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August 20, 2007
'Sanctuary' Activist Deported
The case of Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant convicted of using a falsified social security card and ordered deported more than a year ago but then took refuge in a Chicago Catholic church claiming "sanctuary," took an interesting turn yesterday.Arellano's year long protest generated media headlines across the country. And the reaction to her arrest and deportation reveals the great divide between those who wish to see the law enforced and those who don't think the law applies to them:
The self-proclaimed "activist" decided to travel to Los Angeles to attend a pro-illegal immigrant rally where she was promptly arrested and just as promptly deported to Mexico:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested Arellano, 32, shortly after 2 p.m. Los Angeles time (just after 4 p.m. Chicago time,) as she and her supporters were leaving a downtown church where she sought sanctuary after slipping unnoticed out of the church on Chicago's Northwest Side where she had avoided deportation since August 2006.
As Arellano, her 8-year-old son Saul and others headed in a sport-utility vehicle along Main Street toward another leg of their trip in Northern California, several unmarked cars swarmed the vehicle, ordering her to get out as they grabbed the driver and handcuffed him, said Chicago activist Emma Lozano, who was with Arellano.
How dare "they" indeed. Using a false social security card and ignoring a deportation order might not be considered crimes in some countries. But perhaps surprisingly, the immigration authorities took the situation seriously enough to act in accordance with the law and not give in to naked political pressure exerted by an interest group.
"We are sad, but at the same time we are angry,” said Javier Rodriguez, a Chicago immigration activist who worked with her. “How dare they arrest this woman?”