Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Why Lupita is Trump’s First Immigrant Victim of His Deportation Machine

Lupita and her family. Photo: Frontera Fund.
Lupita and her family. Photo: Frontera Fund.
Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

For years, Guadalupe García de Rayos (Lupita) checked in with ICE authorities after being convicted of criminal impersonation – a result of Joe Arpaio’s worksite raids. But every time, she was able to come out and reassume her life.

She had used a fake social security number to work and provide for her family. Her information was taken by Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies at Golfland Sunsplash amusement park in Mesa, Arizona. The deputies, acting as immigration agents, took her out of her home in Mesa. Years later, a judge would order Arpaio to stop this practice.

In past occasions, she was able to check in and exit after ICE corroborated that she had good conduct. She was not deported due to enforcement priorities that targeted only violent criminals and not workers. The past administration took into consideration the nature of her nonviolent conviction, her long ties with the community (Guadalupe had arrived in the U.S. at age 14) and the fact that she has two teenage American citizen children.

But on Wednesday, February 8, it was different.

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Activists from Puente and other groups supported Lupita Garcia de Rayos (center, with red sweater) at her check-in with ICE in Phoenix. Photo: Frontera Fund

Under new guidelines signed as executive orders by President Trump, Lupita was detained while several dozen supporters waited in vain, holding a vigil for her release later in the evening.

Later Wednesday night, a van transporting her, possibly to a detention center or to the border, was stopped by Puente activists. Young protestors blocked the van for hours, using their bodies as barriers and locking their arms to the van’s tires, later confronting Phoenix PD with cries of “Shame on you!”

Guadalupe García de Rayos is only 36 years old. She missed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process by four months and is the first known victim of President Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

What are those changes in immigration policy that may affect undocumented immigrants in the U.S.?

The first change is the definition of the range of individuals targeted by the Trump administration for removal. They expanded the definition from “those who have committed violent crimes and felonies” to anyone who has broken the law – regardless of whether that person was convicted or even charged with a crime. Under this new definition, experts say up to 8 million undocumented immigrants are fair game for immigration enforcement agents. The order goes even further, saying that “any person from that category who authorities believe committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” can and should be targeted as well. Immigrants who have not committed violent crimes are now on par with people who have a violent criminal past.

Second, Trump’s order resurrected two controversial programs – Secure Communities and a more aggressive program known as 287(g) – which have proven ineffective and discriminatory.

With Secure Communities, immigration authorities partner with law enforcement agencies in jails to share biometric data between detention facilities and ICE officials.

The 287(g) program permits partnerships between local jails and ICE agents as well. But it goes a step further, allowing local and state law enforcement officers on the street to be deputized as immigration officials. Studies have repeatedly linked implementation of 287(g) to systemic patterns of racial profiling and constitutional rights violations in Latino communities.

The third element of the Trump anti-immigrant plan is the elimination of sanctuary cities. Under the executive order, cities that refuse to comply with the administration’s enforcement directives will be cut off from federal grants.

Lupita was deported on Thursday morning.

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Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos’ supporters on Wednesday morning. Photo: Frontera Fund