Mexico warned its citizens living in the United States on Friday to “take precautions” and remain in contact with consular officials a day after the deportation of an undocumented mother following a routine visit with U.S. immigration authorities.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 35, was deported Thursday after she checked in with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix a day earlier. The action sparked protests by supporters of Garcia de Rayos and drew praise from proponents of stricter enforcement of immigration laws.
“The case involving Mrs. Garcia de Rayos illustrates a new reality for the Mexican community living in the United States, facing the most severe implementation of immigration control measures,” Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.
Mexican consulates “have intensified their work of protecting fellow nationals, foreseeing more severe immigration measures to be implemented by the authorities of this country, and possible violations to constitutional precepts during such operations and problems with due process,” the statement said.
On Wednesday, Garcia de Rayos went for her routine check-in with immigration authorities, her eighth visit since her 2008 arrest and conviction for using a fake Social Security number.
After each previous meeting, the married mother of two was released and went back to her family, but this week she was detained and deported within 24 hours to her native Mexico. Her attorney said the deportation was a direct result of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
U.S. immigration officials said there was nothing special about her case — she committed a crime and her deportation order was enforced.
Immigrants urged to ‘know the risks’
The Mexican Foreign Ministry statement said, “It is important that fellow nationals familiarize themselves with the different scenarios they might encounter and know where they can go to receive new information and know all their rights.”
The statement said consular officials from Nogales, Arizona, were present when Garcia de Rayos was deported to Mexico on Thursday to ensure it was done in a “dignified and safe” manner.
It remains to be seen whether similar deportations are taking place in other states.
Activists have said some unauthorized immigrants, fearing deportation, may skip routine check-ins with U.S. immigration authorities.
Activists and Garcia de Rayos’ attorney said they warned her she could be deported under Trump’s policy. They offered sanctuary at a church, but she decided to check in with immigration authorities anyway.
In an interview Friday, Garcia de Rayos’ husband, who asked that his name not be used, told CNN that unauthorized immigrants need to know the risk they face when reporting to ICE.
“They have the choice of showing up and take a chance, take a risk of being detained just like my wife was detained and deported,” he said. “They also have the option of sanctuary. Or they have the option of not showing up. … I would tell them to look for a lawyer, to look for a human rights organization.”
The term “sanctuary city” is a broad term applied to jurisdictions that have policies in place designed to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement actions. Cities, counties and some states have a range of informal policies as well as laws that qualify as “sanctuary” positions.
Most of the policies revolve around not cooperating with federal law enforcement on immigration policies. Many of the largest cities in the country have forms of such policies.
The ACLU circulated English and Spanish fliers on social media instructing people in danger of deportation what to do if ICE agents come to their doors. Among the tips: “If they ask to enter, ask if they have a warrant signed by a judge and if so, ask to see it (through a window or slipped under the door).”
Arrests and fear
In the Texas capital, City Councilman Greg Casar said children in Austin “have not come to school” and “families … have locked themselves into their apartments” during the last 24 hours because of ICE enforcement actions, according to CNN affiliate KEYE-TV.
In Los Angeles, ICE said Friday that it had arrested about 160 people from a dozen countries during a five-day, five-county operation aimed at undocumented criminals, immigration fugitives and people who re-entered the United States illegally after deportation.
About 150 of the suspects have criminal histories, including felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, according to an ICE statement. There were 10 people with no criminal history but five had orders of removal or had been previously deported.
The ICE statement said the arrests were part of what it called a regular “enforcement surge.” It denied reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps, calling them “false, dangerous, and irresponsible.”
“These reports create panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger,” the statement said.
But politicians and advocacy groups maintained that the agency had not acted in the public interest.
“I find it particularly galling that after misleading the media yesterday, ICE would today lecture the public about the dangers of ‘false reporting,’ ” California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León wrote in a statement. “If ICE is looking for the culprit to yesterday’s panic they need only look in the mirror.”
The state Senate leader said he was “stunned” the agency had previously told the media that reports of 100 immigrants being arrested were “grossly exaggerated,” calling the comments “blatantly false.”
Undocumented immigrant: ‘I am not a criminal’
There are about 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.
Mexicans made up 52 percent of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014, but their numbers have declined in recent years, the center reported.
The center estimates 5.8 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico were living in the United States in 2014, down from 6.4 million in 2009.
One undocumented immigrant, Juan Miguel Cornejo, said he faces an immigration hearing in April to determine whether he can remain in the United States, where he has lived with his wife and two children for nearly 17 years.
Cornejo, who said he considers himself a political refugee because of his criticism of Mexico’s government, told CNN he has returned to this country after being deported several times. If he is ordered to leave the country in April, he said, he will move with his family to Canada.
“I am not a criminal or a terrorist,” he said during a demonstration Thursday night in Phoenix to support Garcia de Rayos.
“The only terrorists are the people who pass laws against working people, against the people who lay the brick(s) in the construction of their homes, the people who harvest the food on their tables,” he said.