Sarai Ruiz just graduated from Laredo High School in Texas. After graduation she didn’t head home or to a graduation party like her fellow graduates. Sarai took her diploma and headed to the Mexican border so she could celebrate her graduation by hugging her father, who could not cross the border into the United States.
After shedding tears and sharing hugs with her father at the border Sarai shared the moment with her family and friends on Facebook. Her post quickly went viral.
“I graduated today…I tried so hard not to cry when we saluted our parents knowing that only my mom was there…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 🎓❤️
I have to say that all my life I wondered if my dad would ever see me graduate..it started as not seeing him on Father’s Day then it continued to be a spiral of downhill emotions where I would only see him once a year.. and then things changed I moved to Laredo..and I got to see him every weekend..we bought a house and now I’d see him every day..today I can say that although we may have lost father and daughter time..I will always be grateful for his sacrifice to put his life at risk many times just to see me again.. gracias por todo papá”
For several years, Sarai crossed the Mexican border almost every day to attend classes at her high school in Laredo, Texas. Ruiz’s father, Esteban Ruiz, had been deported from the United States when she was just four years old. Though she now lives with both of her parents in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Ruiz continued to attend school in the United States, which meant crossing the border bridge every day to get her education.
“It’s hard to wake up early, like at 5 a.m. just so you can cross and go to school, and then cross back in the afternoon,” she said.
Dressed in a graduation robe, Ruiz walked with purpose to the spot she could visit with her father. Her father waited for her on a bridge that separates Mexico and the United States. She quickly broke down in tears as she hugged her father tightly.
“I gave him a hug and I just started to cry a lot,” she told NBC News. “It’s like I fulfilled the dreams of both my mom and dad to find better opportunities that they didn’t have.”
As the two spoke her father brought her to tears again as he told her that “nobody could ever separate us, that only God could separate us.”
“That will forever be engraved in my mind,” she said. “Since I was four…All this time has passed and it’s true, nothing could ever separate us,” she said. “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.”
Posted by Sarai Ruiz on Friday, May 24, 2019
Sarai is the first member of the Ruiz family to graduate high school. She will be attending the University of Texas at Austin where she plans to study psychology and government.
Just days after Sarai shared her story another graduate, Juan Sandoval, shared his story of meeting his mother at the border after his graduation. His Facebook post also went viral.
Juan shared “My story is not one that is unique, my story is shared with many past, present, and future graduating classmates, and I am proud of every single one of them. It’s been a difficult 8 years without my mother by my side, especially these past 4 years of my high school life where I’ve been put to the test so many times. I know my mom is not perfect, but I know she only wants the best for me. It’s been 8 long years without you, but today I’m proud to say I completed this chapter in my life, and I finally got to share with you one of the many pinnacle moments in my life that you have missed.
But guys I am missing a big piece in this journey, and the most important piece in all of this. My guardian angel who came out of nowhere to help me out when I needed it the most. I was an undocumented student up until my freshman year in high school, and the reason I have my residence today is all because of this strong woman who took on the challenge to raise another kid as if I were one of their own. those 8 years without my mom, claudia santoyo was the person that cared for me and the person who made sure I had a future. I will forever be grateful for everything that she did for me even if we may not be in the best terms right now. Even though all the obstacles put in her way, she managed to raise a bad troublemaking kid into a kid who knows what he wants from life. I made the mistake of leaving her home because of dumbass reasons, and I know that she will never be the same after I left. I just hope that you can forgive me and that you can continue to show me the love that you have always shown me. I am not a perfect person trust me, I am far from that. But if there’s anyone I should thank, its Claudia because without her I wouldn’t be able to reach this milestone. But rest assured that even through all the trials and tribulations I have gone through, there is no barrier, obstacle, or wall that can keep me from accomplishing my dreams and make both parents proud every single day.
Congrats class of 2019.
We made it.”
Children should never be separated from parents who love and care for them. Our country’s immigration policies are inhumane. Being legal or not being legal should not be the deciding factor if a family stays together.
From April 19 to May 31, 1,995 children were separated from their parents at the border — approximately 46 children per day — according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Families fleeing political and gang violence in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador now face the additional trauma of losing the children they are risking their lives to protect.
The idea of punishing parents, who are trying to save their children’s lives, by separating them is fundamentally cruel and un-American,