Wall Street Journal
By Miriam Jordan
February 9, 2017
Dozens of protesters gathered outside a federal facility in Phoenix, Ariz., on Wednesday night to stop the deportation of a Mexican woman in the custody of federal immigration officials.
The mother of two U.S.-born children may be the first undocumented immigrant previously considered a low priority for deportation to be removed from the U.S. under a new Trump administration crackdown, immigration advocates said.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, was detained Wednesday when she visited the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for a regular check-in. She was required to visit every six months following her arrest in 2009 during a worksite raid conducted by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Mr. Arpaio lost a bid for re-election in November.
In a statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the immigrant, who arrived in the U.S. when she was 14, was being detained based on a removal order issued in May 2013.
“Relevant databases indicate Ms. Garcia de Rayos has a prior felony conviction dating from March 2009 for criminal impersonation,” a statement from ICE said.
It is common for undocumented immigrants to use false documents to obtain work.
Dozens of demonstrators surrounded an ICE van they believed would carry Ms. Garcia de Rayos to a detention facility or the border for deportation. Others blocked a gate where a white bus, also believed to be bound for a detention center, idled with its lights on.
During the standoff, which was live-streamed on Facebook through the night, the protesters shouted “Not one more” deportation and “Free Lupita” in Spanish. Police said they arrested seven protesters, including some as they sat on the ground clinging to the van’s wheels.
It was unclear if Ms. Garcia de Rayos was being transported to a detention facility, or elsewhere.
Ms. Garcia de Rayos’s case could signal the rollout of President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order to step up deportations.
Mr. Trump instructed authorities to target for removal undocumented immigrants convicted or charged of any crimes. His executive order on immigration includes undocumented immigrants who commit “fraud or willful misrepresentation” on government applications.
President Barack Obama had prioritized the deportation of violent offenders and recent border crossers, a policy his administration said was justified given limited enforcement resources.
“We know what side we’re on when the deportation vans are loaded with our loved ones,” said Carlos Garcia, director of Puente Arizona, an advocacy group. “Families like Lupita’s are not going to be easily separated.”
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