We are joined from Phoenix by Aarón Rayos, the husband of a mother of two U.S.-born children who is at the center of an immigration fight in Arizona and has been deported to Mexico. Guadalupe García de Rayos was arrested and detained Wednesday during a routine check-in with immigration officials. She had been living in the United States for the past 21 years, but had been arrested in 2008 during a raid on a water park in Maricopa County and convicted of a felony for using forged documents in order to get a job. Advocates say her arrest signals a clear shift by the Trump administration to deport people considered a “low priority” for removal under President Obama. We also speak with Francisca Porchas, organizing director of Puente Arizona.
AMY GOODMAN: The mother of two U.S.-born children who’s at the center of an immigration fight in Arizona has been deported to Mexico. Guadalupe García de Rayos was arrested and detained Wednesday during a routine check-in with immigration officials. She had been living in the United States for the past 21 years, but had been arrested in 2008 during a raid on a water park in Maricopa County and convicted of a felony for using forged documents in order to get a job.
Advocates say her arrest signals a clear shift by the Trump administration to deport people who are considered a “low priority” for removal, under President Obama. An executive order issued during the first week of [Trump’s] presidency vastly expanded those facing removal to include anyone found guilty of any offense, as well as accused of crimes but not convicted.
Speaking from Mexico Thursday, García said her problems started with the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a longtime supporter of Donald Trump.
GUADALUPE GARCÍA DE RAYOS: [translated] Arpaio, Arpaio—I was the victim of former County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After following through with the process, all was good. I was given permission. I was working. And everything was going well. And then, with the check that was done, the felony that Arpaio gave me came back, which made me a criminal. For them, I am a criminal. The simple fact that I work made me a criminal to them. I don’t think that is just. … Imagine that I underwent a checkup every year, and they wait, and they see that everything is good. And then they say, no, they cannot give me permission, that I will be arrested. They practically took away my right that I had before, for the felony that I previously had.
AMY GOODMAN: Guadalupe García’s rapid deportation after a routine check-in comes as thousands of immigrants around the country face similar check-ins. On Wednesday, hundreds protested her removal by surrounding the van carrying her away from the immigration office, where she was taken into custody. One man locked himself to the wheels of the van, while others blockaded it with their bodies.
PROTESTER: Stopping the kidnapping of Lupita, so that she can be back with her family. I’m here because today it’s Lupita, tomorrow it may be my mom, and the next day it might be your mom. We need to stop the deportations, because there are 8 million people at risk. There are 8 million people who are a priority in the Trump administration, in the Trump deportation machine. And he’s not going to stop it. We have to stop it, in your city, here in Phoenix. Wherever you are, you can do this, too.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Phoenix, where we’re joined by Aarón Rayos, who is the husband of Guadalupe García de Rayos, who was just deported to Nogales, Mexico. His wife had been living in the United States for 21 years and leaves behind two teenage children, who were also born in the United States. And we’re joined by Francisca Porchas, the organizing director for Puente Arizona, a grassroots human rights movement for migrant justice. She live-streamed the protest on Wednesday as people tried to prevent the van, the deportation van, from moving forward.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s begin with Aarón Rayos. Tell us your thoughts right now, where your wife is, where your children are.
AARÓN RAYOS: Well, my wife and my children are at the border of Mexico, Nogales, Sonora.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you describe what happened on Wednesday? How did this all go down?
AARÓN RAYOS: Well, she just went for the regular check-in, you know, with ICE. She has been doing this for the past eight years. Every year, like, they will let her out. They say, “OK, you’re in good standards. You haven’t done anything wrong with the law or anything. Just come back in a year.” So, Wednesday, last Wednesday, what happened is she went to a regular check-in, and they decided to arrest my wife, because under new Trump administration, with his new laws that he’s signed, she’s a priority now, according to his new executive orders.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this was incredibly fast. She was arrested when she voluntarily went. I mean, she went for her annual check-in. She was arrested, and she was deported the next day.
AARÓN RAYOS: Yes, that’s what they did to my wife. I mean, this is—this is just like shock for me. You know, it’s shocking, because, like, I mean, it is—I mean, yeah, I have no words for it. It’s just unbelievable.
AMY GOODMAN: Francisca—
AARÓN RAYOS: It was—she was just—sorry, go ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: Francisca Porchas—I wanted to ask Francisca. You live-streamed this whole thing, but you work on these issues every day with Puente Arizona. Explain what were the grounds on which she was taken, after being here for 21 years.
FRANCISCA PORCHAS: She has a felony conviction. She is—like she said in her interview, she’s a victim of Arpaio. Arpaio, for a very long time, terrorized our folks, like as you know. And he colluded with a very racist county prosecutor, a county attorney here, Bill Montgomery, who decided to give felonies—felony 4, 5, 6—to some of these folks caught up in a workplace raids. He did 700 raids—he deported almost 700 people, did 90—almost 90 raids. And so, she is technically priority, because she is a felony conviction. President Obama had stated that it was a felons over families type thing, which we disagreed with. And so, it’s a very well-oiled machine that President Obama built and now Trump is operating at 100 miles an hour.
AMY GOODMAN: So, can you explain what happened when she was arrested years ago? What was it? Like eight or seven years ago. What was she arrested for at work? It was a workplace raid.
FRANCISCA PORCHAS: Yeah, so, Arpaio went to the place where she worked, and picked up a lot of people because they were working without proper documentation. She wasn’t actually physically there, but he demanded all the paperwork of a lot of the people that were working there without papers. So, it was actually a house raid. She was picked up for working without documentation. They showed up at her house very early in the morning and took her. And it was very traumatizing for the entire family. And so she spent a few months in detention and fought to be able to stay in this country.
The case remained open, as many people whose cases are open right now who—or some people, they have closed cases, who are going to be reopened. And so, ICE asked her to come back every single year to check in, just so that she wouldn’t be—she wasn’t—show that she wasn’t fleeing. And so, when she shows up this year, which is the eighth year, she was told that she could no longer go out on her own recognizance and continue to check in, and she was going to be apprehended and going to be put on deportation proceedings.
And so we did a lot of work advocating for her on the outside. We also reached out to Senator McCain, congressional leaders, the mayor of her city. They all reached out. So even the tactics that I think have worked under President Obama before, with some pressure from both Republicans and Democrats, didn’t work for her, even though she’s like one of the most, quote-unquote, “sympathetic” immigrant cases.
AMY GOODMAN: So, can you describe what you filmed, what you live-streamed, the protest? And what happened to the protesters who attempted to stop the van she was in?
FRANCISCA PORCHAS: We knew that they were going to take her out. They had taken all day to actually give us any answers. And when they apprehended her, we knew that they were going to attempt to take her out, because that’s a processing center. It’s not a jail. She couldn’t spend the night. And so, we sort of were waiting on every door to see what—when she was leaving, if they were going to try to leave.
And so, they closed the office, and around 8:00 p.m. is when we saw a bus try to come out of the front doors of ICE. And because we know—we know ICE, and we’ve been doing this for a long time, we knew it was a decoy. We knew that that wasn’t actually the bus that she was going to be coming out of, and it was a distraction. Nonetheless, her children and a lot of folks sat down to block that bus. But we knew that it was probably the other door, so many, many people rushed to the back door, where a van was leaving, trying to rush out. And so folks immediately put their bodies in front of that van and in the back of the van, so it wouldn’t back up, and started chanting. And we could see—we started, you know, flashing lights inside of the van and realized that she was in there, in the back of the van, and so chanted, rallied around it, around her.
And I think, more than anything, we wanted to ensure, through the live-streaming, that we were able to get this message out. Right now, we need people to rise up across the country. We saw a beautiful manifestation of this across airports a couple weeks ago. And now is when our people, the people that are considered undeserving, the people that have felony convictions, any type of criminal record, are going to be sought after, whether they’re checked in, whether in their homes or on the streets. And so, more than anything, we wanted to get it out to the general public. And then we saw yesterday in L.A. people rise up, and we hope that people do this across the country.
AMY GOODMAN: Aarón Rayos, your wife left Mexico when she was 14 years old. How old are your two children now?
AARÓN RAYOS: My son Angel is 16, and my daughter Jacqueline is 14.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the effect on you and the effect on them?
AARÓN RAYOS: Well, first, first off, like Francisca mentioned, we were victims of Arpaio, you know, back in 2008. It is kind of sad to see my son, when—back in 2008, this was December 16, when Arpaio’s officers went to my house. I wasn’t there. But it was kind of sad to—that my son, when he was—he was around eight, eight years old, he saw how his mom was taken away from him, handcuffed. Now, that’s traumatizing for a kid that is eight years old who doesn’t know what is going on. Why is police going into their house and took their mom away? And, I mean, it is really—it is really frustrating. I mean, we’ve been suffering a lot, and now we’re suffering for Trump. I mean, now we’re victims of Trump. And it is really traumatizing for our kids. We think about our kids. We don’t think just about ourselves. We think about our kids and all that it’s affecting, you know? They’re not going to have any trust in police now, you know, because of what is going on right now with police officers, with the sheriff, with ICE. There is not going to be any trust. They’re creating fear on our teenagers.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go out with the—your children’s voices, who are now with your wife, Guadalupe García’s teenage daughter and son reacting to the deportation of their mother.
JACQUELINE GARCÍA DE RAYOS: I’m going to keep on fighting. I’m going to keep on fighting for my mom and for the other families that are going through the same thing, because this is unfair, and it’s really sad.
ANGEL GARCÍA DE RAYOS: We want her back, back in our arms. We want her back over here where she belongs. She belongs with us. And we’re going to keep on fighting. We’re not going to stop.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Jacqueline and Angel García talking about their mother and her deportation. I want to thank you both for being with us. Francisca Porchas of Puente Arizona and Aarón Rayos, husband of Guadalupe García de Rayos. After 21 years, she was just deported to Mexico.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a Bowling Green massacre? Well, not the one Kellyanne Conway talked about, but what about another one? Stay with us.