Phoenix — For eight years, Guadalupe García de Rayos had checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office here, a requirement since she was caught using a fake Social Security number during a raid in 2008 at a water park where she worked. Every year since then, she has walked in and out of the meetings after a brief review of her case and some questions. But not this year. On Wednesday, immigration agents arrested Ms. Rayos, 35, and began procedures to send her back to Mexico, a country she has not seen since she left it 21 years ago. As a van carrying Ms. Rayos left the ICE building, protesters were waiting. They surrounded it, chanting, “Liberation, not deportation”. Her daughter, Jacqueline, joined in, holding a sign that read, “Not one more deportation”. One man, Manuel Saldana, tied himself to one of the van’s front wheels and said, “I’m going to stay here as long as it takes”. Soon, police officers in helmets had surrounded Mr. Saldana. They cut off the ties holding him to the tire and rounded up at least six others who were blocking the front and back of the van, arresting them all. The driver quickly put the van in reverse and rolled back into the building. Ms. Rayos was one of several detainees inside the van. It was unclear whether officials planned to take them to Mexico or to detention. By midnight on Thursday, her husband said he was not sure where she was. A vehicle had just left the building under police escort, and he said he suspected she may have been inside. Ms. Rayos was arrested just days after the Trump administration broadened the definition of “criminal alien”, a move that immigrants’ rights advocates say could easily apply to a majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States. “We’re living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants,” Ms. Rayos’s lawyer, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, said Wednesday after leaving the building here that houses the federal immigration agency, known by its acronym, ICE. The Obama administration made a priority of deporting people who were deemed a threat to public or national safety, had ties to criminal gangs, or had committed serious felony offenses or a series of misdemeanor crimes. Ms. Rayos did not fit any of these criteria, which is why she was allowed to stay in the United States even after a judge issued a deportation order against her in 2013. That all changed under Mr. Trump. Among the 18 executive orders that he has issued since taking office on Jan. 20 is one stipulating that undocumented immigrants convicted of any criminal offense — and even those who have not been charged but are believed to have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” — have become a priority for deportation (…) Lawyers from two of the nation’s leading civil rights’ groups said Ms. Rayos might be the first undocumented immigrant to be arrested during a scheduled meeting with immigration officials since Mr. Trump took office. Thousands of others run a similar risk when they report for their regular immigration checks, in large part because federal agents are now free to decide who is and is not a threat to public safety, those advocates said.
Fernanda Santos in She Showed Up Yearly to Meet Immigration Agents. Now They’re Deporting Her (NYT)