Earlier this week, Guadalupe García de Rayos, 35, found herself in the back of a van at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Phoenix, AZ. Though many loved ones and protestors showed up in her defense, García de Rayos was deported to Nogales, a border town in Mexico that she hasn’t seen in more than 20 years.
García de Rayos, who is now in Nogales, said officers handled her as if she was El Chapo.
No words. Separated from her family; deported last night after #TheRepublicans expanded the definition of #CriminalAlien to send more of the backbone of our country away. Has never harmed anyone; only did what she needed to survive & support her family. | #ToImmigrantsWithLove #GuadalupeGarciaDeRayos you are loved, your family is respected, you belong here; this is your country too. I am so sad. #SeeTheirFaces #SayTheirNames
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García de Rayos told El Universal that after leaving the ICE offices, she was handed off to another set of officials. At no point was she allowed to contact her lawyer or make phone calls, and the officers wouldn’t tell García de Rayos where she was headed. She told El Universal, “I felt like a criminal.”
García de Rayos explained to reporters why she checked in with ICE, even though she knew it was risky under the new administration.
Guadalupe de Garcia de Rayos is one of the first victims in AZ under President Trump's executive order to deport unauthorized immigrants
— Charlene Santiago (@santiagoc_17) February 8, 2017
Because of a prior conviction for identity theft (García de Rayos used someone else’s social security number to gain employment), García de Rayos was obligated to check in with ICE every six months. Though she had never had any problems during these appointments in the past, García de Rayos knew this time could be different.
According to CNN, García de Rayos understood that she could face deportation under the Trump administration, but she wanted to “confront” her situation, rather than stay in hiding. In a press conference, García de Rayos said, “I don’t regret it, because I know I did this so that more families could see what’s in store, what could happen, and so that they could know what they could risk.”
Despite the events of the last week, Rayos has expressed that she doesn’t regret moving to the United States.
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The mother of two told CNN:
The truth is I was there [in the United States] for my children. For a better future. To work for them. And I don’t regret it, because I did it for love.
Since García de Rayos’s deportation, her children have crossed the border to see their mother.
— Polo Sandoval (@PoloSandovalCNN) February 10, 2017
According to CNN, García de Rayos’s daughter, Stephanie, released a statement, saying:
“We don’t deserve to go through this. No family deserves to go through this. It’s heartbreaking. No one should feel this much pain, no one should go through this much suffering.”
Under the current immigration system, García de Rayos has almost no options that will allow her to return to the U.S.
Ray Ybarra Maldonado, García de Rayos’s attornery, told FOX News:
“Getting back to the U.S., legally, there’s really no route for her. There’s no avenue for her. There’s no application she can submit. There’s no waiver she can submit. I mean, this is a prime example of our failed immigration system.”