Honduran, Dania Palma, will be one of the hundreds of immigrants who will attend Monday's Supreme Court hearing on President Barrack Obama's controversial executive action to limit deportations.
Like many she will be praying to be reunited with a loved one who was caught up in the political battle over U.S. immigration law that has seen Republicans in Congress seeking to thwart effort by the White House to institute reforms designed to protect immigration children and their parents from separation.
"We hope that the judges vote in favor of the executive action to put an end to the raids of those of us who have American children," said Palma, whose husband, César Alberto Ramírez was deported in August 2015 and killed a month later by a criminal gang in Honduras.
Her husband was arrested on July 23, 2015 in Miami for a traffic violation. The police, realizing he had no driver's license and was in the country illegally, handed him over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
"He asked them not to (deport him) because his life was in danger, but they did not listen. On September 21, two days before making his return trip here with his family, he was killed," said Dania. "He had no criminal record."
Ramírez had been arrested at the Texas border in 2001 when he tried to enter the country undocumented. A few days later he was deported.
"In such cases, when a person has been deported and then tries to return without authorization, at the moment they cross the border, they get a punishment for life and do not qualify for any type of immigration benefit," said immigration lawyer Alex Galvez.
"But there are some exceptions when the person’s life is in danger in the place where he was deported. In such cases, he may make a request for asylum," he added.
DAPA and DACA
The Executive Action on Immigration was announced by Obama on November 20, 2014 but never went into effect.
It was designed to protect from deportation about 5 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and young undocumented immigrants who came as children to the country, known as 'Dreamers.' Both groups had been granted temporary protection under previous orders in 2012, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Two weeks after it was announced a group of 26 states (24 of them ruled by Republicans) sued the program arguing that Obama had exceeded the bounds of his executive power and had violated the Constitution by changing the law, something that can only be done by Congress.
In February last year, a district court in Brownsville, Texas, stopped the DACA and DAPA programs from taking effect, a ruling that was ratified in November by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New of Orleans.
On November 20, the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to review the executive action. The court set a hearing for Monday, April 13 in order for government lawyers as well as the attorneys for the 26 states to present their arguments.
The ruling will be known in the summer and will decide whether the DACA and DAPA programs will be activated.
Another attorney, Ezequiel Hernández, added that people like Ramírez who were deported and reentered the country illegally still could benefit from DAPA because their offense is not included among the deportation priorities issued by ICE on the same day Obama announced the executive action.
Ramírez did not know that and did not have the opportunity to present himself at the border and argue that he feared for his life in Honduras.
"My husband qualified for DAPA", said Dania. "If they had not deported him, he would be here with me and my kids waiting for the Supreme Court to rule ... because we are parents of an American child."
During Obama’s administration, ICE has deported more than 2.5 million undocumented immigrants. During the 2015 fiscal year, the figure reached 235,413 undocumented immigrants, of which 41.1% of them had no criminal record, like Ramirez.
Organizations defending the rights of immigrants expect some 4,000 people to congregate outside the Supreme Court on Monday.
Immigration activists say the goal "is to show the stories of immigrants who qualify for DACA and DAPA, and their contributions to America. They are valuable people who do not have criminal records and are waiting for an opportunity to legalize their stays," said Carlos Vogel with the Center for Community Change (CCC).