home. This Supreme Court case is personal. I will continue fighting for my family and friends. But, in all sincerity, I am weary at how long this has gone on. I have nothing left to lose but my fear. In the powerlessness of my situation and that of my family, I have no other choice but to remain faithful.
Ivone Guillen: I grew up in a “mixed-status” family. Some members are U.S. citizens and others are undocumented. This challenging reality has always weighed heavily on my heart. As an undocumented DREAMer, I also grew up with the constant fear of being separated from my mother and siblings who were also undocumented. Twenty-five years later, as a beneficiary of President Obama’s 2012 DACA program, I stand on the steps of the Supreme Court, frustrated that families like mine across this country are still facing the same daily fear of being deported. Here, outside the nation’s highest court, I testify to the blessing of no longer having to live as a second-class citizen. Now, through the DACA program, I have the opportunity to flourish. I can be a full image-bearer of God. I will not surrender this fight until we can achieve this dignity for every single person.
On Monday, as we stood alongside longtime friends and allies, we were reminded that defending the integrity of our families is not a responsibility we take lightly. We cannot walk away from this threat at the end of our workday. We cannot brush it aside until the election year ends.
We are resilient. Our strength comes from knowing that we will no longer allow families to be separated and that fear is no longer an option.
As we stood on the steps of the Supreme Court building, sun warming our skin, our strength was fortified and we were renewed in our cause for justice. People from all backgrounds and walks of life were there chanting, “Undocumented and unafraid!”
Soon the collective presence grew — taking over the sidewalk, then the street behind us. There were thousands of people chanting: “Undocumented and unafraid!”
One man testified that his worst fear was that he would be separated from his newborn. He resorted to carrying a pair of his baby’s socks in his pocket, praying each day that he would return home to his family.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) also shared, "Each generation of immigrants and their families [are] working hard to build a better future for the next,” he said. “That was the story 100 years ago, 150 years ago. And it's the story with our immigrants today."
The Supreme Court’s decision on DACA and DAPA affects the hopes and dreams of millions of people.
While many will hear only the selective opinions of political analysts and media outlets designed to keep our country divided and their ratings up, we will maintain our faith in God, who is unwavering.
The stories of our families still make a significant number of Americans uncomfortable. This discomfort creates fear, and this fear is being used for political gain. It is used to create division in our communities. But today we ask all Americans to stand for unity.
Lilla Watson, an aboriginal activist sister, is attributed with the saying, “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us walk together.”
We and our families ask that you join us in continued prayer and fasting as we put our trust in God for the Supreme Court to rule for justice.
Let us also not waver in our activism and advocacy. Let us redouble our efforts to hold members of Congress accountable to their duty to alleviate the suffering of millions of undocumented people waiting for just and humane reform of our immigration system.
For now, all eyes are on the United States — will we maintain a stagnant refusal of rights for our families, co-workers, and communities? Or will the highest court in the land be on the right side of history?