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Girl, denied access to U.S., will try again

By the CNN Wire Staff
4-year-old Emily Ruiz is stuck in an immigration quagmire.
4-year-old Emily Ruiz is stuck in an immigration quagmire.
  • NEW: She will try to return to the U.S. on Tuesday
  • Emily Ruiz, 4, a U.S. citizen, was turned away at airport
  • She was traveling with her Guatemalan grandfather, who was denied entry

(CNN) -- A 4-year-old U.S. citizen who was wrongly denied entry into the country this month will attempt the journey again on Tuesday, her attorney told reporters Monday.

"It's a grave injustice that she has been separated from her parents for so long and we're here to rectify that situation," said lawyer David Sperling, in Guatemala City, Guatemala. "Tomorrow, she's going to New York."

Emily Ruiz, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants living in New York without documentation, had spent five months recuperating from asthma while visiting with her grandparents in Guatemala, Sperling said. When her grandfather accompanied her on a flight back to the United States on March 11, he was stopped by a customs official at Dulles International Airport for an immigration violation dating back some 20 years, the lawyer said.

He was denied entry into the United States, and that placed Emily in the middle of an immigration quagmire. According to her family, immigration officials gave her parents two options: Emily could be sent to Guatemala with her grandfather, or she could be turned over to state custody. She returned to Central America.

"She was basically deported to Guatemala, not in the legal sense, but effectively this is what happened," Sperling said. "We're not here to criticize the government; really, we do not know who is responsible for this."

Officials say they gave Emily's father the opportunity to pick her up, as she is a U.S. citizen. The father, who speaks limited English, said he did not understand if that was indeed offered.

CNN's Adriana Hauser contributed to this report