PHOENIX (CBSMiami/AP) – Protesters banded together Wednesday night to block an Immigration and Customs Enforcement van carrying away an Arizona woman.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a 36-year-old mother of two living in Arizona illegally, was reportedly convicted of a felony in 2008 for using a fake social security number. She served sixth months in an ICE detention facility.
In 2013, a judge reportedly ruled she had no legal standing to remain in the country.
However, on an appeal, she was allowed to stay with regular check-ins.
But when she showed up at the immigration office Wednesday, she was taken into custody.
Under former President Barack Obama, nearly 3 million people were deported, but minor offenders like Garcia de Rayos were given a pass.
Recent executive orders by President Donald Trump broadened the definition of a “criminal alien” to include undocumented immigrants charged with any crime.
The family and supporters of Garcia de Rayos say her arrest is a direct result of the president’s crackdown.
Her two U.S. born children, including 16-year-old son Angel, say they’re heartbroken.
“No one should ever have to be separated from their mother,” he said. “My mom is my everything, she is always there for me. No one should have to go through this.”
ICE officials say that Garcia de Rayos is being deported because of a 2013 court order.
Garcia de Rayos’ lawyer says her original arrest from 2008 took place during a workplace raid they argue was unconstitutional, and therefore she should be allowed to stay in the country.
Fearing the 36-year-old woman’s return to Mexico, dozens of immigration activists blocked the gates surrounding the office near central Phoenix in what the Arizona Republic said was an effort to stop several vans and a bus from leaving.
The protesters said Garcia de Rayos was in one of the vehicles, which were used to transport people in ICE custody to detention centers, or to Arizona’s border with Mexico for deportation. A Republic photo identified a woman looking through one of the vehicle windows covered by security screening as Garcia de Rayos.
Police, meanwhile, took positions around the building and confronted some of the demonstrators, many who chanted “Justice!”
Police posted on Twitter that they arrested about seven protesters, but added that the demonstration was mainly peaceful.
“Besides the few people engaged in criminal acts, most people out here are peaceful and exercising their rights properly,” police said. “Everyone remains safe so far. Hoping for continued cooperation and no more criminal conduct.”
By 1 a.m. Thursday, less than two dozen protesters stood in the dark outside the building talking quietly, with just a handful of police looking on.
The protesters said they initially succeeded in stopping the vehicles from leaving, but said they later left the grounds by another exit. They didn’t know if Garcia de Rayos had still been aboard.
Puente Arizona, an immigrant advocacy group, said Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. as a 14-year-old and now has two children. She was arrested on Wednesday while reporting to ICE, an annual requirement.
Her status with the agency wasn’t immediately clear late Wednesday. The Republic carried a statement from ICE officials, which said only that she was detained because of her prior conviction.
(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)