6-year-old U.S. citizen and resident of Long Island, Emily Ruiz, who was mistakenly deported to Guatemala by a U.S. immigration officer, now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Emily was only 4 when she was deported on March 11, 2011. Her father Leonel Ruiz is now suing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on her behalf for “significant psychological harm."
After deportation, Emily spent three weeks in Guatemala, staying with family. After she was returned to her parents in Brentwood, NY, she suffered from new fears and psychological problems, including overeating, throwing tantrums and soiling herself, according to the suit filed in Brooklyn federal court.
The trouble began when Emily was returning from a trip to Guatemala with her grandfather, Luis Dubon. Their plane was diverted from New York City to Washington’s Dulles due to weather. There a border agent took Dubon into custody due to an “irregularity.” Allegedly Dubon had a legal work permit, but had entered the U.S. before illegally.
When the flight was finally rerouted to New York, Emily and her grandfather were not on it. Her parents panicked when they could not locate her for 14 hours.
Emily was kept in a cold holding room for 20 hours with nowhere to sleep, the suit says. She was only given a cookie and soda to eat.
Ruiz alleges that when an agent finally called him he was given only two options: Emily could be held at a juvenile facility for “adoption” or she could be returned to Guatemala. The suit says that at one point an agent even told Emily she was being put up for adoption.
The CBP claims they told Ruiz he could come to D.C. to pick Emily up, but the suit says agents claimed the girl could not be returned to “illegals.”
After three weeks, the family’s lawyer flew to Guatemala to get Emily and bring her home.
According to Cross, the "CBP has very, very limited authority to detain U.S. citizens, and no authority to deport them. In this case, the CBP officers clearly misunderstood the limits of their authority to enforce immigration law."
The lawsuit is one of 10 recently filed against the agency by advocacy groups across the country.
While the agency says it does not comment on legal cases, in a statement they said: "CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of its mission. We do not tolerate misconduct or abuse within our ranks and we fully cooperate with all investigations of alleged unlawful conduct, on or off duty, by any of our CBP employees and contractors."
Source: NY Daily News