I will not live in fear. And neither will the 700,000 undocumented immigrants like me.
Two years ago, when President Donald Trump moved to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, I said, “I’ll see you in court, Mr. President.” Now, the casethat bears my name, McAleenan v. Vidal, isone of three consolidated cases that has reached the highest court in the land. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on which my future hangs.
As a person who depends on DACA to remain in this country, I vividly remember that September day in 2017 when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s decision to terminate the program that protects undocumented immigrants like myself from deportation. I was at the rehabilitation center where I work, helping a therapist with a patient. My phone wouldn’t stop buzzing from text messages and calls from my friends — the news broke, what were we going to do? My stomach tightened, my body felt weak, tears welled in my eyes. My best friend sent me a message, “That’s it. It’s over.”
But it was not over. As scary as that moment was, I didn’t let fear consume me. The immigration story of my family has centered on our resilience — to cross the border, to make it to New York, and to make it in New York — and no presidential decree could take that away from me. DACA has changed my life and protected my family: It has allowed me to go back to school, start my career, and feel safe with my family knowing I wouldn’t be separated from them. And I knew that, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth across the country and our allies, we would fight to keep it.
Fight it we have, with immigrant youth, immigrant rights organizations, and many states challenging the administration’s reckless decision to end DACA. Thousands of us have taken to the streets and proudly come out as undocumented across the country. We have marched, protested, taken over congressional offices, and even put our bodies on the line to demand dignity and respect for all of our communities. And, because of this persistence, we have won in the courts. The program remains in place for now.
But today the Supreme Court is considering President Trump’s unlawful termination of the DACA program. Courts across the country have repeatedly agreed that the Trump’s administration termination of DACA was arbitrary and capricious, and now the question lies with the highest court.