Dario Guerrero, a junior at Harvard University made a rash decision to leave the United States to travel to Mexico, his country of birth, to bring his dying mother home to Mexico. Dario came to the United States when he was only 2 years old and moved to California with his family. They arrived on a tourist visa, but overstayed and remained in the United States undocumented for all the years since.
Thanks to the law President Obama passed two years ago, he and hundreds of thousands of other young people in similar situations are able to remain in the United States, if they entered before their 16th birthday and graduated from high school or are currently enrolled in high school. This form of relief called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), does not allow for beneficiaries to leave the country. Doing so violates the condition of their status and they would not be permitted to reenter the country.
When his mother’s treatments for cancer in the United States failed and the situation grew dire, he found doctors in Mexico that offered alternative treatments as a possibility. In order to try to save her life, he gave up his protected, DACA status in the United States and took his ailing mother across the border in a desperate attempt to try another form of treatment. Unfortunately, the doctors in Mexico were not able to save her life and a few weeks after they arrived, she died in a Mexican hospital, with her son at her side.
Because Dario had not been granted special permission before he fled to Mexico, the United States government considered that his status of protection had ended. When he applied to re-enter, he was denied, based on his unauthorized departure.
While his classmates in Cambridge, Massachusetts were studying for their final exams at Harvard, Dario was stuck at his grandparent’s house in gang-controlled area of Mexico City. Finally, Dario applied for a humanitarian parole that would allow him to re-enter, that allows the government to consider this request if there is “urgent humanitarian reasons or if there is a significant public benefit.”
Dario did attempt to request permission to leave by submitting TWO requests for emergency advanced parole. These requests were never finally adjudicated by the United States Citizen and Immigration Service, who requested further medical documentation on his mother’s health condition and did not act quickly enough. Unfortunately, the way her illness was progressing, Dario could not wait for USCIS to make a decision. The possibility of saving his mom’s life came first for him and his family. His mother and father both thought it would be the best decision to travel to Mexico in a last attempt to save her, so he left the United States, before receiving a final answer from the government.
Unfortunately when his mother passed away, Dario conceded that she would probably have been more comfortable dying at their home in California. But he also quantified that he would not have been able to live with the possibility that he could have saved her if he hadn’t tried, by choosing to leave before USCIS gave him a final decision on his request for emergency travel.