JAMAICA, N.Y. (WPIX)—Finally, 4-year-old Emily Ruiz is back with her parents. Nineteen days after being detained at Washington's Dulles Airport and sent to Guatemala, Emily is home on Long Island with her mother, father and brother.
"Emily represents one of the million kids who fear family separation having been born with parents with mixed status, some of them legal, some of them not. I don't think no kid should go through this." said Ben Mosterroso, part of the team that helped bring Ruiz home.
"This really puts a face on immigration . . . she is not a second class citizen, she is a United States citizen with all the rights and privileges of a US citizen," said Ruiz family attorney David Sperling.
Emily Samantha Ruiz was initially deported following a planned trip with her grandfather where she visited extended family in Guatemala. When her guardian was detained at U.S. customs for pending immigration violations, both grandfather and U.S.-born granddaughter were sent back to the Central American nation.
Sperling says Emily's father was denied the right to get his daughter before she was flown to Guatemala.
"Ultimately they told him he could not be reunited with his daughter because of his undocumented status and the 2 choices he had were to go to a center in Virgina or back to Guatemala with the grandfather."
Customs and Border Patrol dispute Sperling's statement, saying Emily's father was given the option of come to get his daughter.
Sperling says that is false, and that "if he had the opportunity to pick up his daughter he would have done it."
The press was kept from the reunion between Emily and her family, but her father, Leonel Ruiz, did issue a statement: "We have no words to express the joy it brings us to see, hold and kiss our daughter again."
Emily's mother added that she feels "immense joy by having her in my arms after so much anguish."