Elvira Arrellano deported… a perfect example of why we need a path to citizenship for immigrant parents of US born children

August 20th, 2007 · 6 Comments

Elvira Arellano, an undocumented immigrant, who had been living in a Chicago church for the past year was deported to Tijuana, Mexico on Sunday. Arellano moved into a Methodist Church in Chicago to seek sanctuary. Her 8 year old son is a US citizen. This weekend she was in LA to speak to immigration reform supporters and was arrested by federal immigration agents outside of Our Lady Queen of Angels church.

I hope that Elvira’s story inspires the policy makers to provide a path to citizenship or legalized status for parents in her position. I remember seven years ago watching the Elian Gonzalez case and the outpouring of support for this little boy, whose own mother was trying to land on American shores. Ultimately, I supported his father’s parental right to raise him where he wanted to, which is in Cuba. It is kind of ironic that we welcome Cubans with open arms as refugees if they make it to the shore, but we shun our Mexican neighbors to the south who come here for that same opportunity to live the American dream.

Many people assume that Americans will eventually fill in for the work that the undocumented and poor immigrants do, but that doesn’t seem to be happening in some of the farming towns in Colorado. Some argue that as employers have trouble hiring undocumented migrants or other low wage immigrants that they will eventually raise wages to a level where people will start to take those jobs. I don’t think that will happen as quickly as we would like to satisfy those enterprises. Some places in the US are experimenting with US prison labor to fill in the void, but I doubt that will continue if prisoners escape. There aren’t any easy answers.

While he is here, I do hope that Elvira’s little boy, Saul, takes advantage of everything that US citizenship affords him. Her son is now living with the pastor of the Methodist church where she was seeking refuge. I believe that if he dedicates himself to his studies and becomes successful that his mother’s sacrifices will be worth the pain both he and she are enduring because of their separation. He really has a chance to prove to people that something positive can come from this situation.

Tags: Elvira Arellano · Immigration

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Barista // Aug 21, 2007 at 9:03 am

    It’s unfortunate Elvira was deported, and especially since she is now separated from her son. I happen to know of several Latinos who weren’t born here, but their children are. But as the way things work out over here, the fact that she has been deported has probably shed more light to this issue in the media than all of her efforts in activism combined. My thoughts and prayers go out to her, not only as a supporter of her reform efforts but as a parent knowing how hard it must be to be separated from your child.

  • 2 The Kaiser // Aug 22, 2007 at 12:28 am

    I wonder how many illegal Persians were deported back to Iran this month? And what about all those illegal Irish drunks at Fenway cursing at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team. I didn’t see the INS camping out and hauling them away. Did 9/11 happen because the INS was too busy raiding Mexican restaurants, when they should have been looking for those Arab hijackers all congregated in Boston? At least Elvira didn’t hijack any airplanes, or throw bottles and trash at the Angels. Then again dealing with the INS can be as bad as dealing with the Gestapo at times, especially if you have a Spanish surname in your U.S. passport.

  • 3 Bearguez // Aug 22, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Elvira will be back. She will be there is remind us how racist our immigration policies have become. That is the GOP Congress at work.

  • 4 james dean // Aug 29, 2007 at 3:20 am

    How many people did Mexico deport this month? Also, children belong to their parents, not to a government. She should have taken her child with her. What kind of mother abandons her child just to make a political statement. Mexico is not some terrible country, only one who has abandoned their responsibility to provide jobs for their citizens and then demonizing the US for not doing what they should be doing themselves. The US governments primary responsibilities is to the citizens who have lived there and built it for generations. It’s stupid to have laws that say if someone has a baby on your doorstep you are suddenly responsible for that baby. I say lets standardize immigration laws in North America and use the immigration policy of the Mexican government as it’s model.

  • 5 Michaelr // Aug 31, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Hey james dean…the last country the U.S needs to emulate in any way is Mexico. Why do you think the bottom third of their population migrates here to work? If we’re going to emulate a country, we need to look no further than Canada.

  • 6 DfD // Dec 13, 2008 at 11:44 am

    We already have a humane, fair, just, and compasssionate path to citizenship into the U.S. Elvira chose not to follow that path. And child abandonment is not a great way to sell to people on just what a great mother she is. I don’t know of ANY woman who would abandon her kid in such a manner…

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