Emily Ruiz, 4, Deported: 'Anchor Baby' Debate Ensues

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 25, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Four year old Emily Ruiz is a United States citizen, though her parents, who reside in New York, are not.

The little girl took a trip to Guatemala with her documented grandfather earlier this month, reports The New York Times. But, upon return to the U.S., she was sent back.

What is a sad and traumatic experience for Emily Ruiz is now fodder for the U.S. "anchor baby" debate.

Due to a diverted plane, Emily and her grandfather were made to go through customs and immigration at Dulles International Airport. Once there, the grandpa was detained for an invalid visa and was set to be immediately deported.

Emily's father, Leonel, eventually contacted immigration officials to collect his daughter, according to The New York Times. He was told that the girl would either be put into the foster care system or sent back with her grandfather.

Leonel Ruiz also alleges that he was not permitted to pick his daughter up, as he is undocumented. Customs and Border Patrol contends otherwise.

The immigration and citizenship status of so-called "anchor babies" is a continuous debate in this country, but has seen a recent increase of attention.

Some calling for immigration reform feel that, if the constitutional clause creating "anchor babies" must stand, then the government should handle all cases like that of Emily Ruiz.

U.S. immigration law is purely driven by Congress, meaning that parents of U.S. citizens have no constitutional right to remain in the country, even if their child does. In fact, the Supreme Court has already found that it is not unconstitutional to remove parents, and then force them to decide whether to take or leave the child.

It's probably also not unconstitutional to refuse to turn a minor U.S. citizen over to her undocumented parents--they're technically criminals.

So, though the story of Emily Ruiz is quite sad, it might be completely legal.

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