LatinaLista — The rumors started Friday afternoon. Elvira Arellano, the undocumented immigrant who had just completed her one-year anniversary in sanctuary in a Chicago-area church was on the move.
A quick call to one of her supporters confirmed only that there was “movement.”
LL: “I hear she is going to Los Angeles.”
Supporter: “I’m in Los Angeles.”
LL: “Is Elvira in Los Angeles?”
Supporter: “Elvira is not in Los Angeles.”
LL: “Is Elvira on her way to Los Angeles?”
Supporter: “All I can is that there is movement.”
It doesn’t take a big leap of imagination to draw the conclusion from that cryptic conversation that Elvira was heading to Los Angeles.
And it wasn’t any real surprise to hear that this afternoon while leaving Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in downtown Los Angeles, Elvira was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a very planned apprehension.
Arellano gives a press conference minutes before she is caught near Our Lady Queen of Angels Church. (Tribune photo by Abel Uribe)
According to news reports, the van Elvira, her 8-year-old son Saul and supporters was riding in, was surrounded by several unmarked cars. The agents jumped out of their cars screaming for Elvira to get out.
Supporters with Elvira say she was very calm and asked the agents to let her have a few moments with her son. They did.
Afterwards, she was carted off.
In a statement released Sunday night, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that its “officers in Los Angeles today arrested criminal alien and immigration fugitive Elvira Arellano.”
The only thing that makes Elvira a criminal is that she violated her original deportation orders by coming back to this country — like a lot of immigrants do.
To give up their family, friends and livelihood and return to where they have nothing, it’s not hard to understand why so many risk so much to return.
But Elvira’s case is different. She has done what few undocumented immigrants have been able to do — not just put a human face to the suffering of undocumented workers but she is forcing the hand of the Mexican government to address the situation.
A group of governor- representatives from the Conferencia Nacional de Gobernadores of Mexico just wound up a four-city tour of the United States where they met with local immigrant organizations outlining their plans to help their paisanos in this country.
In Dallas, two governors, one from Colima and the other from Guanajuato, told a standing-room only crowd that there were plans underway to help the immigrant communities in the United States.
From creating online distance-learning programs to creating an advisory council on how to best meet their needs, the governor of Colima confessed, “They asked in Los Angeles if we were ready for all the people who would be deported back to Mexico because of the law. Of course we are not, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.”
Colima Governor Lic. JesÃºs Silverio Cavazos Ceballos
Yet, the governors’ association can tap into the experiences of Elvira and bring her into their discussions. Having firsthand experience with life in the US as an undocumented worker, Elvira can best advise the governors on the types of help and programs 12 million people need and want.
Elvira’s arrest signals one thing for certain: the days of endless rhetoric from government officials, from both the U.S. and Mexico, are over.
The countdown has begun for real address, real remedies and a reality check that there are 12 million people under persecution.
In a press release just received from Elvira Arellano’s supporters:
PUEBLO SIN FRONTERAS
Los Angeles, CA
Today, at approximately 1:30 p.m., Elvira Arellano was arrested by some 15 ICE agents and taken into custody. At the time of her arrest she was calm and steady and concerned for the safety and state of mind of her son Saulito. She showed great dignity and courage during her arrest. We have been unable to contact I.C.E. to find out her status and we are concerned. We are calling on I.C.E. to give her son, her Pastor and her organization the opportunity to speak with her and verify her safety.
Elvira Arellano left her sanctuary church in Chicago, where she has been for the last year, and was moving from one sanctuary church to another across the country, beginning in L.A. She had announced on Wednesday, August 15th, that she could no longer sit by in safety and watch thousands of families being destroyed by our current broken immigration laws. Elvira had announced that she would make her way to Washington D.C. on September 12th for a day of prayer in front of the Congress. “If they are going to arrest me and separate me from my U.S. citizen son, then let them do it in front of the men and women who have failed in their responsibility to fix this broken law.” Elvira’s faith, her love for her son and her love for her people led her to act where others had failed to act. Her courage and her witness to the hypocrisy and inhumanity of the immigration laws of this country and the political cowardice of those in Congress charged with fixing these laws.
We will not and we cannot ignore her call to action. We cannot ignore the bond of love between a mother and a child that cries out for justice. We will continue the journey that Elvira Arellano started. We will hold the national Day of Prayer on September 12th and we will gather before the Congress in Washington D.C. We call for peaceful, determined mobilization, beginning tomorrow, in every city and state in this country as we build toward December 12th. Let everyone, let every mother or father who loves their children, say with courage and faith and conviction that say “I am Elvira Arellano.” Let them say it with the same courage and faith, love and conviction, that Elvira Arellano has shown the world. Elvira Arellano told the world that she would do what she had to do to make this government see what they did not want to see, the terrible destruction of families that is sweeping this country. Let them see it now, in Saulito’s broken heart.
We call again for immediate contact with Elvira Arellano and an immediate report from I.C.E on her condition and on what action I.C.E. plans to take in respect to her situation. We call on the U.S. Congress to move immediately on either of the two prioviate bills which have been lanquishing in committee for over a year, private bills that, if advanced in the Congress, would have stayed her deportation pending their outcome. We call on Senator Durbin to immediately introduce a private bill in her behalf, as he once did, byut failed to reintroduce in the Democratically controlled Senate.
Elvira Arellano is not a criminal or a terrorist. She is a mother – and she is a symbol of the failure of this government and this nation to take responsibility for the system of undocumented labor it has run for decades, to take responsibility for the families that were formed here and the children that were born here.
Let us mobilize our people. Let us not be afraid. Let us say with faith and dignity, “I am Elvira Arellano!”