Currents News Staff
Eliana Fernandez left her Long Island home more than two weeks ago to walk 230 miles to the steps of the Supreme Court.
She’s one of the plaintiffs suing the Trump administration for its decision to end the program that currently protects her from deportation: DACA.
“As a parent, one of the biggest fears I have is losing protection against deportation that could lead to me being separated from my children. That’s something that is in my head every day,” she explained.
Eliana came illegally to the U.S. from Ecuador when she was 14, and has lived undocumented in New York for 17 years.
She struggled as a mom to her now 7 and 12 year old kids, but when President Obama announced the deferred action for childhood arrivals program, or DACA, in 2012, Eliana felt like she finally had a place in the country she called home.
“When DACA came around, I was able to get better jobs. I returned to school. I spent hours and days away from my children. always thinking in my head that in the end everything will be worth it, and it was until the Trump administration took office.”
The Trump administration announced it would end DACA in September 2017 as part of the president’s plan to crack down on illegal immigration.
“In some of the cases they’re having DACA and they’re gang members and drug dealers too,” said Trump.
According to the Trump administration, President Obama never had the authority to enact DACA in the first place, allowing President Trump to easily end it.
But groups like the National Immigration Law Center immediately sued. Several federal courts agreed and ruled that the Trump administration did not adequately explain why it was ending DACA, making the wind down illegal.
“The Roberts court has a very easy way forward which is uphold the lower courts’ decisions and basically say, ‘no the administration did not follow the proper procedures in ending the DACA program,” said Marielena Hincapie, the National Immigration Law Center’s executive director.
“I’m giving back to this country. I’m paying taxes. We contribute to this amazing country in many different ways,” said Eliana. “We are Americans in every way but papers. And I want people to understand and see that.”
Antonio Alarcon, another plaintiff in the case, came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico when he was 10. At age 25, he wants the nine Justices to think about the lives their decision could impact.
“I would tell them to see our humanity. At the end of the day, we are Americans,” he said. “We belong here, and we are humans just as them.”