Mother of 2 U.S. citizen teenagers became one of Trump’s first deportations

Guadalupe, 35, is not a killer or a rapist.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos (far right) with her family. CREDIT: Puente Arizona
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos (far right) with her family. CREDIT: Puente Arizona

The U.S. government has deported Guadalupe García de Rayos, 35, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has lived in Arizona for 21 years, the advocacy group Puente Arizona confirmed Thursday.

Rayos, who had been in the country since she was 14, was caught in an immigration raid in 2008 and arrested on charges of using a fake Social Security number. She was detained for six months by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and released. Since then, she has had to check in every six months under an order of supervision as part of her release.

Wednesday’s check-in meeting was different, however. Her lawyer Ray Ybarra Maldonado recounted on a press call Thursday that they had waited for a long time to speak with a supervisor to see whether she could continue her order of supervision. Instead, Rayos was taken into custody and ordered deported, a decision that the ICE agency explained resulted from a removal order she received in May 2013.

“Relevant databases indicate Ms. Garcia de Rayos has a prior felony conviction dating from March 2009 for criminal impersonation,” according to a statement from ICE.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos (second to left) with her family. CREDIT: Puente Arizona
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos (second to left) with her family. CREDIT: Puente Arizona

Late Wednesday night into Thursday morning, Rayos’ family and other advocates took to the ICE agency in Phoenix to protest her detention, including one man who “tied himself to one of the front wheels” of a van that they suspected carried Rayos. Seven people were arrested. Politicians including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) also supported Rayos before she was deported.

But on Thursday, Rayos was deported to Nogales, in the Mexican state of Sonora.

Advocates say that Rayos is not a priority for deportation because she poses no threat to the United States. In the two decades that Rayos has been in the country, she got married, became a productive member in her community, and had two U.S.-born children who are now teenagers.

Immigration advocates have blamed Rayos’ deportation on President Trump’s January 25 executive order, which broadly prioritizes the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have been “convicted, charged, or [are] liable to be charged for any criminal offense or guilty of misrepresentation to government officials,” Salon reported. Previously, the Obama administration prioritized the deportation of undocumented immigrants with serious criminal offenses. But Rayos was likely considered a low-priority deportation case because the Obama administration also issued a memo urging ICE agents to exercise discretion when detaining and deporting parents of U.S. citizen children and other people with ties to the United States.

Rayos does not fit the description of the kind of undocumented “killers and rapists” that Trump has promised to deport. And it’s unknown whether she would have been able to stay regardless of the president in power. The Obama administration carried out millions of deportations, including people like Rayos who want to thrive in the United States, such as a Mennonite pastor and young children who fled violence in other countries.