Katherine gets nervous thinking about the imminent decision of the Supreme Court in United States v. Texas. The case will determine the fate of President Obama's executive actions regarding immigration - and Katherine's legal status. In the absence of a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, the case could easily divide the court's liberals and conservatives, 4-4, jeopardizing Katherine and four million others in their own, unique immigration entanglements.
Katherine was born in the Philippines in 1979. When she was 5, her parents were offered jobs at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. She and her sister were left with their grandparents in Manila.
"My mother worked in HR and my dad as a recreation director," she told me. "We saw them twice a year and only for a couple of weeks at a time. It was hard for all of us to be separated, to say the least. But, we eventually went to join them in Saudi Arabia in 1992."
The siblings were home-schooled because the nearest classroom was two hours away.
"It was fine at first, but our mom soon recognized that we should be socializing with kids our age," she said. "Later that year, my parents decided to give up their careers and head back to the Philippines, where we could attend school like normal kids. But we were only there a few months when they realized that the Philippines wasn't the best place to raise us after all. My mom had a sister in the U.S. and my aunt suggested we try our luck there. So, we came to the United States on a visa."
Two years later, the visa expired, but, having acclimated to life in this country, the family stayed. Katherine was 13.
Eventually, Katherine met Brian, an American citizen, and the two married in 2004. Brian told me he had no idea of her immigration status when they wed. And, contrary to the understanding of many, marriage alone does not confer citizenship. Complicating matters further, Brian and Katherine had two children, now ages 11 and 6, who immediately enjoyed birthright citizenship. Consequently, within this nuclear family, only Katherine is not a U.S. citizen.
Hers is the kind of case Obama sought to address with the stroke of his pen after the Senate twice passed immigration reform only to have those measures die in the House. His 2014 executive action would allow some immigrants who entered as children, or who have children who are citizens, to apply for temporary work permits and avoid deportation. But after Obama acted, Texas and 25 other states brought the current challenge.
"She wants to get right with the United States and support her family, but, unfortunately, this is where we are," Brian told me just after the Supreme Court heard arguments in April.
"If Texas loses the challenge, she would get a work permit and start the process of trying to get right. One stupid piece of paper says she cannot do this."
But if Texas prevails, Katherine would need to return to her native Philippines to renew the visa that first enabled her to come to the United States. She's reluctant to leave her husband and children to navigate that process, fearing that the bureaucracy might prevent her return. Then, she asks, where would she be? And what might be the plight of her husband and young children?
In the meantime, she has a Social Security card and a driver's license. Brian and Katherine file a joint tax return. She has worked for Brian on an unpaid basis ever since a prior employer's use of E-Verify revealed her status and ended that job. Brian rejects the labels of illegal citizen/alien for his wife.
"She's an undocumented American," he said of his spouse, who is now 37. Besides the obvious, Katherine has had no brushes with the law.
The couple acknowledge "missteps" by her parents but note that they were "trying to better their lives." It was an "act of love," as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush put it during his presidential campaign - a comment he was widely criticized for.
Garrett Epps, professor of law at the University of Baltimore and Supreme Court correspondent for the Atlantic, told me he did not find this story all that unusual.
"The important thing to note is that Katherine hasn't committed a crime," he told me. "Merely being in the U.S. without proper authorization isn't criminal, and it doesn't make her 'illegal.' About 40 percent of the undocumented in this country are overstayers; many, like Katherine, were brought here as children and have made lives here. No sane immigration policy contemplates tearing families like Katherine's apart, separating citizen children from their parents - or deporting actual U.S. citizens as a 'punishment' of their parents. Sooner or later, realistic reform . . . is inevitable. The Texas lawsuit is an attempt to block the inevitable."
Public sentiment is on Katherine's side. Just as Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, a widely reported Quinnipiac University poll showed a Trump-vs.-Hillary Clinton race to be close in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (Since 1960, no one has been elected president without winning two of them.) But even where Trump ran strongest against Clinton, there was support for the creation of a legal path to citizenship.
This survey had Trump leading in Ohio by 43-39, where 54 percent support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay and apply for citizenship. (And while slightly supporting Trump, Ohio voters nevertheless oppose his plan to build a wall, 52-45.)
The outcome of the Supreme Court case will come next month. In the meantime, Katherine says she feels as if she's "living under a rock."
"I'm afraid that someone will knock on the door and take me away," she said. "Then what about my family? My kids don't know. Sooner or later I will have to tell them."
Michael Smerconish can be heard from 9 a.m. to noon on SiriusXM's POTUS Channel 124 and seen hosting "Smerconish" at 9 a.m. Saturdays on CNN.