US & Canada

Mexican woman deported from the US despite protests

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Media captionJaqueline, daughter of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos: "No-one should be packing their mother's suitcase"

A Mexican woman who lived illegally in the US from the age of 14 has been deported back to her home country.

Seven protesters were arrested as they tried to block the vehicle taking her away from the immigration office in Phoenix, Arizona, where she was held.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, has two children born in the US.

President Donald Trump has promised to crack down on illegal immigrants with criminal records. Garcia de Rayos used forged documents to get a job.

Her husband and two teenage children remain in the US.

She pleaded guilty in 2009. In 2013 she was arrested and issued with a deportation order but was allowed to remain under President Barack Obama's policy of leniency towards undocumented migrants who had entered the US as children.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Garcia de Rayos is now back in Mexico

'Really heart-dropping'

She was taken into custody on Wednesday when she went for her annual check-in with immigration officials.

At 10:00 local time on Thursday, she crossed the southern border from Nogales, Arizona.

"Seeing my mom in that van... it was unexplainable," her daughter Jaqueline, 14, said during a press conference after the deportation was announced.

"It was really heart-dropping. No-one should ever go through the pain of having their mom taken away from them, or the pain of packing her suitcase."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Police were out in force as protesters managed to block the entry to the immigration centre for several hours on Wednesday evening

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Garcia de Rayos was detained a few days after Donald Trump signed an executive order broadening the regulations covering deportation.

It stipulates that any undocumented immigrants convicted of a criminal offence get priority for deportation.

The deported woman's lawyer, Ray A Ybarra Maldonado, told the New York Times that a "war on immigrants" had begun.

However, the Obama administration also cracked down on undocumented immigrants, deporting more than 2.5 million people between 2009 and 2015.

An estimated 11 million immigrants were living in the US illegally as of 2014.

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Media captionIn 2014 the BBC travelled to California and Tijuana, Mexico, to report on US deportees' grim prospects

A spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told the BBC Garcia de Rayos had had no legal basis to remain in the US.

"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," Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe added.

Image copyright AP
Image caption One protester locked himself to a van believed to be carrying Ms de Rayos

Dozens of activists gathered outside the centre in a bid to block vehicles from leaving, many of them chanting "justice".

Police said seven people had been arrested "without force" but that most of the protesters were "peaceful and exercising their rights properly".

Mr Trump's far-reaching executive orders have also suspended refugee resettlement and blocked individuals from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the US.

The travel ban was temporarily halted by a court last week.