Immigration advocates rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Monday in support of President Barack Obama's executive orders extending deportation protection to an estimated 4 million people, on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue.
Anabel Cuevas is benefitting from the president's executive order, known as DACA, which allows people who were illegally brought into this country as children to apply for work permits.
Despite earning a college degree, Cuevas couldn't get a job because she was undocumented.
"I couldn't work for a few years, I had to do things other immigrants do, such as babysitting, tutoring," she said.
Cuevas says when DACA went into effect in 2012, it changed her life.
"I was able to go back to school, take out a loan and I went to a coding boot camp and learned how to do programming, and so now I'm in the tech industry being a developer," she said.
Now the expansion of DACA and another executive order protecting parents from deportation if they have children here legally are on hold while Texas and 25 other states challenge them in court. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments.
"We've been waiting a year and a half for this decision to come through that's going to fundamentally change the lives of 5 million people," said Pablo Morales of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
Local news from across Southern California
It's estimated 1.4 million Californians will be affected, including half a million in Los Angeles, which is why Mayor Eric Garcetti joined more than 100 others in filing a brief in support of the policies.
Critics say those polices reward people who broke the law and encourage other immigrants to come here illegally, while supporters say the economy depends on immigrant labor and the policies allow immigrant families to stay together.
"My parents are homeowners, they pay their taxes and they work really hard, so in reality the rhetoric is saying we're criminals, but in reality, we're just families," Cuevas said.
They are families which are eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court's decision. However the court rules, the decision is sure to keep immigration as a hot topic in the presidential race. Hispanic voters could play a large role in several battleground states.