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Brownwood woman shares story of immigrant past, success

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BROWNWOOD, Texas - Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott applauded the U.S Supreme Court's split decision on immigration Thursday. The decision sent President Obama's 2014 executive action on immigration back to a lower court, where a judge ruled against the president.

This decision could affect the future of the estimated 1.7 million undocumented immigrants living in Texas. Etla Van Horne understands their struggle very well. She's a permanent U.S. resident living in Brownwood, but she's originally from Panama.

"When my husband died, I had a [nursing] license," she said. "I thought, ‘Ok, my kids want to stay in [Mexico], maybe I could get a job.' So I came over the border and looked for a job."

She instead ended up finding a job at a university in Mexico as a nursing instructor. But her dream was to live and teach in the United States.

"That's the beauty of teaching in nursing ... you're doing more," she said. "You're preparing more nurses."

Van Horne eventually received a work visa in 2003 that brought her to Texas. She taught at a university near Fort Worth, but once the visa expired, she returned home.

"I [didn't] want to be illegal in this country," she said. "I thought about the future, if I needed to fix my [immigration] papers, that [would] count against me."

Van Horne returned to Texas in 2011 after landing a teaching job at Ranger College's nursing school. She became a permanent resident of the U.S. that year and recently applied for her citizenship.

She hopes to get the results of her citizenship in July and wants to bring her daughter from Mexico.

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