By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona mother of two who lived in the United States for more than 20 years was deported to Mexico on Thursday, becoming one of the first to be swept up in the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants in the United States, her attorney and family said.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, was taken to Nogales, Mexico, on Thursday morning by U.S. immigration staff, her attorney Ray Ybarra-Maldonado told a news conference. Both of her American-born children and her husband remained in the United States.
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Her detention sparked a protest on Wednesday outside a Phoenix Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office during which seven demonstrators were arrested.
Garcia de Rayos, who came to the United States at age 14 and was living in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, had been allowed to remain under the Obama administration’s policy despite a 2013 arrest by immigration officials, her attorney said.
ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe confirmed in an email that Garcia de Rayos was deported to Mexico.
"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," Pitts O'Keefe said.
"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.," she said.
Pitts O'Keefe declined to give details of the arrest, but Garcia de Rayos' attorney said she was arrested in 2008 as part of a workplace raid at a Mesa water park and accused of identity theft.
Garcia de Rayos was required to check-in annually with officials and was taken into custody on Wednesday after her regular check-in.
Her attorney and family decried the action.
“What have we come to as a society when we allow our government to rip a mother away from her two children?” Ybarra-Maldonado said at the news conference outside the ICE office.
Her teenage daughter, Jacqueline, vowed to continue efforts to bring her mother back to the United States.
“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,” she said.
President Donald Trump's administration has directed immigration officials to end the practice known as "catch and release" and deport all illegal immigrants, even if they have not committed serious crimes or pose any danger.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Ben Klayman, Toni Reinhold)