A Harvard college student who finally got permission to return to the U.S. after he took his dying mother to Mexico spoke to NBC4 Los Angeles on Wednesday about his journey home.
Dario Guerrero Meneses, 21, and his mother left Long Beach in July to find medical help in Mexico when chemotherapy had failed, aware that his illegal status could prevent him from ever returning to United States once he left.
Meneses was granted permission to return home Tuesday.
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"I was immensely relieved, because for a second I was starting to believe I would be stuck here for more months, maybe years," Meneses said.
Thanks to a humanitarian parole order, Meneses thinks he'll be back in Long Beach in a week or two.
"We're just counting the days," he said.
Meneses, who came to the U.S. illegally, was granted reprieve from deportation in 2012 under the Dream Act. When Meneses left the U.S. without getting permission to leave, he violated those terms. When he tried to return, his attempts were denied.
He risked never being able to return to the U.S. by going to Mexico -- a decision he says he will never regret.
He was by his mother's side when she died in August.
"What I wanted my mom to know is that she was first in my thoughts, always," Meneses said. "It's unfortunate that I couldn't do more for her, but I'm glad i was able to with her for her journey."
He wants to turn his journey into a documentary he hopes will inspire change.
"Many sway, some people who have a skewed view of what being undocumented means and who the undocumented people in the United States are, what kind of people they are," Meneses said. "What I hope to achieve by sharing my story is to give at least some of the undocumented students hope, hope that they can actually make a future for themselves in the United States, and hope that things will be OK."