The immigrant mother from Brooklyn who was jailed for months without facing any charges was released from her Virginia detention facility and reunited with her family after NBC 4 New York's reports on the case.
Jian Ling Lin was emotional as she hugged her young children Friday night, holding them for the first time since June.
"I missed my family very, very much," she said through a translator, tears in her eyes. "I missed my newborn daughter. I wrote them letters every day. That's all I could do."
Lin cried as she hugged her daughter Mia, who was only two months old when Lin was arrested in Virginia.
"Thank you, thank you," she said. "If it weren't for the coverage, I would never be able to see my children again. I was afraid my baby wouldn't remember me."
Lin was detained in Farmville, Va. after a sting into green card fraud by Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- but she was never charged.
Lin's story provoked outcry from the community after NBC 4 New York aired a report on her plight, including her 10-year-old son Toby Shi pleading for the return of his mother.
On Friday, Toby was all smiles.
"I'm going to tell my mom about what happened while she was gone, tell her stories about my sister," he said.
Toby and 6-month-old Mia had been living with their 62-year-old grandfather, who is disabled and has health issues.
Toby said his father is a restaurant worker in another state who works every day "and he doesn't have time to come home."
"We had no hope, and that's why we reached out to you guys," said Lin's attorney CJ Wang, who credited NBC 4 New York viewers for helping move the case.
Wang said authorities wanted to keep Lin "to use as a possible witness or for evidence" in an investigation into a green card scam.
"But that's not a legal reason because she hasn't been charged," said Wang.
Wang said that Lin has deportation orders but ICE can grant parents with young children supervised release.
ICE acknowledged that Friday as they released Lin from their custody while she awaits the outcome of her immigration case.
"ICE uses prosecutorial discretion and takes great care to determine who to release for humanitarian reasons such as being the sole caregiver of minors," it said in a statement.