By Mario Carrillo
On Jan. 28, 2021, the lives of my wife, Angélica Rodríguez Hernandez, and I changed forever after she gave birth to our daughter Izel. She’s perfect in every way.
When Izel was just 6 months old, we applied for her U.S. passport because we’re hopeful that her mom will soon have her interview in the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez that will allow her, after 25 years of living in the United States, including the last 10 years with DACA, to become a legal permanent resident.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrives and is a federal immigration policy that protects people who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.
We are what is known as a mixed-status family. I am a naturalized U.S. citizen, born in Mexico and raised in El Paso, while my wife is DACA-recipient, also born in Mexico and raised in Utah. Our daughter is a U.S. citizen by birth thanks to the 14th Amendment, which guarantees her citizenship because she was born here, regardless of her parents’ immigration status. And, she’s not alone. Of the 29 million residents of Texas, there are almost 1,000,000 U.S. citizen children living with an undocumented parent.
And now, with the leaked Supreme Court ruling that might be coming on Roe vs. Wade, many Republicans, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have set their sights on other Supreme Court rulings that they’d like to see overturned that would impact millions of families, including families like ours.
One example is the 1982 decision on Plyler vs. Doe, which struck down state statutes that sought to prevent children of undocumented parents, or undocumented children themselves, from accessing public education.
You see, to Greg Abbott, my daughter is not deserving of her citizenship. To him, my wife and her family don’t belong in his version of America. If Gov. Abbott had it his way, my wife would be deported back to a country she left more than 25 years ago, and my daughter’s citizenship status should be questioned.
If you think this is a stretch, Gov. Abbott himself has said that this ruling is worth exploring to see if it might be overturned, due to the “burden” faced by the state in having to educate children, regardless of theirs or their parents’ immigration status. He sees children like 15-month-old Izel only as a burden, and not as the future of our state.
Texas Republicans have made it clear that they intend on attacking immigrants in the state, regardless of the contributions that we’ve made or how long we’ve been here. And Gov. Abbott’s attacks on the children of immigrants proves that Republicans, whose argument has long been that they support immigrants who “do it the right way,” are untruthful, and they don’t care if their policies harm immigrants here legally or otherwise.
That our daughter might be made to feel less than because of her mother’s immigration status is heartbreaking. That our state’s leaders think that my daughter isn’t worthy of an education is an indication of how extreme the Republican Party has become.
It was Republican Gov. Rick Perry, way back in 2001, who first introduced in-state tuition to undocumented students in Texas, the first state to do so, and it’s been Texas Republicans ever since who have continually tried to strip young immigrants of this right.
It’s been Attorney General Ken Paxton who has led an all-out assault on DACA, challenging the program in the courts, a program that not only my wife benefits from, but more than 100,000 people in Texas, and more than 600,000 around the country, as well.
The Republican Party is so far gone that even educating the state’s own children, some of whom may be U.S. citizens by birth, is a bridge too far. In a state that wants to force women to carry children to term, without any exceptions, you’d expect them to at least care for the children once they’re born.
But no, our leaders only seem intent on appeasing an ever-more extreme base, fear-mongering against immigrants, attacking women and the LGBTQ community, and scoring cheap political points on policies that are wildly unpopular.
Texans, and especially our children, deserve better.
Mario Carrillo is the campaigns manager for America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund, which seeks policy changes that secure freedom and opportunity for immigrants in the United States.