Like most people, Veronica Alberto, 26, of Harrisonburg, doesn’t remember anything from when she was 1 year old.
But that was when her parents, Omar Alberto and Alicia Morales, set out from Guanajuato, Mexico, on a four-day trek to the United States, crossing the Rio Grande into Texas.
Now, Veronica Alberto is one of the estimated 700,000 active recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy that allows her to live and work in the United States — a policy the Trump administration has sought to end.
“Yes, they brought us over illegally, but they did it out of pure love,” Alberto said. “It wasn’t to vandalize America. It wasn’t to bring any type of harm into the United States — it was out of pure love.”
Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the Trump administration’s winding down of the program was done was legally.
In response, nearly 150 area residents attended a candlelight rally at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church family center in Harrisonburg on Monday to show their support for DACA and other immigration programs and bills.
One such bill, H.R. 6, would provide a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants, Veronica Alberto said.
The bill was passed in the House of Representatives on June 4 with 230 Democrats and 7 Republicans in favor and 187 Republicans against, according to the congressional web portal. One of those opposed was Rep. Ben Cline, R-Lexington.
The Republican-controlled Senate received and read the bill on June 5. The most recent action the bill has seen was that it was read for a second time on June 10.
Residents swapped stories and proclaimed support for immigrants in America no matter what programs, policies and visas are used to keep them in the country, or “home” as activists and immigrants said.
“Most people who are immigrants think they are alone in this — they think they don’t have any support,” Alberto said. “So when I see a full community, not just Latinos, come together and support this, it’s mind-blowing knowing we have such a big support system.”
After the vigil, the crowd went inside the center to hear more about immigration law, and then members of the crowd called the offices of U.S. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., to voice their support for DACA and other immigration programs.
Ultimately, the senators will not have an effect on the Supreme Court’s decision, but activists still said it is worth calling representatives to make permanent residency a legislative issue.
“If we come together as one and bring this up to the Senate, we just grow from there,” Alberto said. “We need to keep pushing — if we just let this die down this will never surface back up.”
Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, Alberto has remained optimistic about remaining in America through legal means.
“I feel like there’s more support nowadays with DACA than there ever was,” she said.