PHOENIX (CN) – An undocumented woman detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Phoenix on Wednesday was one of the first to be deported back to Mexico under President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.
Carlos Garcia, director of the human rights organization Puente Arizona, confirmed Thursday afternoon that Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was deported to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
Garcia described Garcia de Rayos as "one of the first victims of President Trump" during a press conference outside of the ICE building in downtown Phoenix.
"She is now in Nogales, and her family is here," Garcia said.
Garcia de Rayos, 36, came to the United States from Mexico 22 years ago, when she was 14 years old. In 2008, she was arrested during a workplace raid at Golfland Sunsplash, an amusement park in Mesa, Arizona, by then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The raid was one of many conducted by Arpaio to enforce state identity-theft laws. The legality of the raids was upheld in court following a civil rights class action filed by Puente Arizona, a human rights group, but Arpaio disbanded the unit.
Garcia de Rayos, the mother of two U.S.-born children, was convicted of felony impersonation and served six months in detention. An immigration court ordered in 2013 that she should be deported back to Mexico, but the Barack Obama administration never acted on that order.
Instead, Garcia de Rayos attended routine immigration checks at the ICE building in downtown Phoenix, where she was issued an order of deportation Wednesday. A van carrying her left the building late Wednesday night.
Her 14-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, said it was indescribable to watch her mother be transported out of the building in a van.
"It was really heart-dropping," she said at the press conference, breaking into tears. "No one should be packing their mother's suitcase."
Jacqueline’s brother Angel said they would not stop fighting to reunite with their mother.
"My sister needs her mother," he said. "We want her back, back in our arms, back over here."
Garcia, the Puente director, said it was likely that other undocumented immigrants in similar circumstances would not show up for scheduled checks with ICE.
"They cannot trust the process," Garcia said. "Not once did [ICE] allow Guadalupe to contact her family or her own attorneys."
Under Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on immigration, it is a priority for Homeland Security to “remove promptly those individuals whose legal claims to remain in the United States have been lawfully rejected, after any appropriate civil or criminal sanctions have been imposed.”
Ray Ybarra-Maldonado, an attorney for Garcia de Rayos, said he filed a request to stay her deportation with ICE yesterday, but he never received a response.
"Legally, there are not a lot of options to get her back," Ybarra-Maldonado said.
The husband of Garcia de Rayos, who is also undocumented and does not want his name made public, says his children would travel to Nogales with immigration activists to see their mother on Thursday.
Seven protesters were arrested Wednesday night, after they surrounded the van carrying Garcia de Rayos to block it from leaving the ICE building, Phoenix police say. Protesters wrapped themselves around the tires of the van, and blocked it from moving with their bodies.
After Trump issued the January executive order, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he would fight attempts by the Trump administration to turn the Phoenix Police Department into a "mass deportation force."
Francisca Porchas, an organizer with Puente, called out Stanton – a Democrat – for the police presence Wednesday.
"There are things that the elected officials can do right now to stop the deportation machine that Obama created and Trump is operating at a million miles per hour," Porchas said.
"Where were you last night?" Porchas asked of Stanton. "We need you to put actions behind saying Phoenix will not become a deportation machine."
In a statement Thursday, Stanton stressed that he does not want the city's police department to be used for deportations.
"Rather 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," Stanton said. "It is outrageous, and precisely why as long as I am mayor, Phoenix will not participate in the 287(g) program or enter into any other agreements with the Trump administration that aim to advance his mass deportation plans."
The deportation of Garcia de Rayos coincided with a visit to the Arizona-Mexico border by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Kelly met with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, for a tour of the port Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales and to meet with Border Patrol agents.Follow @jamierossCNS
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