Arizona activists demonstrated in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix on Monday, protesting immigration policy that led to the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos one year ago.
Garcia, the undocumented mother of two who had been living in the U.S. for more than 20 years, was apprehended during a regular check-in at her local ICE office on Feb. 8, 2017. The next day, she was deported back to Mexico, where she has been living ever since.
The news drew national attention, as she was the first person to be removed under the then-newbie President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration executive action. Under the order, undocumented people who had been committed of any criminal offense were prioritized for deportation. Unlike under President Obama, where violent perpetrators were emphasized, this meant that Garcia, who was arrested in 2008 for using a fake Social Security Number to get work, was now a priority for deportation.
Her arrest aroused protests across the state, which continue one year later, largely energized by her teenage daughter Jacqueline Rayos-Garcia.
“It’s been really heartbreaking, because it’s just like a big chunk of me has been ripped away,” Rayos-Garcia told USA Today, noting that she has visited her mother three times during school breaks. “It hasn’t been the same, because she’s usually there when I get home, asking me how has my day been, how was school. And now I don’t have anyone to talk to.”
Demonstrators, who projected an ICE logo that read “U.S. Immigration and Ethnic Cleansing Enforcement” onto the agency’s building, called for an end to deportations and the termination of plans to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We are committed to fight the Trump Administration’s ethnic cleansing,” Puente, the Phoenix-based human rights group behind the protest, said in a post on Facebook.
¡HOY! Te esperamos para apoyar a la familia y compañeros en la lucha un año después de la deportación de Guadalupe Garcí…
Garcia’s lawyer Ray Ybarra Maldonado, present at the rally, also announced that he plans to reopen the fraudulent ID case that led to her felony conviction and subsequent deportation.
“It’s heartbreaking for me to come back a year later and witness the scene of the crime,” said Maldonado, referring to Garcia’s deportation. “Because that’s what it was.”
The Maricopa County Superior Court will rule on his petition in March.