Mexico warned its citizens living in the United States on Friday to “take precautions” and remain in contact with consular officials a day after the deportation of an undocumented mother following a routine visit with US immigration authorities.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 35, was deported Thursday after she checked in with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix a day earlier. The action sparked protests by supporters of Garcia de Rayos and drew praise from proponents of stricter enforcement of immigration laws.
“The case involving Mrs. Garcia de Rayos illustrates a new reality for the Mexican community living in the United States, facing the most severe implementation of immigration control measures,” Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.
Mexican consulates “have intensified their work of protecting fellow nationals, foreseeing more severe immigration measures to be implemented by the authorities of this country, and possible violations to constitutional precepts during such operations and problems with due process,” the statement said.
On Wednesday, Garcia de Rayos made her eighth visit to the immigration office since her 2008 arrest and conviction for using a fake Social Security number.
After each previous meeting, the married mother of two was released and went back to her family, but this week she was detained and deported within 24 hours to her native Mexico. Her attorney said the deportation was a direct result of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
US immigration officials said there was nothing special about her case — she committed a crime and her deportation order was enforced.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry statement said, “It is important that fellow nationals familiarize themselves with the different scenarios they might encounter and know where they can go to receive new information and know all their rights.”
The statement said consular officials from Nogales, Arizona, were present when Garcia de Rayos was deported back to Mexico on Thursday to ensure it was done in a “dignified and safe” manner.
It remains to be seen whether similar deportations are taking place in other states.
Activists have said that some unauthorized immigrants, fearing deportation, may skip routine check-ins with US immigrations authorities.
In the Texas capital, City Councilman Greg Casar said children in Austin “have not come to school” and “families … have locked themselves into their apartments” during the last 24 hours because of ICE enforcement actions, according to CNN affiliate KEYE-TV.
Mexicans made up 52% of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014, but their numbers have declined in recent years, according to the Pew Research Center.
The center estimates 5.8 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico were living in the United States in 2014, down from 6.4 million in 2009.
One undocumented immigrant, Juan Miguel Cornejo, said he faces an immigration hearing in April to determine whether he can remain in the United States, where he has lived with his wife and two children for nearly 17 years ago.
Cornego, who said he considers himself a political refugee because of his criticism of Mexico’s government, told CNN he has returned to this country after being deported a number of times. If he is ordered to leave the country in April, he said, he will move with his family to Canada.
“I am not a criminal or a terrorist,” he said during a Phoenix demonstration Thursday night in support of Garcia de Rayos.
“The only terrorists are the people who pass laws against working people, against the people who lay the brick in the construction of their homes, the people who harvest the food on their tables.”