Posted July 10, 2015 - 2:30pmUpdated July 10, 2015 - 2:49pm


Several children of undocumented parents on Friday asked Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt to see how their lives would change if their parents were deported.

Yovanna Ozuna, 9, whose both parents are undocumented, said she doesn’t want any families to be separated.

“If our parents are gone, who is going to love us?” she asked. “Who is going to take care of us when we are sick?”

Ozuna was among several children, parents and immigration activists in Las Vegas who delivered petitions asking Laxalt to drop the state from a legal challenge of President Barack Obama’s executive action protecting 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Obama’s action expanded a program to shield from deportation immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He also ordered protection for undocumented immigrants who are relatives of U.S. citizens and those of permanent residents.

At the end of January, Laxalt announced that Nevada would join 25 other states in the lawsuit. His office responded in writing when asked about the petitions, which bore 48,136 signatures.

“This lawsuit is not politically motivated, nor is it an attack on immigrant families, as some activists have asserted,” the statement reads. “This nation was founded on the doctrine of the separation of powers, in order to prohibit one person from taking unilateral action. This lawsuit aims to protect and honor this doctrine by placing this action back into the hands of Congress, where it belongs.”

The office “respects the constitutional rights of those who would like to demonstrate and make their voices known, but stresses that this lawsuit transcends immigration policy entirely,” according to the statement.

The case was heard Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans. Astrid Silva, a high-profile Las Vegas immigration activist and organizing director for Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, was at the hearing.

There are at least 145,000 undocumented immigrants living in Nevada. About 53,000 would be eligible for one of the deportation-prevention programs, which were halted in February as part of the ongoing litigation.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada gathered the petition signatures.

About 1,500 Nevada residents signed the petitions, said PLAN official Laura Martin. Most were from other states or countries.

Aida Lopez, 42, mother of five, would quality for the benefits to prevent her from being deported.

Her husband was deported in February 2014, though she was able to get an extension to remain in the country because of her children. She works at a restaurant and cleans houses.

“So I can provide for my children,” she said in Spanish as her 11-year-old daughter, Dalila Oliva Lopez, watched with tears in her eyes.

If Dalila could have a wish come true, it would be for her father to come back, she said.

“It’s kind of hard,” she said. “I used to see him in the mornings when I would wake up, now I only see my mom and my sisters.”

Lopez hasn’t heard from her husband in about a year.

“I can’t explain,” she said in tears as she told of her family’s separation without knowing whether she’ll ever reconnect with her husband.