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These are the faces of deportations under Trump

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/23/2017 Alan Gomez
Lucio Cervantes, a Mexican citizen who said he lived in the U.S. for 25 years, arrives to the airport after being deported to Mexico City, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. © AP Photo/Marco Ugarte Lucio Cervantes, a Mexican citizen who said he lived in the U.S. for 25 years, arrives to the airport after being deported to Mexico City, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.

Angel Ortiz Paz was warming up his car just before 6 a.m. outside his Gaithersburg, Md., townhouse on a recent morning when federal agents pulled in behind him.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were looking for two other men who were undocumented immigrants in the neighborhood, but they started asking Ortiz about his status. As his wife and two children — all U.S. citizens — were inside the house, Ortiz showed them his Maryland-issued driver's license and his Honduran passport. 

The agents ran a background check on the information and found that Ortiz was also an undocumented immigrant. They saw a 9-year-old DUI conviction on his record and a 16-year-old deportation order by a federal judge shortly after Ortiz illegally crossed the southwest border into the U.S. The agents handcuffed and arrested Ortiz, who is now in federal custody in Louisiana and set to be deported by Friday.

As his attorney scrambles to halt Ortiz's deportation, the construction worker has become the latest face of President Trump's deportation program, which calls for rounding up non-violent undocumented immigrants who would not have been deported under former president Barack Obama's policy.

"When my son watches the news, he says, 'Look, the people who took my papi,'" Ortiz's wife Francis said, referring to their son, Angel, 6. "He is everything to this family. My whole world is missing. Trump has destroyed the lives of many people in my situation."

From the start of his presidential campaign, Trump made clear that he would clamp down on illegal immigration by ramping up deportations. But he and members of his administration repeatedly said they would focus on undocumented immigrants who were hardened criminals — gang members, murderers, rapists or "bad hombres," as Trump described them.

Since Trump took office, however, ICE has made clear that while agents target criminals, they also will round up any other undocumented immigrant they catch along the way. The agency even sent a series of tweets two weeks ago reminding young undocumented immigrants granted deportation protections under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that they also could face deportation.

The result: A growing number of DACA recipients, mothers, fathers and grandparents with no violent crimes in their backgrounds are being deported or face deportation in the two months Trump has been in office.

ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke said Ortiz qualified for a deportation because he was an "immigration fugitive," based on his DUI conviction and the deportation order issued by a judge in 2001. 

Bruce Coane, an immigration attorney who represents Ortiz, said his case shows several changes in deportation priorities. Before Trump took office, he said, Ortiz wouldn't have been questioned or arrested, and prosecutors wouldn't have moved so quickly to deport him.

"Under Obama, there was a concern about tearing families apart," he said. "Everything seems to be very harsh now. The high-profile cases you hear about are just an example of what's going on in the real world. They're definitely becoming more frequent."

Supporters of Trump's expanded use of deportations say the president is following through on his campaign promises to fix an out-of-control situation that has led to 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower levels of immigration, said immigrants like Ortiz have only themselves to blame for violating U.S. immigration laws.

"Sure, it's unfortunate. But he's a grown-up, he created this situation, and he has to bear responsibility," Krikorian said. "Somebody who is not paying his mortgage and gets evicted doesn't get to stay just because he has kids." 

Here is a look at other recent cases:

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos

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Age: 35

Native country: Mexico

U.S. residence: Mesa, Ariz.

Status: Deported

Garcia came to the U.S. as a teenager and spent more than 20 years living in the Phoenix area. She has two children, both U.S. citizens by birth.

She was arrested after a 2008 work-site raid by then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Golfland Sunsplash, an amusement park. Her attorneys said Garcia made up a Social Security number to get a cleaning job at the park, a common practice among undocumented immigrants. But state prosecutors said she used two numbers that belonged to U.S. citizens and got her to sign a plea agreement on a felony charge of criminal impersonation, according to The Arizona Republic.

Garcia served 90 days in a federal detention facility and was set to be deported, but she was allowed to remain in the U.S. on supervised released. She was required to check in at the Phoenix ICE office once a year, which she did for eight years. During her first check-in under the Trump administration, she was detained.

Protesters swarmed the ICE office, but she was deported Feb. 9.

Clarissa Arredondo

Age: 43

Native country: Mexico

U.S. residence: Mira Mesa, Calif.

Status: Deported

Arredondo's family describes her as the backbone of the Southern California family, a mother of three and grandmother to two children who are U.S. citizens. She worked cleaning houses and would often care for her grandchildren, whose father is a Navy veteran now working as a U.S. contractor in Afghanistan, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

But life as she knew it ended on Valentine's Day, when ICE agents arrested her. Arredondo pleaded guilty in 2003 to a charge of felony welfare fraud in a case where she misrepresented her income to obtain food stamps and cash assistance for her children. She was also deported from the country in 2005 when she tried to enter through a port of entry in Southern California, according to the Union-Tribune.

Arredondo's case moved quickly, and she was deported to her native Mexico on March 3 without appearing before a judge. That process is known as an "expedited removal," which allows federal immigration agents to unilaterally deport some undocumented immigrants, a process Trump wants to expand throughout the country. 

Daniel Ramirez Medina

Age: 24

Native country: Mexico

U.S. residence: Des Moines, Wash.

Status: Detained, facing deportation

The father of a child who is a U.S. citizen, Ramirez was twice granted deportation protections under DACA. On Feb. 10, ICE agents raided a home looking for a convicted felon who was facing deportation. The agents questioned Ramirez, concluded that he was a gang member and arrested him.

ICE said Ramirez qualifies as a deportation priority because of his gang affiliations. As proof, the agency pointed to a gang tattoo on his arm, his claims that he fled California's Central Valley to flee gangs there and that he still "hangs out with the Paizas gang in Washington state." In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Ramirez wrote that the tattoo was in homage to his hometown of La Paz, Mexico, and denied that he's ever been part of a gang.

"I am hopeful that I will have a future in this country, but I know that this case is not just about me," he wrote. "Hundreds of thousands of dreamers are questioning just what sort of protection the government’s promise provides."

His attorneys are challenging Ramirez's detention in federal court.

Daniela Vargas

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Age: 22

Native country: Argentina

U.S. residence: Jackson, Miss.

Status: Released from detention

Vargas is a prime example of Obama's program to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Her Argentine family legally entered the U.S. when she was 7, but then stayed past their allowed 90 days. Vargas learned English, went to high school in Mississippi, earned straight A's and played the trumpet in the band. She worked several jobs to pay for college and spoke of wanting to become a math professor or a member of the military.

Then on March 1, she joined a community rally in Jackson to protest Trump's deportation sweeps, which led to the arrest of her father and brother. She spoke at the news conference and left, but the car she was riding in was stopped by ICE agents who told her, "You know what we're here for," according to TheClarion-Ledger. Her case drew nationwide attention as protesters rallied to her defense and lawyers rushed in to block her deportation.

Without explanation, ICE released her 10 days later. Her father and brother remain in ICE custody.

Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco

Age: 38

Native country: Mexico

U.S. residence: West Frankfort, Ill.

Status: Released from detention

For more than a decade, Hernandez ran the popular La Fiesta Mexican restaurant in this southern Illinois town. He participated in a slew of community events, hosted Law Enforcement Appreciation Day last summer and is the father of three children who are U.S. citizens. Yet on Feb. 9, while he stood in his front yard, an ICE agent approached, questioned him and then arrested Hernandez.

Hernandez, who illegally entered the U.S. in the 1990s, has two blemishes on his record: two drunk-driving convictions in 2007. In a statement, an ICE spokesman told The New York Times, "Every day, as part of routine operations, ICE officers target and arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws."

The community responded with a flood of support. The mayor, the county prosecutor, the Rotary Club president and the former postmaster all wrote to an immigration judge urging Hernandez's release, according to the Times

On March 1, the judge agreed to release Hernandez on $3,000 bond after he spent 20 days in a St. Louis detention center. His deportation case is not over, however, and he may be still be deported.

Jose Escobar

Age: 31

Native country: El Salvador

U.S. residence: Houston

Status: Deported

Escobar legally entered the U.S. as a 15-year-old through a humanitarian program known as temporary protected status, which is given to people harmed by disasters abroad. Escobar's family was fleeing the devastating 2001 earthquake that killed nearly 1,000 people in their native El Salvador.

Escobar's mother mistakenly thought she was renewing her son's protected status when she renewed hers, accidentally leaving the teen as an undocumented immigrant. That prompted a federal judge to order his deportation when the family didn't show up for a court hearing in 2006, according to the Houston Chronicle. He spent seven months in federal detention fighting the deportation and won his release after a public campaign, including help from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

Escobar was still required to check in with immigration agents each year, which he did. But when he checked in on Feb. 22, his first time during the Trump administration, he was arrested and deported the next week.

Catalino Guerrero

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Age: 59

Native country: Mexico

U.S. residence: Union City, N.J.

Status: Facing May 22 deportation hearing

Guerrero has lived in the U.S. for more than 25 years, but his time may soon be up.

The New Jersey man, who has four children and four grandchildren, said he tried to become a legal resident, but was given bad advice by a lawyer and applied for political asylum. That request was denied and a judge ordered his deportation in 2009, according to ICE. The Obama administration put off that deportation order for years because of Guerrero's clean criminal record and his long history of working and paying taxes, according to the Daily Record.

That changed suddenly under the Trump administration. Guerrero showed up at his check-in with local ICE officials on March 10 as 100 supporters rallied outside, including Newark Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. "My God, if he can be deported, then we truly are at the verge of mass deportation," Menendez said, according to the Record.

The outpouring worked, for now. ICE officials granted Guerrero a 60-day delay on his deportation case, but he must appear at a May 22 hearing that could end with deportation to his native Mexico. 

Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez

Age: 48

Native country: Mexico

U.S. residence: Los Angeles

Status: Detained

After dropping off his 12-year-old daughter at her Los Angeles school last month, Avelica-Gonzalez drove away and was pulled over by ICE agents in black, unmarked vans. The father of four children who are U.S. citizens has lived in the U.S. for 25 years, but he is now facing deportation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

His arrest just six blocks from his daughter's charter school caused such a panic that administrators held an assembly to calm the students, according to the Times. In the weeks following the arrest, teachers have met with children of undocumented immigrants about creating family plans in case a parent is deported.

Avelica-Gonzalez has two marks on his record: a 2008 conviction on misdemeanor charges of DUI and driving without a license, plus a 1998 conviction for receiving stolen property when he bought a non-DMV-issued vehicle registration tag. ICE told the Times that those convictions led to a deportation order in 2014.

He now remains in federal custody awaiting deportation as his attorneys try to win his release. 

Francisca Lino

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Age: 50

Native country: Mexico

U.S. residence: Romeoville, Ill.

Status: Ordered deported

When Lino illegally crossed the southwest border with Mexico, she headed straight for the suburbs of Chicago. There, she met and married a U.S. citizen, and the couple has four children, all U.S. citizens.

But things got complicated when her husband tried to legalize her status based on their marriage. During her final in-person interview to obtain permanent legal status — known as a green card — immigration officials questioned some of her story, and she was detained for 28 days, according to CNN. She never got the green card.

Lino has lived in fear ever since, dreading every time she has to check in with immigration officials. Those fears became reality this month when she appeared for her regular check with ICE and was informed she would be deported by July.  

Community leaders have rallied behind Lino. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., met with immigration officials in Chicago on March 13 to advocate on behalf of Lino and other undocumented immigrants facing deportation under Trump's policy. The congressman was even arrested for a short time after he refused to leave the ICE office with answers.

"We stood up to the bullies here," Gutierrez told reporters after he was released. "Unfortunately, tonight and tomorrow they will continue to prey on very vulnerable, defenseless people in their homes in the darkness of the night."

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