The Court Has Spoken, We Feel the Pain

Finally, after years of anxiously waiting for the Supreme Court to determine their future- millions of families across America will continue to live with the fear of separation and deportation. Today’s 4–4 tie vote sets no precedent but leaves in place the ruling by a lower court, which has blocked the implementation of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration. In doing so, today the Court has upheld the status quo in which families continue to be ripped apart.

That is truly saddening.

I stood outside the Supreme Court this morning at around 7 am. Before I left my house and made my way to the Court, I decided to pray. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually pray, but today felt different. I prayed for guidance, strength and for the wisdom to see clearly regardless of outcome.

On a rainy DC day, I was thrilled and inspired to see children, chanting “si se puede!,” holding posters, some of which read “ Dignity and Justice for Immigrants” or “Don’t Deport my Dad/Mom.” The courage and optimism in these children fueled my own strength for standing outside the Court this morning. These children could care less about the rain or whether it was too early in the morning, but somehow they knew that they needed to be there, that they had the responsibility to serve as a voice- for themselves, for their community, for their families.

At some point, as we waited, an announcement was made regarding an Affirmative Action case, a win that was momentarily confused with a win on DACA+/DAPA. Immediately, I saw those same children jump and cheer with excitement. Unfortunately, that was not the outcome for immigrant families today.

While the fight remains, I saw the disappointment and heartbreak in the faces of those families standing outside the Court. It broke me, because that was perhaps the pain that I felt when I sat in a congressional office awaiting President Obama’s announcement in 2014- the moment when I learned that my parents were not included in these relief programs. It was perhaps the pain that I felt in being the one breaking the news to my parents,in having the responsibility to explain to families why justice was denied, time and time, again. Like those children, I felt the responsibility to be present, to be the voice, to fight for my own, but I lost. Or at least, that is how it felt.

The reality is that these programs wouldn’t be brought into question if immigrants were recognized and valued as people. If the 26 states pushing against these programs recognized the inherent human dignity for each of its residents, immigrant, legal and undocumented alike.

It’s more than a work permit, it’s more than reprieve from deportation. It is the ability to have this coat of invisibility removed, to be able to carry an ordinary life in conditions that have been nothing short from extraordinary struggle and sacrifice.

The Court has spoken, but its decision will be most felt in the day-to-day lives of real people — as parents go to work with a looming fear of being targeted for deportation; in our nation’s classrooms, as children deal with the anxiety of whether their parents will be home after school; across communities, where women will continue to delay or forgo the healthcare that they need.

Equality under the law means nothing when those subject to the law have not been recognized as people.

Tomorrow, just like any other day, my mother will wake up to care for her children. Tomorrow, just like any other day, my Dad will get up to go to work, despite suffering from the chronic pain of an untreated illness due to misguided healthcare policies which deny care to people like him. Tomorrow, just like any other day, millions of families will continue to live in the shadows, waiting anxiously for relief.

Today, the Court had the opportunity to undo a wrong and uphold those values which bind us together as a nation of immigrants. Today, the Court failed families and community across America.

As Lorde so poignantly said, “there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.”

Tomorrow, we get up, and continue fighting until justice prevails in every corner of our nation.

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