The detention and deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos sparked protests in Phoenix
. Her attorneys believe this is part of President Donald Trump's executive order focused on removing undocumented immigrants with a history of arrests.
Garcia de Rayos' husband, who wanted to keep his identity private, said he feared his wife would face challenges under the Trump administration.
"My wife is not a threat to the United States. She is a great person," he said. "She is a good citizen regardless of her status. We are a normal family, just like any other American family."
"It was kind of surprising. Since Trump... was elected president we knew what the outcome was going to be," he said. "Him being, not being the president yet and he was already talking bad about immigrants and other race, we knew he was going to attack the Hispanic community and other communities."
After a yearly check-in with federal authorities on Wednesday, Garcia de Rayos was deported. She was taken to Nogales, Mexico where she met with her teenage children Thursday.
Garcia de Rayos is from a town in southern Mexico and illegally came to the U.S. when she was 14. On Thursday she told reporters she doesn't regret anything, and she will continue to fight because she wants her children to have a better life. Both of her kids, now teenagers, were born in the United States.
In 2008 Garcia de Rayos was arrested in a workplace raid and a year later she was convicted of a felony for using a fake social security number to get a job. Her attorneys say that raid was later ruled unconstitutional.
Court records show Garcia de Rayos had been ordered to self-deport in 2013, but she had been making yearly check-ins with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration lawyers say under the Obama administration she wasn't a priority for deportation, but believe that may have changed with President Trump.
Now the Mexican government
is urging its citizens in the U.S. to stay informed and keep in contact with the Mexican consulate. In a statement authorities said Mexican nationals face a "new reality" in the U.S.
Tucson immigration attorney Selma Taljanovic is now telling clients to carry proper documentation with them at all times. She is also advising them to follow the law and go to necessary appointments with federal authorities.
Another local attorney, Maurice Goldman, is giving similar advice. He says the problem is now people will be less inclined to show up for appointments and communicate with law enforcement because of fears of being deported.
"I hope that at some point Congress can look at this entire situation and come up with a smart and reasoned reform to our immigration laws that will help people get though the process," Goldman said.
According to the Pew Research Center
there are an estimated 35,000 undocumented immigrants in the Tucson area.
The Consulate of Mexico in Tucson
handles about 100 walk-in and scheduled appointments a day. A spokesperson says the priority now is making sure immigrants know their rights and they can get help with paperwork, getting a passport, etc.
The consulate has a 24/7 hotline available at (855) 463 - 6395.
Advocates for stricter immigration laws praise the deportation of Garcia de Rayos. In a statement, ICE said:
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers removed Ms. Garcia to Mexico Thursday morning shortly before 10 a.m. MST through the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) coordinated her repatriation closely with Mexican consular representatives.
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."
Immigration experts not familiar with the details of Garcia de Rayos' case say there is no quick and easy way for her to come back into the U.S. legally.