As I sat in the United States Supreme Court, listening to the arguments for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals case, I realized I was witnessing a critical, historic American moment. DACA recipients, like myself, sat in front of the highest court of the land, holding our collective breath. We were there not only to witness the moment, but to put a face to the 700,000 DACA recipients who stand to lose the ability to work, be protected from deportation, and live freely in the only country we call home.
I sat amongst other DACA recipients listening to lawyers argue for and against my right to live in America. The gravity of the moment sunk in as I locked eyes with Chief Justice John Roberts. Here in front of me, were nine people who will be responsible for deciding the fate of the program that changed hundreds of thousands of lives.
When I was two years old, my family made the tough decision to make the journey from Mexico to the United States, where I grew up surrounded by mountains in a small, tight-knit community. I grew up calling the United States home but was always scared that my life in America could end at any moment because I didn’t have the right “papers.” As a queer undocumented Latina, deportation to a country I barely know would mean a heightened risk of persecution and the end of being able to live my truth.
All of this changed when DACA was announced.
Since its enactment, DACA has brought me and my fellow DACA recipients the relief and freedom to live our lives as the Americans we’ve always been, to emerge from the shadows and continue to live a vibrant life of hope and opportunity. No longer did I feel the imminent threat of deportation or that my life would be ripped out from under me at any second. For the 67,000 DACA recipients that identify as LGBTQ+, we’ve been able to be our true selves.
DACA allowed me to obtain a college education and help provide for my family, and for that, I am forever grateful. Since then, I have spent my time like many working Americans, earning a living, spending time with friends and family, and simply trying to do my best for my community and neighbors.
But ever since September 5, 2017, when President Trump announced he would be terminating DACA, my future in this country is once again uncertain. This agenda to upend the lives of DACA recipients will not only harm my family and countless others like me, but it will also become detrimental to communities, health care, and the economy. Ending DACA will continue the Trump administration’s xenophobic practice of family separation as DACA recipients face the threat of being forcefully removed from our homes and families.
During the Trump administration’s two-year-long fight to end DACA, I’ve often felt anxious but I’ve also felt joy and strength as I’ve joined my community in fighting back and growing our power.
After the oral arguments, we walked down the steps of the Supreme Court, hands held high up in the sky, chanting, “Home is Here!” We all became a part of the pages of American history. For us, as DACA recipients and undocumented Americans, we showed our faces to the justices and braved our souls to America by sharing our stories. We know we are Americans. We are a resilient force, and we’ll continue to fight to be able to thrive in the country we call home.
The question now is, what side of history does America want to be on?
Sara Gomez Horta is an immigration advocate and DACA recipient. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English Literature with a minor in Law, Rights, and Justice and currently lives in Washington, D.C.