Elvira Arellano Protests From Mexico
NAM, News Feature, Roberto Lovato, Peter Micek Posted: Aug 21, 2007
Editor's Note: Elvira Arellano was a symbol for many undocumented immigrants. She sought shelter in a church and lived there for a year until she left with her son for LA where she was arrested and deported. This is NAM's exclusive interview with her.
Why do you think you were arrested and deported now?
They always had plans to deport me because I speak out. They saw me as a threat to the United States because of the actions I took in favor of legalization. I knew this. They need to send a message to the undocumented.
What message is that?
Message the government is sending them is "Shut up, stop struggling" and that's the worst thing that they (the undocumented) can do because it will not unite families, it will not protect them from further exploitation, it will not stop the raids. My arrest was about creating intimidation and fear. I don't regret speaking out. It was necessary.
I think that this will create some fear, but it will also motivate many thousands to keep resisting the injustices our community is experiencing.
The undocumented must keep struggling, especially for laws that protect families and keep them together.
I will keep fighting from here. I knew the possibility of beingdeported but I needed to struggle and I will keep struggling to protect divided families like mine. I want the people and the government of the United States to see what they are doing to families. There are millions of families who are separated, millions who don't speak out for their rights and are being exploited.
What effect is this having on your son, Saul?
It's very difficult for him. He still can't believe that I won't return to be with him in the United States. Yesterday was verydifficult for him. He had to watch as they arrested me and that scared him a lot. I tried to calm him. It hurt me to see my son watch. I hurt me deeply (sobbing). Yesterday was difficult for me and the evening was more difficult because he wasn't with me.
Where is he now?
He's on his way to Los Angeles right now to attend a protest. He has a very difficult choice. He wants to be in his country (the US), but he also wants to be with me. I'm giving him the space to think and decide what he wants. He loves me and I think that in a few days he will probably decide to be with his mother.
I'm not obligating him to stay with me in Mexico. I'm giving him time to think about what he wants to do. If he wants to keep struggling for me that's his choice. I'm not going to oblige him to come to Mexico. He's always been a part of the struggle.
I'm not obligating him to do anything. I'm not that kind of mother. He is speaking out because he wants to be with his mother.
What are your plans?I'm a little confused right now because of what just happened. I'm going to take time to get clear. I will go and be with my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews in Michoacan. I haven't seen them in 10 years.
I've been talking with lots of people here in Mexico and in the US and their support has been outstanding. I will be here for a mobilization and actions planned for September 12th. People in many cities – Los Angeles, Chicago and others – are planning events. We are not going to stop struggling and I will continue to do my part from here.
Elvira Arellano Deported
A symbol for the undocumented is sent to Mexico
NAM, News Digest, Peter Micek, Photos by Chris Martinez/La Opinión, Posted: Aug 21, 2007
LOS ANGELES – Immigrant activist Elvira Arellano is on Mexican soil, reports Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión. Arellano, who had been resisting deportation for more than a year, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) around 2:15 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, in downtown Los Angeles. That night, ICE delivered her to Mexican immigration authorities in Tijuana, La Opinión reports.
“Not even deporting me will silence me,” Arellano told La Opinión in an exclusive interview Monday. “If it took my arrest to unite the community, community leaders and religious leaders, to fight all together, I am happy to have paid that price because I know the community is rising.”
Originally from Michoacan, Mexico, Arellano, 32, spent more than a year in sanctuary in a Chicago church. She traveled to California last weekend to begin a cross-country caravan for immigration reform. She was leaving a church service en route to San Jose, Calif., La Opinión reports, when various vehicles detained the caravan and some 15 officers made the arrest.
Activist Emma Lozano told the newspaper that Arellano remained calm and tried to pacify her son, Saul, 8, a U.S. citizen, who was present during the arrest. Saul was left in Lozano’s care. He starts school in Chicago on Sept. 3, according to La Opinión, though whether he will remain in the country permanently is uncertain.
On Monday, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision reported various groups were organizing to protest the “cowardly” deportation of one of the immigration reform movement’s most visible faces. They were to hold a vigil Monday night, Javier Rodríguez, leader of the March 25 Coalition in Los Angeles told Univision, and would spend the day planning protests, “in indignation at the cowardly arrest and expedited deportation that she fell victim to.”
With reporting by Ami Bonilla, NAM intern and Stanford Univ. student.
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