The border was seen as a dangerous area and every presidential candidate since then has offered their solution to the “border security crisis”. This relatively new idea of a “hard” border, one with walls, checkpoints and paramilitary officers interrogating and harassing crossers, shocks me, and I know that it only serves to put lives at risk and separate families like mine. I knew from the time I left home for college that I wanted to spend my life fighting for the rights of border crossers.
I graduated from UT-Austin in 2005 with my bachelor’s degree, double majoring in Mexican-American Studies and Government. In law school, I helped open the San Antonio office of the Equal Justice Center, helping with the recovery of unpaid wages for people regardless of their immigration status, and volunteered with the St. Mary’s University Law School Immigration and Human Rights Clinic.
I graduated from St. Mary’s Law School in 2010 and received a Texas Access to Justice Fellowship to continue working with the Equal Justice Center, but this time back home in Brownsville.
In 2011, I accepted a position with the ACLU of Texas to open their Border Office and to work on Immigrants’ Rights Law and Policy. While with the ACLU, I had the opportunity to visit immigration detention centers and federal immigrant prisons, and interview detainees about the conditions of their confinement; testify at Congressional briefings arguing for the decriminalization of migrants; write Amicus Briefs about the unconstitutionality of cross-border shootings by Border Patrol agents; sue Border Patrol agents for unconstitutional body cavity searches; and testify against anti-immigrant bills at the Texas Legislature. While I loved my time with the ACLU doing “impact work”, finding resolution for those cases took years, and I was ready to help people with their immigration issues directly.