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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Making America Great Again, one pointlessly cruel act at a time

by digby

Real Americans protecting our way of life

And so it begins:
For eight years, Guadalupe García de Rayos had checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office here, a requirement since she was caught using a fake Social Security number during a raid in 2008 at a water park where she worked.

Every year since then, she has walked in and out of the meetings after a brief review of her case and some questions.

But not this year.

On Wednesday, immigration agents arrested Ms. Rayos, 35, and began procedures to send her back to Mexico, a country she has not seen since she left it 21 years ago.

As a van carrying Ms. Rayos left the ICE building, protesters were waiting. They surrounded it, chanting, “Liberation, not deportation.” Her daughter, Jacqueline, joined in, holding a sign that read, “Not one more deportation.” One man, Manuel Saldana, tied himself to one of the van’s front wheels and said, “I’m going to stay here as long as it takes.”

Soon, police officers in helmets had surrounded Mr. Saldana. They cut off the ties holding him to the tire and rounded up at least six others who were blocking the front and back of the van, arresting them all. The driver quickly put the van in reverse and rolled back into the building.

Ms. Rayos was one of several detainees inside the van. It was unclear whether officials planned to take them to Mexico or to detention.

By midnight on Thursday, her husband said he was not sure where she was. A vehicle had just left the building under police escort, and he said he suspected she may have been inside.

Ms. Rayos was arrested just days after the Trump administration broadened the definition of “criminal alien,” a move that immigrants’ rights advocates say could easily apply to a majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

“We’re living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants,” Ms. Rayos’s lawyer, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, said Wednesday after leaving the building here that houses the federal immigration agency, known by its acronym, ICE.

The Obama administration made a priority of deporting people who were deemed a threat to public or national safety, had ties to criminal gangs, or had committed serious felony offenses or a series of misdemeanor crimes. Ms. Rayos did not fit any of these criteria, which is why she was allowed to stay in the United States even after a judge issued a deportation order against her in 2013.

That all changed under Mr. Trump. Among the 18 executive orders that he has issued since taking office on Jan. 20 is one stipulating that undocumented immigrants convicted of any criminal offense — and even those who have not been charged but are believed to have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” — have become a priority for deportation.


Lawyers from two of the nation’s leading civil rights’ groups said Ms. Rayos might be the first undocumented immigrant to be arrested during a scheduled meeting with immigration officials since Mr. Trump took office. Thousands of others run a similar risk when they report for their regular immigration checks, in large part because federal agents are now free to decide who is and is not a threat to public safety, those advocates said.

“That is precisely what the alarming problem is with Trump’s internal enforcement order,” Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an interview on Wednesday. Mr. Trump, she said, “took the gloves off agents and has permitted these agents to go after immigrants regardless of their ties and contributions to the United States.”

Ms. Rayos was 14 when she left Acambaro, a city in an impoverished corner of the Mexican state of Guanajuato, and sneaked across the border into Nogales, Ariz., a three-hour drive from Phoenix. She married — her husband is also undocumented — and gave birth to a boy and a girl, who are now in their teens.

Before showing up for her appointment with the immigration officials on Wednesday morning, Ms. Rayos and her family attended Mass. Later, as she entered the gates into the ICE building, she stopped for a moment, clasped her hands and bowed her head, as if she was reciting a silent prayer.

“The only crime my mother committed was to go to work to give a better life for her children,” said her daughter, Jacqueline, as Ms. Rayos stood by her side before entering the ICE building with her lawyer.

Ms. Rayos was working at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, when Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies swooped in on Dec. 16, 2008, arresting her and several other employees on charges of suspicion of identity theft and using forged documents to obtain employment. The raid was one of the first ordered by Joe Arpaio, who was sheriff at the time, under an Arizona law authorizing sanctions against employers who knowingly hired undocumented immigrants.

She spent three months in a county jail, followed by three months in immigration detention, she told a reporter. In 2013, an immigration court ordered that she be sent back to Mexico, but her case had been on hold since the federal authorities — under the Obama administration — decided not to act on the deportation order.

Her son, Angel, still remembers the evening of her arrest — the knock on the door, the flashlight on the darkened living room, the sight of handcuffs on his mother’s wrists.

“I was in second grade,” he said. “I never forgot that night, and I’ve lived in fear of losing my mother every night since then.”

I hope all those fine Real Americans are proud of themselves. I hope they feel good about what they've done. Maybe they can go to church this Sunday and thank their God for giving them Donald Trump to Make America Great Again. If their beliefs are true, they will go to hell, but apparently they're just happy for the opportunity to treat someone cruelly and be praised for it, so it's a consequence they'll live with.