FRANKLYWNOW - Why was 4-year-old American girl deported?

Why was 4-year-old American girl deported?

Under our system, two things are crystal clear: Law enforcement agencies are required to treat children with more care than adults, and U.S. citizens have certain rights that are not to be abridged -- including the right to due process.

Just don't try telling any of that to the parents of Emily Ruiz. They know better. Those principles didn't apply in the case of the 4-year-old from Brentwood, New York, who -- after traveling to Guatemala to visit relatives with her grandfather -- was denied entry into the United States on March 11 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and instead sent back to Guatemala.

That is no way to treat a U.S. citizen. You see, while both of her parents are illegal immigrants, Emily was born in the United States and so she is a U.S. citizen. That is supposed to mean something in this country. At the very least, it should mean that authorities shouldn't have done anything more than greet the little girl with a polite and sincere: "Welcome home."

Instead, according to her family's attorney, Emily was detained alone for several hours at Dulles International Airport while authorities tried to figure out what to do and while her grandfather was treated for what seemed to be a panic attack.

"It's outrageous," David Sperling, the family's attorney, told me. "Effectively, she (Emily) was deported. They treated her like an 'anchor baby,' like a second-class citizen. I can't imagine that they would treat any other U.S. citizen this way."

Speaking of so-called anchor babies, an offensive term used by some on the right to describe the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants who supposedly keep their parents anchored in the United States, this case shows that the whole concept is bogus. Emily couldn't even keep herself anchored in the United States, let alone her parents.

I asked Sperling if he believed that Emily was treated shoddily because she is Latina.

"Absolutely," he said. "If this was a Caucasian girl from some European country, this would never have happened."

According to multiple accounts, here is what happened. At the end of their stay in Guatemala, Emily and her grandfather boarded a plane to return to New York. The grandfather had a work visa and a notarized letter from Emily's parents authorizing him to travel with her. The girl had a U.S. passport. But because of bad weather, the flight was diverted to Washington.

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