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'I wanted to fight back': Meet the immigrant who's taking Trump to the Supreme Court over DACA

Thalia Juarez, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE -- In a crowded office in Baltimore's Station North, Maria Perales Sanchez spends most of her days working alongside a group of lawyers to win legal protections for migrant workers.

Yet her own status in the United States is uncertain.

Once protected from deportation by a federal program that covered people whose families brought them to the U.S. as children, Perales Sanchez was left in limbo in 2017. While she was a student at Princeton University, the Trump administration pulled the plug on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Princeton -- and Perales Sanchez -- decided to fight back. Now, their lawsuit will be heard in consolidation with others next week at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Princeton and other organizations argue they would be poorer without the skills and diversity DACA participants provide.

For Perales Sanchez, the reason is more personal: "I wanted to fight back."


In a brief submitted ahead of Tuesday's oral arguments, the U.S. Justice Department argues the government's decision to end DACA was justified because the creation of the program violated federal immigration law.

On Tuesday, Perales Sanchez will join about 200 immigrants and supporters on the court steps as they voice their support for DACA before the oral arguments begin.

In the small town in Guanajuato in central Mexico, where Perales Sanchez was born, most people could not afford to study beyond the sixth grade, she said. Her mom dreamed of giving her children more educational opportunities, and the family brought her to Houston without a visa when she was 8.

Moving to one of the busiest cities in the country was a shock at first, she said. A new language, a new school; it was a far cry from the ranchito of her young childhood.


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