A young woman whose father was deported from the United States when she was only four years old gave her dad the hug of his life last week after she graduated from high school.
Sarai Ruiz, a resident of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, crossed the U.S. border every single day to attend Hector J. Garcia high school in Laredo, Texas. She graduated on Friday.
Originally born in Wisconsin, Ruiz moved back to Mexico with her mother at age seven so they could be with her father. Since then, Ruiz has been travelling back and forth to get her education — and she’s the first member of her family to graduate from high school.
Only Ruiz’s mother could attend her daughter’s graduation so Ruiz, in a heartwarming, emotional gesture, asked to meet her father in the middle of the Laredo International Bridge, where the two countries’ borders meet. She wore her full graduation regalia as a surprise for her father.
Ruiz posted the tear-jerking moment to her Facebook page on Saturday. Since then, the video has been viewed more than 1.9 million times.
In the video, Ruiz is seen slowly walking across the bridge to her father, and she collapses in his arms, crying.
“I graduated today,” she wrote in the Facebook post. “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.”
Video viewers were quick to share their support with Ruiz.
“It’s (a) struggle to start from the bottom and get to the top,” wrote Facebook user Eva Ordonez. “Parents always give the greatest advice, and by looking at you and your father’s bond, it seems he raised a great daughter. Keep it to 100 and I know you will make him very happy. Don’t give up, and if you seem to fail, tell yourself….SI SE PUEDE!”
“Keep making your parents proud,” wrote another Facebook user.
Ruiz told the Laredo Morning Times that she can’t thank her parents enough for their sacrifices.
“I decided to see my father on the bridge, more than anything because he did not come to see me at my graduation, and I wanted him to see me dressed in my cords, my medals and the achievements I had reached thanks to his efforts and my mother’s,” she told the publication.
Ruiz also said she’ll never forget the words her father said to her when they embraced on the bridge.
“I remember the words perfectly and I will never forget them: ‘Nobody will ever separate us. Only God can separate us,'” she revealed.
She’s heading to the University of Texas at Austin in the fall.