Katherine Figueroa, who obtained a moral victory over Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio when immigration authorities suspended legal proceedings against her undocumented parents, called the win "bittersweet," since her family's future in the United States remains uncertain.
"I'm happy that so much struggle has served to close the case, but I'm also afraid that at any time they might want to reopen (it)," the 13-year-old U.S. citizen told Efe.
The story began four years ago, when Katherine, then 9, was stunned to see television news footage of her parents, Sandra and Carlos Figueroa, in custody after one of Arpaio's controversial workplace raids.
"It's a moment I'll never forget, seeing my parents on television, handcuffed and being loaded into police trucks," she said.
Sandra and Carlos were working at a carwash in Phoenix when they were surprised by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies.
Since then, Katherine has put down her dolls and toys to become an active voice asking for her parents' release.
She appeared before a U.S. congressional committee in 2010 to express the pain suffered by the children of undocumented immigrants upon being separated from their parents, and her story was told on the documentary "Dos Americanos."
"I want people to know our story, so that they take note of the fact that what's important is not to remain silent, and that if they speak up many things can change," Katherine said.
Last Friday, after a four-year battle, the final hearing in the Figueroa family case was held in an immigration court, where authorities dropped all the charges.
But because Carlos and Sandra Figueroa pleaded guilty to identity theft, which is a felony, they could find themselves barred from naturalization even if Congress passes immigration reform.
For now, they are waiting to begin a "new chapter" and continue working, to provide a better future for Katherine and their other daughter, 2-year-old Alondra.
"I feel very proud of my daughter. We feel that she matured at such an early age. She didn't just stay in a corner crying, she never gave up," Sandra Figueroa said. EFE