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Yesterday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deported a 35-year-old Mexican mother. She had been in the U.S. illegally for 21 years but had never faced deportation before. The Mexican government says her case illustrates a, quote, "new reality" for Mexicans in the U.S. NPR's Adrian Florido reports.
ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: In 2008, ICE agents arrested Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos when they raided the Phoenix water park where she worked. She got a felony conviction for using a fake Social Security number to get the job, but she wasn't deported. Since then, she's had to check in regularly with immigration agents. Each time, they let her go because she was not a priority for deportation.
On Wednesday, Garcia showed up for a check-in surrounded by family and supporters. They feared this time might be different. They were right. When Garcia came out, it was in a government van headed for the border.
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UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Free Garcia.
FLORIDO: Ray Ybarra Maldonado is her attorney.
RAY YBARRA MALDONADO: I think this is a direct result of the new executive orders that are being put into action - President Trump calling them enhancing public safety, which really appears only to be attacking immigrant communities and attacking people of color.
FLORIDO: Immigrant advocates in Phoenix say they expect more of this. Immigrants who were not previously a priority for deportation may now be. Marisa Franco is with the advocacy group Mijente.
MARISA FRANCO: The battle lines have been drawn. We know that this case will be replicated in many places across the country, and we think it's critically important for communities to take a stand.
FLORIDO: Under President Obama, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency prioritized deporting serious criminals and recently arrived immigrants. Saying he needed to protect national security and public safety, President Trump's executive order prioritizes those convicted of or charged with any criminal offense, even those who could be charged.
RANDY CAPPS: There is a misdemeanor charge for anyone who's crossed the border illegally.
FLORIDO: Randy Capps is with the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute.
CAPPS: So certainly the scope of the executive order, if interpreted broadly, would be large enough to encompass most, if not all, the unauthorized immigrant population.
FLORIDO: He says that in comparison, by the end of the Obama administration, only about 8 percent of the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally were considered priorities for deportation. An ICE spokeswoman did not answer questions about whether the president's executive order led to what Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos' deportation. In an email, she said the agency will continue to focus on people with felony convictions who have a final deportation order.
On Thursday, Garcia de Rayos' husband, Aron Rosas, spoke outside the ICE office in Phoenix, standing next to the couple's two U.S.-born children.
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ARON ROSAS: (Speaking Spanish).
FLORIDO: "My wife could have sought sanctuary, but she decided to keep her appointment with ICE like a good citizen," Rosas said.
Ray Ybarra, Garcia's attorney, said he is going to start advising his clients who have appointments to instead look for a church willing to give them sanctuary.
MALDONADO: That's got to be the advice, you know? It's no fun walking someone to the slaughter.
FLORIDO: Other advocates say this case is already having a chilling effect on other immigrants and anticipate that many will go into hiding. Adrian Florido, NPR News.
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