A Mexican-born Harvard student stranded in Mexico because he lacked proper immigration paperwork to reenter the United States will be allowed to return to Cambridge in the coming days, a lawyer for the student said Tuesday.
Dario Guerrero Meneses traveled to Mexico with his mother in August in hopes she might benefit from alternative medical treatment for her cancer, the Associated Press reported earlier today.
Both Guerrero and his 41-year-old mother, Rocio Meneses Diaz, were living in the United States as undocumented immigrants. They knew leaving the country was a risky venture, but they were desperate to find medical treatment.
"I spoke to cancer survivors who had tried that treatment," Guerrero told Fusion, referencing an all-natural regime of raw vegetables and vitamins. "It was the only option left for us."
The alternative therapy could not reverse the course of his mother's kidney cancer. She passed away on Aug. 14, a week after arriving in Mexico. Following his mother's death, Guerrero stayed at his grandparent's house near Mexico City. He submitted a petition in late September to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting the ability to return on humanitarian grounds, according to his lawyer.
The petition was granted Tuesday afternoon, hours after media outlets picked up on his story. USCIS would not comment on the case.
Guerrero, 21, came to California as a child, entering with his family and overstaying a tourist visa. He was granted deportation relief in 2012 under President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program.
Young people covered under the program are able to apply for permission to leave the country. In Guerrero's case, however, his mother's illness prompted him to depart hastily while his application was still pending approval.
"He panicked. His dad and mom wanted him to go, and he did the best thing he thought he could do for his family," Guerrero's lawyer, Alan Klein, told the AP.
Guerrero poses with his grandparents in this Oct. 3 photo (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills).
Guerrero said that in hindsight his mother might have been happier dying at home in Los Angeles, where she had lived for decades. Her husband, who is also undocumented, did not make the trip to Mexico with her.
"I don't think it was a complete loss to come here," Guerrero told Fusion by phone. "She was able to reconcile with her family and come to terms with why she left Mexico"
As for his own struggles with the immigration system, Guerrero said he's glad that he'll be able to return to school in the U.S. He will miss the fall semester at Harvard but plans to continue classes in January.
"For some people it takes years," he said of the petition to return. "I think I've been fortunate."
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.