Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos went to Mass and said a prayer before her immigration check-in Wednesday in Phoenix.
It was her eighth visit since her 2008 arrest and conviction for using a fake Social Security number. After each meeting, the married mother of two was released and went back to her family.
This time was different.
The undocumented immigrant was detained Wednesday and deported within 24 hours to her native Mexico, in what her lawyer claims is a direct result of US President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials claim there was nothing special about her case. She committed a crime, was placed under a deportation order, and her time had come.
Whatever the reason, Garcia de Rayos, 35, said she has no regrets. Not about coming to the US as a teenager in search of a better life nearly two decades ago, or staying illegally and working under a fake Social Security number. Not about going to her immigration check-in despite the risk of deportation under the Trump administration’s executive order.
“The truth is I was there [in the United States] for my children. For a better future. To work for them. And I don’t regret it, because I did it for love,” she said in a news conference Thursday night from Nogales, Mexico.
“I’m going to keep fighting so that they continue to study in their country, and so that their dreams become a reality.”
Garcia de Rayos was turned over to Mexican authorities Thursday at a border crossing in Nogales, Arizona. She might be the first person deported from Arizona under President Trump’s executive order, her attorney told CNN affiliate KNXV-TV.
Her case has become a flashpoint in debate over the new policy, which says any undocumented immigrant convicted or charged with a crime that hasn’t been adjudicated could be deported.
“I think this is a direct result of the new executive orders that are being put into actions by President Trump calling them ‘enhancing public safety,’ which really appears only to be attacking immigrant communities and people of color,” her attorney Ray Maldonado said.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, called her deportation a travesty.
On Wednesday evening, seven people were arrested outside the Phoenix ICE office when protesters attempted to block an agency van from taking Garcia de Rayos away.
Immigrant advoacy group Puente Arizona said Garcia de Rayos was a victim of controversial policies of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Enforcing identity-theft laws was one of Arpaio’s most well-known tools to crack down on illegal immigration in the border state.
Puente sued Arpaio, saying the workplace raids — such as the one in which Garcia de Rayos was arrested — were unconstitutional and amounted to racial and ethnic profiling. It lost the case on appeal, but Arpaio disbanded the task force that conducted the raids.
The immigration executive orders signed by Trump could amount to a vast expansion of authority for individual immigration officers and a dramatic increase in efforts to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.