One day, we will be Free Like the Birds

I couldn’t believe it when I read 4–4 in United States v. Texas, DAPA and Extended DACA were not going to be implemented. Numbness rushed over me. Everyone’s face that was waiting on a positive decision flashed before my eyes. I saw Jose Antonio Vargas’ smile. His smile has always comforted me, even in the scariest of times. We were in Texas a few years back, when we realized that Border Patrol wasn’t going to let him out of McAllen, Texas. In other words, he was going to be detained. When his lifelong fear of deportation was upon him, he threw his head back and LAUGHED. Imagine the strength it takes to laugh when your worst fear is staring you in the face! Jose Antonio’s smile taught me courage.

I saw the beautiful faces of Sophie Cruz and her parents Zoyla and Raul Cruz. I first became aware of Sophie like the rest of the world, when she broke through police barricades and ran to the Pope to give him a letter asking to help with immigration reform. Like millions of others, I fell in love with Sophie at that moment. A few months later, Sophie and her family came into my life. I’ve shared so many beautiful moments with Sophie and her family, but my most precious was the morning of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments. We were waiting in line for her to enter the court. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. I grabbed her hand, and we slipped onto the steps to the Supreme Court. A security guard looked away as we jumped up the stairs. I told her to put her fist up. She shot her arm into the air. She knew what her fist symbolized, she knew she was fighting for five million people like her mom and dad. I snapped the picture. I turned my phone around to get a quick selfie, but the security guard had had enough. He kicked us off the steps, but it didn’t matter because I had already captured history with Sophie. We skipped back to line. No one had even noticed we were gone.

Sophie walked into the Supreme Court with her mom a few moments later. Hours passed before she reemerged from the court. As soon as she stepped outside the court’s doors, she threw her fist into the air: a fierce warrior. At the age of six, Sophie Cruz is our nation’s conscience. She is our movement’s inspiration. She is one of our leaders. She is why we fight.

In that moment, I saw hundreds of people whom I have met throughout the years, all kind, hardworking, loving people. I saw Cris Mercado diligently working on his app. I saw Pamela Chomba having dinner with her mom and dad. I saw their eyes. I saw their smiles. I saw their tears. I saw hope disappear into a vacuum of nothingness.

So, when I heard the Supreme Court’s decision or lack thereof, anger filled me. So much anger. I wanted to punch something. I needed to punch something, but I couldn’t, so I just started crying. Tears of impotence are the worst kind. They don’t make you feel better, they actually make you feel worse. As each tear rolls down your cheek, you’re reminded that someone else has control. With each tear, you’re reminded that you fought for months, you lost sleep, didn’t see your kid as much as you should have, didn’t see friends, and had more nightmares than is healthy, and at the end, you found heartbreak.

Today will be a bad day. Today, I will cry. Today, I will be angry. Today, I will protest. Today will be what it will be.

But tomorrow, I will wake up my strength renewed. Tomorrow, I will wake up ready to fight again. Tomorrow, we will regroup, we will restrategize, we will rebuild, and we will continue onward because giving up is not an option because losing is not an option.

Free Like the Birds a short film directed by Paola Mendoza