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Attorney seeks to reopen case of Mexican mother deported

Posted at 2:53 AM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 04:53:39-05

The lawyer for an immigrant mother deported shortly after President Donald Trump took office said Monday he wants to reopen the case against her for using a fraudulent ID to get a job - a felony conviction that left her open to deportation.

Attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado told a late afternoon rally of about 40 people outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in central Phoenix that a ruling on his petition is expected in Maricopa County Superior Court next month.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos' 17-year-old son Angel and 15-year-old daughter Jackie, who both have American citizenship, also addressed the rally. Her husband, who is in the U.S. illegally, also spoke but was not identified by advocates for his protection from immigration authorities.

Maldonado has said he believes that his client's arrest in the fraud case was carried out improperly. A migrant who is in the U.S. illegally can be deported if he or she has a felony conviction.

Garcia de Rayos was among workers arrested years ago in one of then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio's first investigations into Phoenix-area businesses suspected of hiring immigrants with fake documents.

Garcia de Rayos was not arrested in a workplace raid, but was taken into custody six months later when investigators found discrepancies in her employment documents. She pleaded guilty in March 2009 to a reduced charge of criminal impersonation and was sentenced to two years of probation. Although she was placed into deportation proceedings, she received leniency under Obama administration guidelines that targeted immigrants who had committed dangerous crimes.

"It's heartbreaking for me to come back a year later and witness the scene of the crime," said Maldonado, referring to his client's deportation. "Because that's what it was."

Last year, Garcia de Rayos showed up with her lawyer for a routine check-in with ICE officials and was detained instead of being allowed to leave after checking in. She was deported on Feb. 9, 2017.

Garcia de Rayos, who turns 37 this month, subsequently became a cause celebre for advocates who say Trump's immigration policies hurt families.

Since she was arrested, many more people have been deported, "dozens and hundreds of Lupitas," said Carlos Garcia, the executive director of the Puente immigrant advocacy group, using the woman's nickname.

ICE authorities last year said Garcia de Rayos' case underwent a thorough review that determined she had no legal basis to remain in the United States.

She is currently living in her hometown in Mexico's Guanajuato state.