By ASTRID GALVAN and JACQUES BILLEAUD
PHOENIX (AP) - An immigrant mother in Phoenix granted leniency during the Obama administration was deported to Mexico Thursday in what activists said was an early example of how President Donald Trump plans to carry through on his vow to crack down on illegal immigration.
The case of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos became a rallying cry for immigrant groups who believe Trump's approach to immigration will unfairly tear apart countless families.
Her arrest prompted a raucous demonstration in downtown Phoenix late Wednesday as protesters blocked enforcement vans from leaving a U.S. immigration office. Seven people were arrested.
Garcia de Rayos said on Thursday evening that she didn't regret her decision to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement despite knowing she'd risk getting arrested.
Garcia de Rayos spoke from the Kino Border Initiative, a soup kitchen and shelter in Nogales, Mexico, where many migrants go after being deported. Her U.S.-citizen children were by her side, their first time in Mexico, their mother said.
"I'm doing this for my kids so they have a better life. I will keep fighting so they can keep studying in their home country," she said. "We're a united family. We're a family who goes to church on Sundays, we work in advocacy. We're active."
Garcia de Rayos was deported around 10 a.m. from a Nogales border crossing and ICE worked with Mexican consular officials to repatriate her, agency spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe said in a statement. She said her case underwent a thorough review that determined the 35-year-old mother of two children with U.S. citizenship had no "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," Pitts O'Keefe said.
Read the entire piece. http://www.nbc-2.com/story/34462698/several-arrested-as-deportation-fear-prompts-phoenix-protest
The Mexican government said in a statement on Thursday that Garcia de Rayos' deportation is the "new reality" immigrants face in the United States.
Mexico's foreign relations department said that her removal is an example of more severe immigration enforcement.
Officials warned other Mexicans in the U.S. to be cautious, aware of their rights and to stay in contact with their local consulate.
She came to the U.S. from the Mexican state of Guanajuato when she was 14 and has two children who are U.S. citizens, said the Puente Arizona immigrant advocacy group based in Phoenix.
Associated Press writers Paul Davenport and Bob Seavey in Phoenix contributed to this report.