The undocumented woman who was deported to Mexico Thursday amid protests in downtown Phoenix said she felt like a criminal when she was rushed out of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in a caravan of unmarked cars.
She complained she felt as if she were Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
“I felt like a criminal,” Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos told Mexican reporters in Nogales, where she is planning to settle for now.
Garcia, 35, said it was a "bittersweet experience" to see the support of her community back in Phoenix – she was moved by it but also was painfully aware that deportation was a reality.
She said she saw more undocumented immigrants at the ICE facility.
"There will be many more deported," said Garcia, who arrived in the United States more than 20 years ago.
She said that for now he is considering staying in the border town of Nogales to be close to her teenage children, who will continue studying in Arizona.
Garcia spoke from the Kino Border Initiative, a soup kitchen and shelter where many migrants go after being deported. Her U.S.-citizen children were by her side, their first time in Mexico.
"I'm doing this for my kids so they have a better life. I will keep fighting so they can keep studying in their home country," she told the Associated Press.
"We're a united family. We're a family who goes to church on Sundays; we work in advocacy. We're active."
Garcia also said she didn't regret her decision to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement despite knowing she'd risk getting arrested.
"I was very scared when I went to ICE, but I was not going to hide; I did not want that,” she told EFE.
Garcia de Rayos said she's not sure what comes next for her but that her parents, who live in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, are headed to Nogales to reunite with her.
Her attorney, Ray Ybarra Maldonado, said there aren't many legal avenues for her to come back to the U.S.
"Getting back to the U.S., legally, there's really no route for her. There's no avenue for her. There's no application she can submit. There's no waiver she can submit," Maldonado said. "I mean, this is a prime example of our failed immigration system."
AP and EFE contributed to this report.