Attorney, undocumented, advocates for other immigrants
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - His mother's dream is Cesar Vargas's American story.
"She risked everything to give me a better life," he said.
He is 33 years old now, but was just 5 when he crossed from Mexico to the United States with his mother, Teresa.
Cesar's father had just died. Opportunities for the family in the city of Puebla were scarce. So she decided to cross to join her other children already in the U.S. They moved to New York as undocumented immigrants. Teresa worked odd jobs. Cesar studied and eventually went to law school.
"If she can cross and put her life in danger, being at risk of being raped, killed, I can be an attorney," he said,
After passing the bar and a 4-year legal fight, he won a court battle becoming the first openly undocumented lawyer in the Empire State.
"The reason I am telling my story is because there is a critical need to know who this population is," he said.
Under a new administration, he is defending and representing others in his situation. It is a feeling he knows well. He does not have his citizenship and is protected by DACA, President Obama's executive order to protect undocumented children.
A stroke of the pen now could change everything.
"I'm not going to let fear dictate what I do during the next four years," Cesar said. "I am an American and Americans are fearless, and we're going to push that narrative out there."
Like Teresa and her dream: overcoming fear.
"I am worried, but I'm not afraid," she told Fox 5 News.
Cesar also worked with the Bernie Sanders campaign focusing on Latino outreach. He is the co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition, a community organization advocating for immigrant rights and citizenship.