The Mexican government issued a warning for Mexican citizens living in the United States to “take precautions” after an undocumented mother was deported during a routine visit with immigration authorities in February.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was taken into custody on Feb. 8 after a scheduled check-in with the central Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Shortly after, she was deported.
The 36-year-old mother of two was first arrested in Mesa, Arizona, in 2008 when it was discovered she had used another person’s Social Security number when applying for employment. Garcia de Rayos had been living in the country since arriving in 1996 as an undocumented immigrant at the age of 14. Her husband is also undocumented.
She was convicted of a non-violent felony in 2009 for criminal impersonation. In 2013, an immigration judge found Garcia de Rayos had no legal standing to remain in the country and issued a voluntary departure order, instructing her to return to Mexico.
Garcia de Rayos struck a deal with immigration authorities under the Obama administration. In order to remain the country, she had to first check-in every year, and then every six months. Garcia de Rayos followed the order diligently; but this week, when her routine appointment was due, she wasn’t allowed to leave.
Ray Ybarra-Maldonado, a Phoenix lawyer representing Garcia de Rayos believes her deportation “has 100 percent to do with (Trump’s) executive order.” He filed documents pleading with ICE to allow Garcia de Rayos to stay, but those efforts were unsuccessful.
Protesters tried to block the ICE van with Garcia de Rayos inside as it tried to leave for Mexico, with one man even tying himself to the wheels of the vehicle. The attempt failed, as immigration officials eventually left the grounds through another exit.
Carlos García, director of the group Puente Arizona, said other undocumented immigrants required to check in will most likely go into hiding as news of Garcia de Rayos’ fate became widespread.
“Most definitely, if … when people come to check in they are going to get detained and deported, I would assume most people will not turn themselves in,” Garcia said.
Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement claiming Rayos’ deportation was done in a “dignified and safe” manner.
“The entire Mexican community is invited to take precautions and stay in touch with your nearest consulate, to get the help needed to cope with a situation of this kind,” the statement said.
Mexican consulates “have intensified their work of protecting fellow nationals, foreseeing more severe immigration measures to be implemented by the authorities of this country, and possible violations to constitutional precepts during such operations and problems with due process,” the letter added.
The ministry claims Garcia de Rayos’ outcome “illustrates a new reality for the Mexican community living in the United States, facing the most severe implementation of immigration control measures.”
Under Trump, priority has been given to rooting out people with criminal records who are in the country illegally.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed on Feb. 10 that it had completed a week-long “enforcement surge” and arrested 160 undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles, 150 of whom had “criminal histories.”
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