Fighting for My Family: Supreme Court Hears U.S. v Texas

Zessna Garcia-Rios

American Dream Fellow 2015 - 2016


Since November of last year, my family and I have been patiently awaiting the Supreme Court case of United States v. Texas. The weekend before the hearing, I made the decision to be present in D.C. for the hearing. I am a DACA beneficiary and I have been legally working, with my work permit, for the past three years. My life drastically changed in the span of a year. I went from babysitting, helping my dad in his construction work, to working in a Tyson Foods internship position. DACA transformed my life completely.

When Deferred Action for Parents of Americans was first announced, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace for my parents. My parents and I moved from Mexico to the United States when I was three years old. My parents speak English pretty well and have been heavily involved in my siblings' and my education. We've made Arkansas our home for 24 years. My parents would be prime candidates for DAPA.

Sunday, April 17th, I got on a plane and headed to Washington, D.C. The morning of the hearing, I took a car ride to the steps of the Supreme Court. I had been in Washington, D.C. several times before, but this one was different. In years past, I had come to fight for the DREAM Act, to fight for Undocumented Youth, but this time I was there to fight for my parents. There were individuals waiting patiently in line to have their 3 minutes in the courtroom and just beyond that line was a group gathering in front of the steps. I began to hear "What do we want? DAPA? When do we want it? NOW!" A group of journalist from all major media sources were lined up to the right of the group. As I walked through the crowd, I saw men, women, and children of different walks of life and different racial and ethnic backgrounds. I felt chills as I walked passed the crowds of families and friends that gathered in front of the court. At that moment I was reminded of my parents. I saw my dad's face in every sun-kissed laborer's face. I saw my mom's face in every mother lovingly looking at her children as she held up signs that read "Keep Families Together."

The crowd grew larger as the morning went on. More groups joined, the Democracy Now protesters walked through and joined, the We Need Nine movement joined also. The whole morning I was overwhelmed with emotion. Jose Antonio Vargas, Sophie Cruz, Gaby Pacheco, and several others walked out of the Supreme Courts holding hands with giant smiles on their faces. There was so much power in the imagery of undocumented, formerly undocumented, and documented U.S. Citizens, walking down the steps of the highest court in the land. As Jose Antonio Vargas pointed out, the fact that the rights of undocumented American immigrants were being discussed in the Supreme Court was already a giant step forward. Millions of people were being represented on Monday, April 18th. The final decision on the case of United States v. Texas won't be known until June of this year. My parents and even my personal future were being decided upon in that courtroom.

I left D.C. feeling a sense of hope. I felt once again that there were people out there thinking of us. For a moment, I wasn't in D.C. as a Fellow at the Cisneros Center, I was there as a formerly undocumented immigrant. I was in D.C. as the child of immigrants, whose future was hanging on the line. I left D.C. with a rejuvenated heart and a much deeper love for my Arkansas community. June will be the most significant month for my family, for me, and for our communities affected by this historical decision.

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