"He is extremely happy to be released, more than words can describe," the Bravo star's lawyer said in a statement to PEOPLE on Friday

By Ashley Boucher
October 11, 2019 11:05 PM

When Joe Giudice was released from ICE custody to board a plane for Italy on Friday, he had something very important to do: talk to his girls!

Joe’s lawyer James J. Leonard Jr. told PEOPLE in a statement on Friday that Joe spoke with both his wife, Teresa Giudice, and his oldest daughter, Gia Giudice, from the European-bound plane.

“He is en route to Italy right now. He spoke to Teresa and Gia from the plane and he is extremely happy to be released, more than words can describe,” Leonard said.

He added that they will continue to appeal Joe’s deportation order as he is in Italy: “We are still fighting and it is his desire to return home to the United States to be reunited with his family.”

A source previously told PEOPLE that Joe was having a difficult time being in custody and missed his family a great deal.

“Not being able to see his family, and knowing that he won’t be able to be back home with them, has really broken him,” the source said. In addition to 18-year-old Gia, Joe and Teresa share Gabriella, 15, Milania, 14, and Audriana, 10.

Teresa, Gia and Joe Giudice
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

RELATED: Teresa Giudice Asks for Prayers as Husband Flies Back to Italy Amid Deportation Battle

Later in the day on Friday, after speaking with her husband, Teresa shared a photo of the Statue of Liberty crying with her face in her hands, captioning the post with a string of praying hand emojis.

Until Friday, Joe was being held at at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania, where he was sent after serving a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud. He was released last March, and an immigration court ruled to deport Joe last October.

What has followed has been a very uphill battle for Joe.

Teresa and Joe Giudice
Dave Kotinsky/Getty

RELATED: Joe Giudice Leaves U.S. for Italy After Being Freed from ICE Custody Ahead of Deportation Appeal

Joe’s request to move to Italy was granted earlier this month, only after his request to move back to New Jersey with Teresa and their daughters was denied.

His lawyers said in documents previously obtained by PEOPLE that the father of four was hoping to be released from custody so that he could work to make money for his family.

While Joe has been dealing with his deportation drama, life has continued for Teresa and the girls. Teresa recently attended a football game at Rutgers University with Gia, where she is a student, and the family celebrated Gabriella’s 15th birthday last week.

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