Protests break out after illegal deported in Arizona
Mother taken into custody after decades in U.S.; 7 arrested in Phoenix protest after trying to block her apparent transfer
For four years, federal immigration authorities have given Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos a pass to remain in the U.S. rather than deport her back to Mexico.
That changed Wednesday, when Garcia de Rayos went to check in as usual at the central Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Instead of being released, she was taken into custody, while her husband, two children — both U.S.-born citizens — and a group of supporters watched in tears.
And by Wednesday night, her case had become the latest epicenter of the national debate over immigration enforcement. Before midnight, after hours of protests outside the ICE office on North Central Avenue, federal vehicles left the facility, possibly with Garcia de Rayos inside.
Her family and supporters fear Garcia de Rayos, 36, may be deported quickly to Mexico. That, they say, would make her among the first casualties under a shift in policy by ICE under President Donald Trump.
Earlier, protesters had gathered at the ICE office in an attempt to block federal vehicles from leaving the grounds. Inside the gates were buses and vans used to transport people in ICE custody to detention centers, or to the border for deportation.
After 9 p.m., police officers amassed on the south side of the facility as protesters continued to block access, chanting “Justice!” and “Power to the people, no one is illegal!”
Response from ICE
In a written statement, ICE officials confirmed that Garcia de Rayos had been detained based on a prior removal order issued by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. The order became final in May 2013.
“Relevant databases indicate Ms. Garcia De Rayos has a prior felony conviction dating from March 2009 for criminal impersonation,” the statement said.
The felony conviction stems from a 2008 work-site raid by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, said attorney Ybarra-Maldonado.
He said Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. in 1996, when she was 14.
In 2008, she was swept up in one of former Maricopa County Sheriff 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 Rayos at her house in Mesa. She pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal impersonation, a Class 6 felony, the lowest level.
As a result of the charge, Garcia de Rayos was then turned over to ICE, Ybarra-Maldonado said. She spent six months in ICE custody at the Eloy Detention Center, he said.
In 2013, 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 the voluntary departure, ICE gave her an order of supervision instructing her to check in yearly, and then every six months, Ybarra-Maldonado said.