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.