A National City, California, family has been reunited with their father, a deported business owner, after handing their case over to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Enrique Cervantes, a father of four who has lived in the South Bay for the past couple decades, was deported by Border Patrol in April.
The following month, his family asked BP for prosecutorial discretion — a type of legal leniency authorized by President Barack Obama that allows the federal agency to make deportation exceptions in certain cases.
On Wednesday, Cervantes was let back into the country after he was granted a case review by ICE. The family said they were eating at a nearby Burger King, unsure when or if he would arrive, when they got the call and ran over.
"I just hugged him," his daughter said. "No words."
Enrique's wife Marisol is a U.S. citizen, as are her four children. But Cervantes moved across the border illegally when he was 11 years old and has not become a U.S. citizen.
Hours after he drove through a Border Patrol checkpoint on April 25, Cervantes was put on a bus to Mexico.
"That day, we just lost all the hope,” said Marisol. “We just feel like we didn't have an opportunity to prove who he was.”
The family spent their time gathering a phone book-sized case file, filled with reasons Cervantes should qualify for prosecutorial discretion. The issue is a political hot button, allowing for a gray area in deportations as long as the person isn't a threat to national security.
Opponents of the Obama administration policy say any crime, no matter how minor, should make undocumented immigrants ineligible to return.
In a statement in May, Border Patrol told NBC 7, "[We’re] aware of the case regarding Mr. Cervantes. Mr. Cervantes was considered for prosecutorial discretion. However, his case did not meet Department of Homeland Security guidelines."
At issue is a previous deportation. Cervantes was sent back to Mexico in 1993, when his family admits he had a drug problem leading to several misdemeanors.
His case will now be reviewed.