A Dallas recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is anxiously waiting to see whether he'll continue to be protected against deportation as he fights for his life.
The 21-year-old, referred to as a "Dreamer," based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act, was recently diagnosed with a rare blood cancer and faces hurdles with or without DACA.
Mayel Valadez sat quietly on his hospital bed Tuesday afternoon, clutching his cross necklace. He said his worries include whether his last round of chemotherapy would work and whether he would receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
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Now, he said, there's another worry.
"It kind of sucks if I get deported because I'm going somewhere I don't even know," Valadez said.
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday took up the Trump administration's plan to end DACA, a protection that shields more than 660,000 immigrants from deportation.
Like hundreds of thousands of young migrants, Valadez said he was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by his parents as a child.
Receiving DACA protection status granted Valadez the ability to work, go to college and help his mother.
In order to receive DACA status, Valadez passed a criminal background check and paid a fee.
Losing that protection, he said, would be devastating.
"You don't take it away, you add to the fear of maybe losing everything I've worked for because all I know is Dallas," he said.
Then there's his battle to live.
Valadez was recently diagnosed with blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm, a rare form of acute leukemia.
He said receiving costly care for a transplant isn't possible because of DACA parameters.
"Most of the foundations that help with bone marrow transplants. their requirements are to be a [permanent] resident or [U.S.] citizen and with DACA it doesn't fall under those," he said. "I've done everything right since I got DACA. I work, I go to school, I pay my taxes, you know. I stay good with the law and I can't get a life-saving treatment just because DACA doesn't consider me a resident or citizen which is literally all I need to get the foundation to look at me."
Valadez would like to finish his junior year at Texas Woman's University in Denton and become a physical therapist.
For now, he and his mother spend the day in his hospital room in Dallas, praying for healing and empathy.
"If you meet most DACA students or DACA recipients, they're trying to be something in society. They really are," he said. "They're trying to not just be something but give back. I know I'm trying to give back."
Valadez's mother started a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of covering the cost of treatment and a bone marrow transplant.