An immigration activist who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year to avoid being separated from her son has been deported to Mexico, the church’s pastor said Elvira Arellano was arrested Sunday afternoon outside Our Lady Queen of Angels church in Los Angeles. She was deported several hours later, said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano had taken refuge.” She has been deported. She is free and in Tijuana,” said Coleman, who said he spoke to her on the phone. “She is in good spirits. She is ready to continue the struggle against the separation of families from the other side of the border.”
Messages left with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were not immediately returned. Arellano, 32, became a symbol of the struggles of illegal immigrant parents when she took refuge in the church to avoid being separated from her 8-year-old son Saul, who was born in the U.S. and is thus a citizen.
She had said Saturday she was not afraid of being taken into custody by immigration agents.”From the time I took sanctuary the possibility has existed that they arrest me in the place and time they want,” she said in Spanish. “I only have two choices. I either go to my country, Mexico, or stay and keep fighting. I decided to stay and fight.”Arellano came to Washington state illegally in 1997.
She was deported to Mexico shortly after, but returned and moved to Illinois in 2000, taking a job cleaning planes at O’Hare International Airport.She was arrested in 2002 at O’Hare and convicted of working under a false Social Security number. She was to surrender to authorities last August.
She sought refuge at the storefront church on Chicago’s West Side on Aug. 15, 2006. She had not left the church property until she decided to travel by car to Los Angeles, Coleman said. Coleman said Arellano, who is staying with a friend in Tijuana, had brought to light her struggle, and for that, “she has won a victory.”
“She’ll be organizing on the Mexican side of the border while we’re organizing in the (United) States,” Coleman said Monday. “She’ll be talking to organizations throughout Mexico and congressmen in Mexico City.”
Coleman said he and other activists will continue Arellano’s original plan to go to Washington, D.C. and take part in a prayer meeting and rally for immigration reform at the Capitol on Sept. 12.
Immigration activists responded with anger to her arrest, and promised protests and vigils to support her.
“We are sad, but at the same time we are angry,” said Javier Rodriguez, a Chicago immigration activist who worked with Arellano. “How dare they arrest this woman?”
Anti-illegal immigrant groups said the arrest was long overdue.
“Just because the woman has gone public and made an issue of the fact that she is defying law doesn’t mean the government doesn’t have to do its job,” said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors limits on immigration.
Arellano has repeatedly called for a stop to immigration raids that break up families with some members who are in the U.S. legally and others illegally.
Emma Lozano, Coleman’s wife and head of immigration rights group Centro Sin Fronteras in Chicago, said she was Saul’s legal guardian. At an afternoon press conference in Los Angeles, the boy hid behind Lozano and wiped away tears. “He’s taking it better than we thought he would,” Lozano said.
While being arrested, Arellano spoke briefly with her son before submitting to authorities, Lozano said.
“She calmed him down, hugged him and gave him a blessing,” said Lozano.
Arellano came here illegally in 1997, and was deported. She re-entered illegally, moved to Chicago, obtained a fraudulent Social Security number and got a job at O’Hare Airport. She’s caught again, but this time is released and told to report to authorities for deportation. She does what any illegal alien-come-activist does and hides in a church, claiming ‘sanctuary’. Sanctuary from her crimes, that is. That Pastor should be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a felon.
She attempted to use her 8-year old (anchor baby) son as an excuse for amnesty. That tactic was rejected, and she’s been deported again. I expect her face to pop up in the near future, this time with Al Sharpton, La Raza and MEChA goons in the background.
Illegals come across the border even after deportation because no one stops them. The Federal Government doesn’t do its job, most State and local governments have yet to put their foot down and enact or actually enforce immigration laws, saying that it’s the Feds job. Well the way I see it, a broken law is just that, regardless of where it’s committed.
The lax immigration policies have gone on for so long that the average illegal expects to stay here carte blanche. It’s not just south-of-the-border illegals we should be concerned about; it’s terrorist cells who come in because they can. We are a sovereign nation. We have borders. It’s time we define and protect them.