'I miss my children': A year later, one of first immigrants deported by Trump struggles in Mexico

Last February, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, an Arizona mom of two U.S. citizens, became one of the first undocumented immigrants to be taken into custody following Donald Trump signing a series of executive orders that effectively unleashed his Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mass deportation force. In a last-ditch effort, the nation watched as her supporters formed a ring around a convoy of vans that were exiting an ICE facility in Phoenix. Inside one of those vans was Garcia de Rayos. Her two children, at times weeping, were outside.

But the community demonstrations failed, and ICE deported Garcia de Rayos to a nation she had not called home for decades. Since arriving in Mexico, Garcia de Rayos opened a small tortilla shop using donations she received following the international publicity of the case. But with little income coming in due to surrounding competition, she can’t repair the modern but expensive machinery that has broken down since. Above all, she misses her children

After she was deported, Garcia de Rayos was reunited with her family members, many of whom she had not seen in years, including her mother and father, a sister and brother. Some she had never met, including her three nieces, who were born after she left Mexico for the United States 21 years earlier.

Being surrounded by their love helps her get through the pain of being separated from her husband and children.

She also tries to keep busy. Besides running the tortilla shop, she helps out at a stand selling cups of sliced fruit her sister and mother run in the center of town, across from the massive Catholic cathedral that anchors the town plaza.

But when darkness falls, she dreads returning to her bedroom alone.

“It is very difficult, even though I am pretty happy to be with my family here,” she says. “But once nighttime comes, I miss my children dearly.”

She points at a bed on the other side of the room, below a poster of Jesus, blond and blue-eyed, raising his hand as if giving a blessing.

“That is where my children sleep when they visit,” she says.

“At night she is tormented by the hard choices the family must face: Should her husband and American children come live with her in Mexico? Or should they stay in the United States, separated perhaps forever, clinging to hope that she may one day be allowed to legally return?” For now, Garcia de Rayos’s children,17-year-old Angel and 15-year-old Jackie, stay here and visit her during school breaks. But they shouldn’t have to move to be with their mom, because this is their country. This was Garcia de Rayos’s country, too, until the day a man who said he’d target so-called “bad hombres” was sworn into office and instead targeted a mom who just trying to work hard and provide for her kids.

Mattis: Military Dreamers won't be deported. Unless they are.

Dreamers serving in the military or who have served honorably will not be deported, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday. He’s spoken to the head of Homeland Security, it’s not going to happen. Unless …

There are only two exceptions in which someone could be deported, Mattis noted: if he or she committed a serious felony, or if a federal judge signed a final order of deportation.

Okay, fine a serious felony … or if a federal judge signed an order. So, in other words, people won’t be deported without some form of due process, like ICE won’t just grab them off the streets and hurl them over Trump’s border wall without asking a judge, but deportation is not off the table. 

Military and veteran Dreamers can doubtless take some comfort in Mattis’s insistence that “We would always stand by one of our people,” but it doesn’t sound like he’s the last word here.

'I miss my wife, the kids, I miss Youngstown': Ohio dad deported to 'land he barely knows'

Family reunions should be joyous occasions. A son seeing his mother for the first time in decades should be a joyous occasion. Reunions should be by choice. But for Amer “Al” Adi Othman, his reunion was bittersweet, at best. The Ohio dad, husband and businessman was the center of a deportation case that earned national attention for Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) senselessness and cruelty. Despite the support of his community and a rare legislative move from Congressman Tim Ryan that should have halted his immediate deportation, Othman was kicked out after decades in the U.S. and no criminal record. ICE officials barely gave him time to say good-bye to his family over the phone:

With nothing but the clothes on his back and less than $300 in his pocket, Amer Adi was put on a plane and deported to Jordan, the country he left 39 years ago to pursue his American dream.

His 94-year-old mother sat in a wheelchair at the arrivals gate, overcome with emotion as she waited for Adi. She hadn’t seen him in 20 years.

As he walked out, his siblings, nephews and nieces broke out in cheers. But they were soon in tears.

Adi fell to his knees, a broken man in his mother’s arms.

“I have mixed feelings, very mixed feelings. I’m so happy, so glad to be here, my home, to see my mother, my brother, my family, my friends, that makes me proud and happy,” Adi told CNN at the airport.

“At the same time, I feel so sad of what happened to me,” he continued. “I’m so sorry to tell you what happened is unjust, not right, and everyone back there knows that. What the Trump administration is doing is—you can’t even explain it.” But the truth is that Trump’s mass deportation force is set on an ethnic cleansing that is picking up as many families as possible without regard to how long they’ve been here, how many U.S. citizen kids they have, and how much of the American dream they’ve achieved their own grit and sweat. Othman, the owner of Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli and Circle Hookah and Bar in Youngstown, was hailed as a “pillar of the community.”

A Lawyer Conducted A Presidential Swearing-In Ceremony For An Opposition Leader. One Week Later, He Was Deported.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga (center) after taking a symbolic oath of office at the end of January, supported by Miguna Miguna (left).

Baz Ratner / Reuters

NAIROBI — The lawyer who officiated the unofficial swearing-in of Kenya’s opposition leader was deported to Canada late Tuesday night, raising serious questions about the constitutionality of his departure, given that he is a Kenyan citizen by birth.

Miguna Miguna was arrested in his home on Feb. 2, and charged with treason when he appeared in court four days later.

According to local reports, the attorney was transported from a Nairobi police station to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Tuesday night, and forced to board a midnight flight to Canada.

Just days earlier he had facilitated Raila Odinga’s oath to become the “People’s President of Kenya.”

The controversial symbolic inauguration came three months after President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the 2017 elections, bringing what many hoped would be an end to a long, hotly contested period in which the Supreme Court of Kenya annulled the initial Aug. 8 ballot results and ordered a fresh vote.

Odinga withdrew from the second election, claiming the country's electoral commission had not ensured it would be a fair contest the second time around.

Miguna has citizenship in Canada after obtaining asylum status there in 1988, but Kenyan Interior Ministry spokesperson Mwenda Njoka argued that he renounced his Kenyan citizenship when he acquired his Canadian passport, justifying his removal.

The government’s reasons draw from an older version of Kenya’s constitution, which required people to renounce their citizenship before naturalizing in another country.

The state-run newsroom Nexus tweeted an image of Miguna’s Canadian passport and said that he was “headed home,” adding that the interior ministry “even assisted him with a flight ticket home.” The tweet also pointed out that Miguna had renewed his passport in June 2017.

But Kenyan attorneys say that Miguna’s deportation violated the 2010 Kenyan Constitution.

Oiboo Morintat, a partner attorney at McKay Advocates in Nairobi, told BuzzFeed News over the phone that Kenyan law guarantees citizenship to anyone born in or outside of Kenya to Kenyan parents, and allows for dual citizenship.

“The only way you will lose your citizenship is if you renounce it,” he said.

Several critics of Miguna’s deportation pointed out that he ran for governor of Nairobi last year, which would require him to be a citizen of Kenya.

Miguna addressed the press briefly during a layover in Amsterdam Wednesday afternoon and denied claims that he had renounced his Kenyan citizenship when he received his Canadian passport.

“I have never ever renounced my Kenyan citizenship and will never do that. I’ve never even contemplated it,” he said.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Canada’s Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship for more information.

Morintat added that even if a person is found to be residing in the country illegally, they are still granted by law the right to a due process before being removed.

“If you don’t have the papers to work in Kenya, for example, it is for the courts to determine your deportation,” he said. “If you are in the country, then you enjoy all the rights of innocence until proven guilty. An immigration officer cannot walk into your office and just deport you for being there illegally.”

Odinga supporters protest Miguna being charged with treason earlier this week.

James Keyi / Reuters

Morintat argued that because the government had already violated Miguna’s rights by holding him in custody for more than 24 hours without access to his attorneys, they resorted to deportation since the charges against him would have no longer been valid.

“The moment the government went beyond 24 hours of detention, any charges against him in any court would have been quashed for violation of his constitutional rights,” he said. “No court would have convicted him, even if he had committed treason.”

Kenyan Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga issued a statement Wednesday afternoon condemning the government’s recent disobedience of court orders — which included a media blackout that began during Odinga’s swearing-in and lasted nearly a week — and warning them of the consequences.

“Compliance with court orders is not an option for any individual or institution. Neither is it a favour to be doled out to the Judiciary,” his statement read. “As Chief Justice I want to assure the country that the Judiciary will continue to dispense its constitutional duty with independence and authority.”

Boniface Mwangi, an activist turned politician and presidential candidate in last year’s elections, called President Kenyatta a coward for deporting Miguna, and warned that those whom the president cannot deport, he will kill.

Morintat said that government’s actions on both the media shutdown and Miguna’s deportation have sent a grim message to Kenyans about their freedom.

“The government should be the last to violate its own constitution,” he said. “There’s no law. It’s setting a very dangerous precedent for us as a country.”