San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Wrongfully deported U.S. girl reunited with family

NEW YORK – Four-year-old Emily Samantha Ruiz, a U.S. resident and victim of an erroneous deportation by U.S. authorities, returned to New York this week where she was reunited with her undocumented Guatemalan parents.

On March 11, an error led to the girl’s deportation to Guatemala while she was traveling to New York from Guatemala with her grandfather. The pair’s plane was diverted to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. due to bad weather.

Emily’s grandfather had a file of immigration infractions dating to the 1990s, but it’s not clear if he entered the U.S. with expired documents. His attorney, David Sperling, said he has a current H-2B visa.

According to Sperling, who traveled to Guatemala to escort the minor home, immigration officials told the girl’s father that the family had two options: transfer the girl to a detention center for minors in Virginia, or send her to live with her grandfather in Guatemala.

“Emily is finally back with us. Words cannot express how happy we are to see her, hug her and kiss her again,” said Emily’s father, Leonel Ruiz. The family was reunited at the JFK Airport in New York.

When Emily was deported, the Ruiz family sought help from the media, announcing that a U.S. citizen and minor had been wrongfully deported. 

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