Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos is at the center of president Donald Trump’s deportation efforts, which he's spoken about extensively since his 2015 presidential bid.
The mother of two has resided in the US since she was 14-years-old — but now she has been deported back to Mexico.
For the past eight years, Rayos has checked in with ICE every six months since she was caught working at a water park using a fake social security number in 2008. The Phoenix resident would usually walk in and out of the meetings with ICE, but this year was different.
On Wednesday, the 36-year-old was arrested at her check-in and ICE began the process of deporting her. Rayos suspected she would have difficulty at this particular meeting because of Trump’s rhetoric and controversial executive orders. She arrived at the immigration office in central Phoenix with supporters, who were later informed of her fate.
“We all knew something could be different this time with the new administration,” Carlos Garcia, director of the immigrant advocacy group Puente Arizona, told the Los Angeles Times. “She went in with the lawyer and didn’t come out. That was pretty much all there was.”
Rayos’ supporters immediately became protesters who chanted, “Liberation, not deportation,” and “Not one more,” as a van holding the Mexican native attempted to leave the ICE building. Rayos’ daughter, Jacqueline, 14, looked on holding a sign that read, “Not one more deportation.”
The protesters became physical in their effort to block the deportation of Rayos.
“I’m going to stay here as long as it takes,” said Manuel Saldana, who tied himself to one of the van’s front wheels.
Saldana was met with police officers in gear who cut him off from the tire. He was arrested along with six other individuals who had been blocking the van from the front and back. The van, whose destination is unclear and which also held other detainees, was forced to return to the ICE building.
ICE officials released a statement regarding the mother of two:
"Ms. Garcia de Rayos is currently being detained by ICE based on a removal order issued by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review which became final in May 2013."
Immigrant advocates attribute Trump’s recently changed standard of priority deportation to Rayos’ situation. Under the Obama administration, priority deportation was reserved for recent arrivals, people with an extensive criminal record, and individuals who have entered the US without proper documentation several times.
But recently, Trump has begun to include priority deportation to immigrants who have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” despite the lack of charges. In order words, if a person entered the US through non-official means, they committed a crime and are targeted to be deported immediately.
Puente Arizona will meet Rayos in Mexico, as the organization says it wasn't told that she was being deported today.
The Rayos family has received an immense amount of support through social media. On Twitter, people have been tweeting #FreeLupita to voice their outrage.