ELK GROVE (KPIX) — It was an emotional reunion when a Bay Area father who was taken into ICE custody when he showed up for work 6 months ago, reunited with his wife and children.

Hugo Mejia of San Rafael is a free man for now. He walked out of the gates of a federal immigration facility around 8:00 p.m. and into the arms of his family.

There were lots of tears and hugs as they embraced Mejia for the first time in six months.

“My kids they always jump on my neck and kiss me,” he said, holding them close. “I missed that … a lot.”

Mejia’s friends and family paid his bond after a federal judge ordered him released from immigration detention, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Federal immigration authorities arrested Mejia and a friend, both undocumented immigrants, in May, after they tried to work a construction job on Travis Air Force Base.

Mejia has spent the last 6 months in the federal holding facility in Oak Grove. The Air Force guard checked his ID, which led to a background check with ICE. Hugo has no criminal record, but did have a decade-old deportation order. His friend, Rodrigo Nunez was deported in August.

Neighbors and family members worried the same would happen to Mejia. They have been rallying on behalf of the 37-year old father of three young children for all these months

“I had a lot of letters from my son and my friends and they make me stay strong,” said Mejia.

Mejia was headed home to San Rafael to reunite with the rest of his family and friends. He said foremost on his mind is going to church to pray. In the long run he says he wants to be able to go back to work and to stay in the country where he has lived for 17 years.

“ Look at me, I’m a hard worker,” he said. “You think I am criminal? You see my face, you see my record — I am not a criminal. I deserve an opportunity to stay here.”

Still, the court battle is by no means over. Mejia is out on bond and he says his legal team will continue to fight his deportation battle.

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