The family of a woman deported as a result of one of President Donald Trump's executive orders has vowed to keep fighting for her case.
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Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was detained at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, Arizona, Wednesday night reportedly after presenting herself for a previously scheduled check-in appointment. ICE officers "removed Ms. Garcia to Mexico" Thursday morning in coordination with Mexican officials, according to a statement from the agency.
Garcia de Rayos' two teenage children, whose names were not released publicly, spoke this afternoon at a press conference outside of the ICE office.
"No one, no one should ever go through the pain of having their mom taken away from them or the pain of packing her suitcase. No one should go through their mother’s clothes, seeing, 'Oh is she going to need this? Oh is she going to need that?' Nobody should be packing their mother’s suitcase," Garcia de Rayos' daughter said today before breaking down in tears.
"She belongs with us," Garcia de Rayos' son said at the press conference. "And we’re going to keep on fighting, we’re not going to stop."
Undocumented immigrants who were a lower priority for deportation during the Obama administration may now be some of the first to be deported as a result of one of President Trump’s executive orders. Garcia de Rayos is the most publicized case to date.
The priority system used by ICE during the Obama administration was put in place because, according to Nina Rabin, a clinical professor of law at the University of Arizona, they wanted to prioritize more violent undocumented immigrants for deportation instead of those who were not deemed as serious of offenders.
Rabin told ABC News that such check-ins were “very common” for certain undocumented immigrants during the previous administration, including Garcia, who has a previous conviction for a non-violent offense.
“Partly because of the priorities under the Obama administration, ICE would administratively close a large number of cases and some of those involved continual check-in requirements,” Rabin said.
Rabin said that there were a "variety of reasons" why ICE officials may not have prioritized certain cases for deportation during the Obama administration, most notably if they thought there "wasn't evidence of any serious threat" posed by the individual in question.
"Many times it’s longtime residents who have U.S. citizen children or it could be that it was a very old conviction from a long time ago and since then they’ve shown rehabilitation or positive contributors to their community, and so for any of those reasons ICE was deciding not to use their resources on deporting people that qualified and instead focusing their resources on people who are serious criminal threats,” Rabin said.
According to the Arizona Republic, Garcia de Rayos was convicted in 2009 for impersonation. She was charged with a felony, but her lawyers told ABC15 that raid was subsequently ruled unconstitutional. Court documents obtained by ABC15 also show that Garcia had previously been ordered to self-deport.
"Ms. Garcia, who has a prior felony conviction in Arizona for criminal impersonation, was the subject of a court-issued removal order that became final in July 2013. Ms. Garcia’s immigration case underwent review at multiple levels of the immigration court system, including the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the judges held she did not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S. ICE will continue to focus on identifying and removing individuals with felony convictions who have final orders of removal issued by the nation’s immigration courts," ICE said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
The new executive order in question, called “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” was issued on Jan. 25.
"Many aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas present a significant threat to national security and public safety. This is particularly so for aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States,” the executive order states.
“We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies (agencies) to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States,” it reads.
Rabin said that the executive order makes it seem like President Trump and his administration “wants to go after everyone with equal fervor.”
“I think it's very clear that the intent behind the executive order is for this to result in the deportation of many people like her,” Rabin said of Garcia de Rayos.
Puente Arizona, an activist group that describes itself as a migrant justice organization, organized a demonstration in front of the ICE office in Phoenix Wednesday night, and a group spokesman confirmed to ABC News that they also had people demonstrating today. Phoenix Police Sgt. John Howard confirmed that seven people were arrested and charged with obstructing governmental operations and obstructing a public thoroughfare.
At Thursday's White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said Garcia de Rayos' case is "an ICE matter."
"The issue is developing in Arizona right now and I would refer you back to ICE," he said.
ABC News has reached out to Garcia de Rayos' attorney and the Arizona branch of the ACLU for comment, but did not immediately receive responses.