Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

During the presidential campaign, when Trump shifted from “deport ’em all” to saying he would focus on deporting undocumented immigrants who were criminals, it was considered a major shift.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” [Trump] said in the interview, to air on “60 Minutes” on CBS.

But as the LA Times recently reported, the devil is in the details. The president’s executive order overhauling immigration enforcement took that number from 2-3 million to a possible 8 million (of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country).

We now have an example of what that means in the case of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. She was brought to this country when she was 14, has lived in Arizona for 22 years and is the mother of two children who were born here. But Garcia is a “criminal” because 8 years ago she was caught in a workplace raid by former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and charged with a felony. She was eventually allowed to stay in the country under certain conditions. Since then, she has checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office regularly for a review of her case and to answer some questions. That all changed yesterday.

This year, as García de Rayos feared, was different. When she went to check in as usual at the central Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she was taken into custody as protests erupted outside. García de Rayos could perhaps be among the first undocumented immigrants to be arrested during a scheduled meeting with immigration officials since President Trump’s inauguration, civil rights lawyers told the New York Times.

It is likely that by this time, she has been processed and sent to Mexico – a country she hasn’t seen in over two decades – leaving behind her children and family. According to her lawyer, there is only one reason for that.

“It has 100 percent to do with the executive order,” said Ray Ybarra-Maldonado, a Phoenix immigration lawyer who is representing Garcia de Rayos. “Her case is no different than the last time she checked in. The facts are 100 percent the same. The only difference is the priorities for removal have now changed.”

To the extent that this is how the Trump administration plans to handle these cases, it sends a clear message to undocumented immigrants that it is dangerous to cooperate with law enforcement. That is a price that will be paid by all of us. For Garcia de Rayos and her children, the price is the break-up of their family.

As a sign that this is the beginning of a larger plan, Ryan Devereaux reports that Trump’s executive order overhauling immigration enforcement contains plans for building new detention centers.

Trump’s order on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” resurrects some of the most controversial immigration enforcement programs of recent years, seeks to deputize state and local law enforcement as immigration officials across the country, and threatens major cuts to federal funding for cities that fail to fall in line with the administration’s vision.

In order to address the massive strain the plan would place on the nation’s already overburdened immigration system, Trump has called for the construction of new immigrant detention facilities along the U.S. border with Mexico — including through private contracts — as quickly as possible.

Perhaps we are witnessing the first steps in something closer to Trump’s original promise to “deport ’em all.” That is a painful reminder of the quote from Maya Angelou that Clinton used during the campaign: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.