Arizona mom at center of immigration fight has been deported – AZCentral.com
Guadalupe GarcÃa de Rayos reunites with her children in Nogales, Mexico. The Mesa mother found herself at the epicenter of the national debate over immigration enforcement after she was taken into custody during a routine ICE check-in.
Jacqueline Rayos Garcia, 14, and Angel Rayos Garcia, 16, the children of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, and Ray Ybarra-Maldonado, her attorney, speak about Garcia de Rayos on Feb. 9, 2017, the day she was deported to Mexico. David Wallace/azcentral.com
Protesters at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix. Ben Moffat/azcentral.com
People gather to protest a deportation in Phoenix on Feb. 8, 2017. Courtney Pedroza/azcentral.com
Protesters at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ben Moffat/azcentral.com
Protest at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ben Moffat/azcentral.com
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in the ICE van as people protest. Rob Schumacher/azcentral.com
Protesters blocked immigration enforcement vans from leaving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Phoenix on Feb. 8, 2017. The protest was spurred after a Mesa mother was taken into custody. Johana Restrepo/azcentral.com
Protesters in Phoenix blocked immigration enforcement vans from leaving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Phoenix on Feb. 8, 2017. The protest was spurred after a Mesa mother was taken into custody by ICE after a routine check-in with the agency.
Representatives from Puente Arizona-Grassroots Organizing for Human Rights talk to families who are directly impacted by President Donald Trump’s announcement on immigration. Nick Oza/azcentral.com
Local activists voice their opinions about President Donald Trump’s executive actions. Michael Chow/azcentral.com
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A Mesa mother suddenly at theÂ epicenter of the national debate over immigration enforcement has been deported, her attorney announced Thursday.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was removed from the U.S. shortly before 10 a.m. through the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales.Â Her deportation was coordinated with Mexican consular representatives, ICE said in a statement.
In Mexico, she was taken in byÂ a shelter for migrants run by the Kino Border Initiative just across the border in Nogales, Sonora, said Father Sean Carroll, the director.
By Thursday night, her children had traveled to Nogales, Sonora, and were at her side at the shelter as she told assembled media thatÂ she didn’t regret going to her appointment with ICE officials that ultimately led to her being deported, even though she could have taken sanctuary at a church or just not gone to the appointment.
“We are going to move forward,” she said.Â “I’m only a mother who fights for my children. I faced (ICE) because I didn’t want to be hiding, I don’t like that.”
The immigrant-rights group Puente Arizona had anticipated Garcia de RayosÂ might not be released by ICE because ofÂ President DonaldÂ Trump’sÂ Jan. 25Â executive order calling for deporting undocumented immigrants convicted of any crime, not just serious crimes. The groupÂ for over an hourÂ WednesdayÂ blocked federal vehicles, including one transporting Garcia de Rayos, from leaving the ICE facility in central Phoenix.
At an emotional news conference Thursday outside the ICE offices, her husband and two U.S. citizen children lashed out at ICE and Trump for deporting Garcia de Rayos.
“No one should have the pain of having their mother taken away,” said her daughter, Jacqueline Rayos Garcia, 14, a student at Red Mountain High School in Mesa.
She described, throughÂ tears, the pain of packingÂ a suitcase with clothes and other items to take to her mother in Nogales.
“My sister needs my mother. She is only 14 years old and she is still growing,” said Angel Rayos Garcia, 16, at the news conference. He is the son of Garcia de Rayos.
Attorney: ‘Direct result of the executiveÂ orders’
Garcia de Rayos, 35,Â was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon during a routineÂ check-in at the Phoenix ICE offices. For four years,Â federal immigration authorities hadÂ givenÂ her a pass to remain in the U.S. rather than deport her back to Mexico.
This was the eighth time she had reported to ICE for a check-in, according to her lawyer, Ray Ybarra-Maldonado.
Ybarra-Maldonado said he accompanied Garcia de Rayos into theÂ ICE facility Wednesday. After passing through a security gate and presenting check-in papers, Garcia de Rayos sat in a waiting area. He said they waited for about an hour and a half before an ICE officialÂ met with them.
Ybarra-Maldonado said he asked the ICE officials if Garcia de Rayos was going to be released on supervision again or taken into custody. The ICE official said no decision had yet been made.
He said as a precaution he then handed the ICE official a form requesting that ICE grant her a stay of deportation “just in case.”Â About 45 minutes later, ICE officials informed Garcia de Rayos that she was being taken into custody, Ybarra-Maldonado said.
The attorney said he asked if that decision was the result of Trump’s executive order, but the ICE official did not respond. He said ICE officials also did not provide an explanation of why they denied his request that her deportation be stayed.
“IÂ think this was a direct result of the executiveÂ orders being put into action, President Trump calling them to enhance public safety, which really appear to be attacking immigrant communitiesÂ and attacking people of color,” he said.
In a written statementÂ Thursday, ICE officials did not address claims that Garcia de Rayos was taken into custody because of a change in policy under Trump.
“GarciaÂ hasÂ a prior felony conviction in Arizona for criminal impersonation, and was the subject of a court-issued removal order that became final in July 2013,” the statement said.
“Garciaâs immigration case underwent review at multiple levels of the immigration court system, including the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the judges held she did not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S. ICE will continue to focus on identifying and removing individuals with felony convictions who have final orders of removal issued by the nationâs immigration courts.â
Ybarra-MaldonadoÂ said the felony conviction stemmed from a work-site raid conducted by then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2008.
“She used a fake Social Security number to get work,” he said. “Her crime was wanting to feed herself” and her family.
He saidÂ Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. in 1996, when she was 14.
Asked about the deportation at Thursday’s White House briefing, press secretaryÂ Sean SpicerÂ referred questions to ICE.
âThatâs an ICE matter,” Spicer said. “The situation is developing in Arizona right now.â
‘Our immigration system is broken’
The deportation drew swift criticism from opponents of Trump’s executive actions on immigration.
U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., said Garcia de Rayosâ deportation isÂ a âtragedyâ for her family.
âDonald Trump is cruelly ripping a mother and a breadwinner away from her American citizen children,â he said in a statement Thursday. âInstead of focusing on improving our economy or keeping Americans safe from real danger, the Trump administrationâs policies are persecuting law abiding members of the immigrant community. â¦ These are productive and contributing members of the Phoenix community and we will not stand by as Trump implements his bigoted policies.â
U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., suggested the situation was unfortunateÂ but was vague about whether she supported the administrationâs policy.
âSeparating a mother from her American children is a sad example of why our immigration system is broken. We need immigration reform that secures our borders, strengthens our economy, and provides a fair but tough path to citizenship,â she said in a statement.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton issued a statement calling the detention and deportation of Garcia de Rayos âa travesty.âÂ He said it shows that Trumpâs deportation policiesÂ make the country less safe.
âRather than tracking down violent criminals and drug dealers, ICE is spending its energy deporting a woman with two American children who has lived here for more than two decades and poses a threat to nobody,â Stanton said.
Stantonâs statement comes as pro-immigrant activists areÂ pushing him to designate Phoenix a âsanctuary cityâÂ to stop local police from enforcing state and federal immigration law. StantonÂ opposed that status last week.
Carlos Garcia, Puente’s director, accused Stanton of allowing Phoenix police to facilitate Garcia de Rayos’ deportation by clearing protesters who were blocking three vans and a bus from ICE’s facility in Phoenix.
“The Phoenix Police Departmentâs police wereÂ pushing the crowd out of the way and was helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement separate this family,” Garcia said at the Thursday news conference. “Mayor Stanton needs to decide which side he is on, whether he is on the side of Guadalupe or on the side of President Trump.”
The news followed an evening of protest outside ICE offices in Phoenix. Seven people were arrested Wednesday night during demonstrations on North Central Avenue. Protesters had been trying to block federal vehicles from leaving the grounds, including one carrying Garcia de Rayos.
The effort was organized by Puente Arizona, the group known for blocking roads surrounding a Donald Trump campaign rally in Fountain Hills last year.
Check-in ended in deportation
In 2008, Garcia de Rayos was swept up in one of formerÂ Maricopa County SheriffÂ Joe Arpaio’s work-site raids targeting the Golfland Entertainment Centers, which operated several water and mini-golf parks.
Sheriff’s deputies seized hundreds of employment records and later arrested Garcia de RayosÂ at her house in Mesa. She pleaded guilty to aÂ charge of criminal impersonation, a Class 6 felony, the lowest level.
As a result of the charge, Garcia de Rayos was turned over to ICE, Ybarra-Maldonado said. She spent six months in ICE custody at the Eloy Detention Center, he said.
In 2013,Â an immigration judge found Garcia de Rayos had no legal stance to remain in the U.S. and issued a voluntary departure instructing her to leave the country, Ybarra-Maldonado said.
After Garcia de Rayos appealed, ICE gave her an order of supervision instructing her to check in yearly, and then every six months, Ybarra-Maldonado said.
Garcia de Rayos was scheduled for her six month check-in Wednesday but instead of being told to come back in six months, sheÂ was taken into custody, he said.
Ybarra-MaldonadoÂ immediately filed documents asking ICE to stay her deportation, on the grounds that she has lived in the U.S. since she was 14, has two children who are U.S. citizens, and she is fighting to have her felony conviction thrown out on the grounds that Arpaio’s work-site raids were unconstitutional.
He also pointed out that she had been just a few months too old to apply for Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program granting deportation deferments and work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Her felony conviction, though, most likely would have disqualified her from that program.
“She’sÂ built a great life for herself and her children, and her kids want her to be home at night. Her kids want her to take them to school, to be at the parent-teacher conference, to see them go to prom, and to see them graduate, and more than anything she deserves to live a life she has built.”
Outside the Phoenix ICE facility Wednesday night, Maria Castro, 23, stood in support of the family.
“Lupita was a victim of Arpaio’s raids,” she said,Â “and now she is a victim of Trump’s deportation machine.”
Republic reportersÂ Brenna Goth, Laura GÃ³mezÂ and Ronald J. Hansen contributed to this article.