A high school graduate gave her deported father a hug in a touching Facebook video that is eliciting tears.
Sarai Ruiz lives in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and has been crossing the border every day to attend Hector J. Garcia high school in Laredo, Texas.
On Friday, she became the first in her family to graduate from high school, according to Global News.
Ruiz was originally born in Wisconsin, but her father, Esteban Ruiz, was deported when she was four.
The separation had became too much of a burden. By the time she was seven, Ruiz and her mother moved to Mexico so they could be with her father.
Only her mother was able to attend the commencement ceremony because her father cannot re-enter the U.S. So the 18-year-old graduate arranged to surprise her father at the middle of the Laredo International Bridge in her cap and gown.
Here is the Facebook video below.
The video starts with the camera following her way across the bridge towards her father. Once they see each other, there are no words.
You could see her father's pride as she gives in to tears and hugs him.
As of this writing, the video of the poignant embrace has gone viral with over 3.5 million views since Saturday's posting.
She wrote about holding back tears as she received her diploma.
"I graduated today. 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."
"I have to say that all my life I wondered if my dad would ever see me graduate… it started as not seeing him on Father's Day then it continued to be a spiral of downhill emotions where I would only see him once a year."
Ruiz said she was grateful for her father's sacrifice.
"And then things changed. I moved to Laredo… and I got to see him every weekend… we bought a house, and now I'd see him everyday [sic]… today I can say that although we may have lost father and daughter time… I will always be grateful for his sacrifice to put his life at risk many times just to see me again.. gracias por todo papá,"
People moved by the video left encouraging comments for the graduate.
Ruiz told the Laredo Times:
"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."
In the fall, she will attend the University of Texas at Austin to study psychology and government with a concentration in economics.
She left words of wisdom for other graduates and told them to keep believing in themselves.
"My advice is to never lose faith in God, no matter how difficult the situation or because we are separated from family. You have to keep moving forward without giving up, believing in yourself and in your family because sometimes we don't believe that we can graduate or go to college--either due to finances or your parents don't support you, but if you can believe in yourself, you can reach your goals."
The Texas teenager recalled the powerful words her father left for her.
"I remember the words perfectly, and I will never forget them: 'Nobody will ever separate us. Only God can separate us.'"
Got that box of tissues handy?