Here's What It's Like to Be 14 Years Old & See Your Mom Deported


AZCentral/Twitter

Jackie Rayos-Garcia, a 14-year-old girl from Mesa, Arizona, doesn't know when she will be permanently reunited with her mother Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos (who goes by Lupita) again. The two were separated when on Wednesday, after her annual meeting with immigration authorities, Lupita was detained and, later, deported to Mexico. This heartbreaking series of events is exactly what so many fear will become commonplace under the Trump administration. 

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Yesterday morning, Jackie packed up her mom's belongings in a suitcase that she would take with her to Nogales, a border city in the Mexican state of Sonora. "No one should ever have to go through what we're going through," Jackie, a US citizen, told Teen Vogue.

This is actually the second time that Jackie and her family have had to go through being separated from Lupita. Lupita had come to the US when she herself was only 14, in 1996. In 2008, when Jackie was 6 years old, Lupita was picked up in an immigration raid and caught using a fake Social Security number. "You think it's bad people who go to jail, but [my mom] wasn't a bad person," said Jackie.

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And yet, authorities jailed Lupita for six whole months. Jackie had her grandmother and father to help her with her hair and to cook meals for her, but obviously she missed her mother. Making matters even more heartbreaking, the raid was right before Christmas.

Eventually, the grassroots group Puente Movement, which brings together immigrant families, attorneys, and allies, was able to help get Lupita released, and she returned home.

But the terms of Lupita's release stated that she would have to check in with immigration officials once a year. Fast-forward to her annual meeting this year, mere days after Trump's inauguration. One of the many new executive orders signed by the new POTUS states that undocumented immigrants convicted of any criminal offense (even those who have not been charged but are believed to have committed "acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense") should be deported, as a priority. With the new order in effect, Lupita was told by Carlos Garcia, the executive director of Puente, that she could skip her meeting and go into hiding or seek refuge at a church in North Phoenix, according to the New York Times. But Lupita decided to take her chances, and she ended up being deported. 

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Here's footage of protesters, including Jackie, blocking the van that carried Lupita away from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building.

Yesterday, in the wake of Lupita's deportation, the family spoke in front of the ICE building. "Seeing my mom in that van, it was unexplainable, it was really heart-stopping," Jackie said during the press conference. "My mom is a really kind person. She would never hurt anyone. Everyone loves her. She treats everyone as if they're family. She has a really big heart, and I think it's unfair that they just took her away, because she was working in order to support us. No one should ever go through the pain of having their mom taken away from them. Or the pain of packing her suitcase .... And I'm here, and I'm going to keep on fighting."

Here's a clip of Jackie speaking to the press, courtesy of CNN.

 

This morning, Jackie and her brother Angel were reunited with Lupita in Mexico and spoke out about what's next for the family. AZCentral.com tweeted this video of the family:

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It's amazing how, in the face of what some may see as an uphill battle, Jackie has so much faith and determination. "When I see my mom, the first thing I'm going to do is hug her and tell her I love her," Jackie had told Teen Vogue. "I fully expect to get her back home. It's just a matter of time."

Hopefully, Jackie also knows that she and her family have many Americans on her side, supporting their fight every step of the way.

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