A high school graduate surprised her deported father by crossing the border bridge in her gown and giving him a hug.
18-year-old Sarai Ruiz celebrated the end of her time at Hector J. Garcia Early College High School in Laredo, Texas recently, but as she stood alongside her classmates only her mother was there to celebrate her achievement.
The teen was born in Wisconsin, US, and lived there with both her mother and father. When she was just four years old, however, her dad Esteban Ruiz was deported from the country.
Take a look at the emotional moment here:
Posted by Sarai Ruiz on Friday, 24 May 2019
Sarai and her mother continued to live in Wisconsin until she was seven, when the pair moved to Laredo, Texas, and then later to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, so their whole family could be together.
Despite living in Mexico the young girl continued to attend school in the US, meaning she had to cross the border bridge every day in order to receive her education.
Esteban was unable to attend his daughter’s graduation as he’s not allowed back into the US, but he waited on the Puente de Las Americas, aka the Gateway to the Americas Bridge, to congratulate Sarai.
The graduate spoke to NBC News about the situation, saying:
As I looked over at my mom that day as my principal was speaking, I couldn’t help but to see other parents there for their kids, and it wasn’t just a mom.
It was mom and dad, or mom and dad and grandma and grandpa. And it really did hit home for me. I knew that my dad couldn’t be there.
I gave him a hug and I just started to cry a lot. It’s like I fulfilled the dreams of both my mom and dad to find better opportunities that they didn’t have.
Sarai shared the now-viral video on Facebook, with the caption:
I knew my father would never see me walk to get my diploma but today I’d thought I’d surprise him by crossing the bridge so he could see me with my cap and gown.
The 18-year-old recalled how her father once told her nobody would separate their family, and years later Sarai pointed out how he was right.
Since I was four…All this time has passed and it’s true, nothing could ever separate us. A border’s not going to separate us, not a bridge, not being able to cross…[It’s] not going to change that fact that we’re still family.
Now her time at high school is over, Sarai plans to continue her studies at the University of Texas in Austin. I’m sure her proud father will be cheering her on every step of the way!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.