LatinaLista — Flor Crisotomo is the latest undocumented immigrant to ask for sanctuary at Chicago's Adalberto United Methodist Church, the former sanctuary of Elvira Arellano.
Flor Crisostomo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico arrested at a workplace raid at a Chicago site of IFCO Systems in 2006, is helped by supporters as she leaves a news conference in Adalberto United Methodist Church where she sought sanctuary today Monday, Jan. 28, 2008 in Chicago to avoid deportation. Federal immigration officials say if she doesn't comply with a deportation order by tonight, she'll be considered a fugitive. Crisostomo says she knows her action will almost certainly lead to deportation or imprisonment. But she says she had to act to try and change U.S. immigration laws. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) (M. Spencer Green - AP)
Flor is staying for all the reasons why all undocumented immigrants stay â€” no job back home that can pay enough to keep her family fed, clothed and her children in school. The prospect of going back to an impoverished situation with no recourse to work herself out of it is enough reason that she and many stay and would rather challenge the federal government.
One source tells Latina Lista that Elvira and her son Saul are now living in a two-room shack with no indoor bathroom â€” a hard adjustment after living in the US with humble but basic necessities met.
Yet, while most undocumented immigrants' reasoning for staying in the US is along the lines of "the US needs us," Flor blames the US directly for losing her livelihood in Mexico and can prove it.
It wasn't until a new highway was built, far from her family's restaurant, to cater to new NAFTA traffic that her family lost everything.
Driven here because of the effects of NAFTA on her home town, she came to support her three children, her sister and her aging mother. She worked for IFCO until that company was raided in a high profile national raid in 2006, when she was arrested.
Flor explained that undocumented workers are caught between two U.S. policies. On the one hand, Homeland Security and a wave of local laws across the country are making it more and more difficult to survive openly in this country. On the other hand, the policies of NAFTA have devastated the rural economy of Mexico and as many as a million more Mexican farmers will be put out of work this year and most will seek to travel north.
"I cannot support my children if I return to Mexico because of the policies of NAFTA and yet for the 12 million it is becoming more and more difficult to survive here."
"The government has no intention of deporting 12 million people. They say they expect us to self-deport, but we cannot leave because of what U.S. economic policies have done to destroy jobs in our home countries. That is why the current policy will not end the system of undocumented labor. It will only drive us into worse and worse jobs."
"I will not be a symbol of fear to spread among my people. I hope that adding my grain of sand to the struggle will help to get the U.S. Congress to act to fix a broken law and an inhuman system of undocumented labor."