Deportee's children: We want Trump to see we're not afraid

Deportee's children: We want Trump to see we're not afraid
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

When President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE addresses a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, the two American-born children of a deported woman will be sitting in the House visitors' gallery.

Their mother, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, was sent to Mexico earlier this month, one of the first people removed from the U.S. under Trump’s enhanced immigration enforcement policies.

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On Tuesday night, 16-year-old Angel Rayos-Garcia and 14-year-old Jacqueline Rayos-Garcia will be in the same room as the president, attending his address as guests of Arizona Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego.

"I want [Trump] to see we’re not afraid," Angel told The Hill.

“This evening, President Trump will stand before Congress and try to justify his scapegoating of immigrants. He will try to paint the entire immigrant community with a wide brush of bigotry, using insults to demonize hardworking people like Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos," Gallego said.

"I will be standing proudly with Angel and Jacqueline to remind Trump that Hispanic leaders won’t back down in the face of his crusade of hate.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos on Feb. 8, when she voluntarily presented herself for a yearly inspection due to her undocumented status.

It was the 36-year-old’s eighth yearly review with ICE, but in the wake of Trump's executive orders on immigration, she walked in knowing she was taking a risk.

"It made me really sad at first, but she told me everything was gonna be alright," Angel said.

Garcia de Rayos was taken into custody and deported to Mexico one day later.

Under Trump's plan, the definition of a criminal alien was greatly expanded, making many foreign citizens in the United States priority targets for deportation.

Trump is " not just separating the criminals like he says," Jacqueline charged. "He just wants to separate families, he wants to divide us."

Garcia de Rayos, who was convicted of using a fake Social Security number to work, received final deportation orders after her conviction. But authorities in the Obama administration had deferred her removal because she was not considered a risk.

After Garcia de Rayos' deportation, Angel and Jacqueline were thrust into the spotlight as activists for family unity in the face of enhanced immigration enforcement.

"Jacqueline and Angel Rayos-Garcia are the definition of courage," Grijalva said. "In the three weeks since their mother was deported by the new administration, they’ve become the public face for thousands of others living in fear and suffering under Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies."

Angel said his faith — the family is devoutly Catholic — gave him strength to fight to get his mother back.

"I asked God to give me the strength and the positivity, and he has," Angel said.

Angel and Jacqueline are American citizens, unlike their parents and others in their community, so they don't fear deportation. But a lifetime of hiding from immigration agents has brewed distrust for law enforcement.

"Since I was little I never trusted them," Jacqueline said of the police. "I didn’t think they were safe."

"There needs to be safety in our environment," she added. "There’s someone that you should trust and you know can help you if you’re in a dangerous situation."

Angel said the situation had worsened under Trump.

"Nowadays you don’t know who’s good and who’s bad," he said. "I am a citizen and I shouldn’t be afraid."

Although Jacqueline is a high school freshman and Angel a sophomore, they see their role as community activists as an opportunity.

"I didn’t expect this at all,” Angel said. "We knew the risk, but I didn’t picture it like this, not to the point where I’m in D.C. like I am right now.

“I’m really thankful for this."

Their father is also undocumented, but they said they don't think he will be persecuted because of his clean record and the publicity that now surrounds their family.

"I don’t think they would be that dumb to target my dad because of all of the attention we already have," Angel said.

He said the trip to Washington and the help his family has received from lawmakers and activists has inspired him.

"Seeing all these congressmen and how they’re helping out, it inspired me," said Angel. "I could become a congressman."

"We have to unite and fight together, because we need change in this country," Jacqueline added.

But Angel and Jacqueline said their first goal is to reunite with their mother.

"It’s hard having to deal with your mom being so far away," said Angel.