An Arizona-based undocumented mother of two U.S. citizens has been deported to Mexico amid protests. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who had lived in the U.S. for 21 years, is possibly the first undocumented person to be deported due to President Donald Trump's recent executive order on immigration.
On Feb. 8, 35-year-old Rayos visited the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, Arizona. She had been meeting with immigration officials annually since 2008, when she was identified as undocumented for having a falsified Social Security number.
In 2013, a judge ordered Rayos to be deported, but immigration officials had not followed through on the order due to the immigration priorities of the Obama administration. Under Obama, ICE officials prioritized violent offenders, repeat misdemeanor offenders and gang affiliates. Rayos did not meet that criteria for deportation.
This time, following Trump's recent executive order expanding the criteria for priority deportations, Rayos' situation had changed. She was promptly deported by ICE officials while her family tearfully stood by. Protesters had unsuccessfully attempted to block the van carrying Rayos from leaving the ICE center. Seven of the protesters were arrested on the scene.
"Lupita has been doing yearly check-ins with ICE and nothing happened," immigration activist Lucy Sandoval told CNN. "But this is a different time."
Activists had reportedly warned Rayos that she could be deported if she followed through on her annual meeting with ICE officers following Trump's executive order. The mother of two chose to go anyway.
"She wanted to confront this," Sandoval said. "She was brave ... She's a woman of faith."
Rayos was deported to Nogales, Mexico. She had not returned to her birth country since she was 14 years old, and has spent the majority of her life in the U.S.
"The only crime my mother committed was to go to work to give a better life for her children," Ms. Rayos' daughter, Jacqueline, told The New York Times.
On Feb. 9, 14-year-old Jacqueline packed a suitcase of her mother's belongings to send to her in Nogales.
"Nobody should have to pack her mother's bag," Jacqueline said.
ICE released a statement addressing Rayos' deportation, noting that she had committed a felony by using a fake Social Security number.
"Ms. Garcia, who has a prior felony conviction in Arizona for criminal impersonation, was the subject of a court-issued removal order that became final in July 2013," ICE officials said, according to KNXV.
"ICE will continue to focus on identifying and removing individuals with felony convictions who have final orders of removal issued by the nation's immigration courts," the statement added.
The majority of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants have used falsified Social Security numbers to work in America. Trump's executive order makes offenses such as these as much a priority for deportation as violent crimes.
"I think it covers just about every illegal alien in the country," said legal expert Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation.
Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, Rayos' attorney, believes that she might be the first undocumented immigrant to be deported as a direct result of Trump's executive order.
While protesters gathered in their ultimately failed attempts to prevent Rayos' deportation, Jacqueline issued a direct statement towards the president.
"I'd ask him, 'why would he want to take her from me?'" Jacqueline said. "She hasn't done anything wrong and I'm not scared of him."