Elvira Arellano has become a national symbol of the fight for rights of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and an activist for illegal immigrant parents as she disregarded her deportation order.
Here is her story:
Elvira illegally entered the United States in 1997, but was soon deported back to Mexico by the United States government. Within a couple of days, she returned to the United States and lived illegally for three years in Oregon. She gave birth to baby boy, Saul, who happens to be a U.S. citizen. In 2000, a year after Saul was born, Elvira moved to Chicago and worked at the airport. On August 15, 2006, Elvira was ordered to appear before the immigration authorities on the account of being arrested and convicted of working under a false Social Security number. On that exact date, she and her son took refuge in the Adalberto United Methodist Church in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago. For a year, she took refuge in the church to avoid being separated from her U.S.-born son. She explains, “From the time I took sanctuary, the possibility has existed that they arrest me in the place and time they want. I only have two choices. I either go to my country, Mexico, or stay and keep fighting. I decided to stay and fight.” In response, Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform says, “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.” Mexican lawmakers tried to urge the United States government to suspend the deportation of Elvira and other parents of children who are United States citizens. However, nine months later, she was arrested by U.S. federal agents in compliance with an existing deportation order and was accompanied to the border of Mexico. Repeatedly, Elvira has appealed for a stop to immigration raids that break up families with some member who in the United States legally and others illegally. She believes her son would be deprived of his rights as a U.S. citizen if had to go to Mexico simply because she did. While Elvira is currently still in Mexico, her son Saul is living with the pastor who started the sanctuary at the Church he and his mom took refuge in. As how Saul is doing, “He’s taking it better than we thought
Hing, Julianne. "Elvira Arellano Keeps Her Promises, Won’t Stop Fighting." COLORLINES. 11 May 2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2011.
Prengaman, Peter. "Immigration Activist Deported to Mexico." Breitbart.com. The Associated Press, 20 Aug. 2007. Web. 08 Nov. 2011.