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Mexican woman deported after routine immigration check-in

By Andrew V. Pestano

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deported Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a married mother of two allowed to stay in the United States despite a previous conviction, leading to protests.

Officials arrested her Wednesday after a routine immigration check-in in Phoenix. Her deportation came 24 hours later.

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Garcia de Rayos was convicted in 2008 for using a fake Social Security number and was ordered to be sent back to Mexico. She appealed and a court allowed her to stay in the United States as long as she checked in once a year with immigration authorities.

Garcia de Rayos did so for eight years and for eight years immigration officials let her stay in the country. But on Wednesday, that routine changed.

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Under the Obama administration, immigration officials focused their efforts on deporting undocumented immigrants guilty of the most serious crimes and often allowed people like Garcia de Rayos to stay in the country. President Donald Trump, during his election campaign, promised to deport all undocumented immigrants, then softened his rhetoric, saying he first intends to focus on criminals.

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Garcia de Rayos might be the first undocumented immigrant arrested during a meeting with immigration officials since Trump took office, lawyers from civil rights groups told The New York Times.

In anticipation of a possible arrest under the Trump administration, the Puente Arizona group staged a protest outside of the ICE offices in Phoenix after Garcia de Rayos' deportation. About 200 people joined at the peak of the rally.

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"She has been deported," Puente Arizoa Director Carlos Garcia said Wednesday. "And this has been one of the first victims of President Trump."

Phoenix police said officers made about seven arrests after an incident in which protesters blocked an ICE van with Garcia de Rayos inside.

"Despite repeated warnings, some engaging in criminal acts are refusing to stop. Additional arrests for the criminal acts are imminent," Phoenix police said in a statement. "Besides the few people engaged in criminal acts, most people out here are peaceful and exercising their rights properly."

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ICE on Thursday confirmed the deportation by saying Garcia de Rayos was "removed" to Mexico shortly before 10 a.m.

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Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said what occurred Wednesday showed "President Trump's mass deportation plan makes our country less safe."

"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 in a statement on Thursday. "What happened last night to Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos is a travesty."

Speaking at a press conference in Mexico, Garcia de Rayos said she had no regrets for moving to the United States and living there without documents for years.

"The truth is I was there for my children. For a better future. To work for them. And I don't regret it, because I did it for love," Garcia de Rayos said Thursday. "I'm going to keep fighting so that they continue to study in their country, and so that their dreams become a reality."

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