Immigrant, 14, Fighting for Life Pushes Back Against Trump Policy

"If I go back to my home, then I won't be able to come back to where my doctors are," Serena Badea said

As she fights for her life, a teenage immigrant being treated in Boston is also fighting to reverse a major policy decision by the White House.

Last month, the Trump administration quietly ended an immigration policy known as "medical deferred action," a status given to seriously ill immigrants who have applied to remain in the U.S. for medical treatment.

"I was born without an artery," said 14-year-old Serena Badea, who has overcome incredible odds.

A decade ago, doctors in her native Spain had told her parents she would likely only live to be 10 or 12 years old.

But thanks to a groundbreaking heart surgery at Boston Children's Hospital that gave her an artificial artery, this high school freshman has surpassed her original life expectancy.

"I think I will need treatment for my whole life," Badea said.

Originally granted a visitor's visa to travel back and forth between Spain and the U.S. for treatment, she has since needed to stay for weekly doctors' visits.

"She applied for deferred action and the application," immigration attorney Mahsa Khanbabai said. "While it's pending and until it's approved, a person is legally allowed to stay here."

But the federal government abruptly ended the deferred action program last month, giving people like Badea and her family 33 days to leave the country or face deportation.

"It was scarier than having the surgery, because I don't want to stay here illegaly, and if I go back to my home, then I won't be able to come back to where my doctors are," Badea said.

Her family says there is obviously world-renowned medical care here in the U.S. and she can't get the life-saving treatment back at home in Spain that she gets at Boston Children's Hospital.

"I didn't think I had to come to DC to fight for my life," Badea said Wednesday as she spoke before Congress to try to convince them to reverse the decision to end deferred action visas.

"I think it's really important to take away this element and aspect of politics and the dehumanization of immigrants that's happened," Khanbabai said.

For now, Badea's visa application has been re-opened, but the uncertainty lingers.

"Please help me and all of those affected by receiving this change in policy," she said.

Contact Us