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.

Elvira Arellano and her son Saúl (in yellow) in a Los Angeles
church before her deportation Sunday, Aug. 19.

Related Articles:

New America Media Gives Exceptional Communicator Award to Undocumented Activist

U.S. Marshals Denies it Plans to Arrest Elvira Arellano

Los Angeles Protest for Immigrant Rights

Page 1 of 1


User Comments

ED MCMAHON on Aug 26, 2007 at 01:17:49 said:


AlecWest on Aug 25, 2007 at 21:46:05 said:

Delia - I hear what you're saying and agree with your sentiments. But I have another theory. Remember, she's not just an illegal alien ... she's an illegal alien ACTIVIST.

I suspect Arellano planned everything that has transpired. She wanted to be apprehended, wanted to be deported, and wanted to leave her son behind. In Mexico, she is an icon representing all the illegals currently in our country ... and all those who want to follow in her place. In Mexico, she can say anything she wants to say and is guaranteed publicity. And all her son has to do is look sorrowful.

A mother and her son, languishing in a sanctuary, don't capture headlines. But a mother SEPARATED from her son by force ... deported to her homeland while her son remains behind ... is the stuff headlines are made of. And that's exactly what she wants - headlines.

Delia on Aug 23, 2007 at 23:27:06 said:

In all the 10 years that Elvira Arellano was in the United States she learned nothing. She did not learn to speak English, she did not learn that the law specifies that an American born son can petition his mother at the age of 18, not any time sooner and she did not learn that immigration officials do not forget. Did she think that she could leave her sanctuary and parade around in a protest and that all would be forgotten? After all the time she spent hiding and mocking them? Immigration probably set someone up to spy on her 24 hours a day until she messed up, and she sure did. The hide and seek game is over she must go home, protest over there as much as she likes and stop trying to make a martyr out of her son and take him home with her. They will be fine.

Vicki on Aug 23, 2007 at 11:14:38 said:

It is said this country has let illegal immigration get to the point of where it is now. If they woould have put a stop to this 20 years ago it would not be hard to correct this problem. I feel the spanish community has taken advantage since the white fails enforce its laws. Now everyone is up in arms. The spanish community especially Mexican feel that this country owes them something. How can that be when they get better treated then the ones who are legal. Cuba gets all kinds of assistance because they have political asylum. Crazy!!!! I also agree if the parents are illegal and they have children for goodness sake, If you are going to deport the parent then the children go also. Another ridiculous law of the white man. It is just creating an abundance of children lost in the system. It is bad enough you have to deal with children who have their parents and come out criminals now you have this problem too.

America wake up!!!!

Al Brad on Aug 23, 2007 at 11:06:08 said:

This is in response to M. Guiterrez:

The Vienna Convention . . . Ms. Guiterrez, should we process every illegal immigrant thru the VC that has broken several laws and continues to wear the shawl of lawlessness?

And what facts do you have in regards to the impact of the illegal immigrant on society, it's beneifts and/or disadvantages? None, no one has accurate numbers as both sides will "spin" to win. I respect your position - but the more illegals that "thumb their nose" to ICE . . . the more aggressive this is going to get.

Alec West on Aug 22, 2007 at 20:21:35 said:

Laura said, quote, "ALL US citizens should learn about and accept the importance of the Latino workforce on the USA's economy."

First, let's clarify something. I do NOT hate Latino people. Race has nothing to do with it. It's a person's willingness to obey our laws that matters. As such, it is not a Latino workforce I'm against ... it's the component of that workforce who are breaking the law to become part of that workforce.

The importance of the "illegal component" of the Latino workforce in the USA's economy is a myth. The truth is that this "illegal component" takes jobs away from legal immigrants who would gladly work them.

My spouse's siblings are legal Filipino immigrants. Filipinos, other Asians, Africans, immigrants from post-Soviet republics, etc., work in the fields, the fast-food restaurants, the motels and hotels, and other places some people say only illegal Latino immigrants will work. The problem is that petition approval numbers for these willing workers are "adjusted downward" to take into account the estimate of illegal entries ... pushing the legals to the back of the immigration bus. My wife's siblings were pushed back by 3 years for that reason - and this is according to the INS (ICE).

People living in the barrios of the rural Philippine countryside are just as desperate for the "good life" as any other immigrant. They're just willing to obey the law to get a chance at that good life. And who's more deserving of that good life ... an immigrant who obeys our laws or an immigrant who doesn't?

In short, illegals are not just doing the work Americans won't do ... they're doing the work legals would do IF THEY COULD ONLY GET HERE!!!

Randy on Aug 22, 2007 at 12:02:30 said:

In response to laura--- The Illegals have lowered my wages as a carpenter and are making it impossible to support my Family..You say they are helping the economy that is b.s.I have been a carpenter over 20 years and my wages are down to where they were 15 years ago..They are making our school system a joke and abusing our hospitals..walk around the corner here in any city U.S.A. and see 5 Familys living in 1 single family dwelling..That Illegal elvirus needed to get booted out and she should take her son with her..I would never let my kid live with a stranger..She is using him as a pawn again.. And she's a baby waver..

jack on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:28:42 said:

If the activist in question was deported in 1997 and returned to Chicago in 2000.The son is 8 years old. How is he an American? My math is a little rusty but... Our laws should be changed on who is an American, The law should state born by legal parents.

Kathleen on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:27:06 said:

Elvira should use her energy to fix her country instead of trying to change this country. Mexico has so much beachfront and beautiful countryside, build the tourist industry! (the country could prosper on this alone) Mexico has so many workers, bring on the factories! We wouldn\'t have to pay so much for importing from across the ocean. What happened to Mexico, President Fox and pride in the people? Elivira now has the ear of the media, she needs to be heard regarding her country not ours.

Mercedes Gutierrez on Aug 22, 2007 at 10:29:02 said:

Regardless of the causes behind Ms. Arellano's deportation it is unacceptable that she was denied the consular rights agreed in the Vienna Convention where it is stated that she has the right to be taken to a Mexican Consulate where they can organise her defense and ensure a respuectful and safe passage into Mexico.
Before lashing out on immigrants such as Elvira Arellano ALL US citizens should learn about and accept the importance of the Latino workforce on the USA's economy

laura on Aug 22, 2007 at 04:28:12 said:

Good Riddance Elvira!!!!

Elvira and her son have a choice and they CHOOSE to live in different locations. The boy can go to school here and visit his mother on weekends, breaks etc... many many children do this already (and they are usually wealthy). Her son is still giong to be able to get a education. What's the big deal? Instead of traumatizing him she by this "forced" seperation she should stop using him and help him adjust to his time "away at school" and look forward to seeing her on his holidays.

She made the choice.

laura on Aug 22, 2007 at 04:27:13 said:

Good Riddance Elvira!!!!

Elvira and her son have a choice and they CHOOSE to live in different locations. The boy can go to school here and visit his mother on weekends, breaks etc... many many children do this already (and they are usually wealthy). Her son is still giong to be able to get a education. What's the big deal? Instead of traumatizing him she by this "forced" seperation she should stop using him and help him adjust to his time "away at school" and look forward to seeing her on his holidays.

She made the coice.

Ruth on Aug 21, 2007 at 19:28:52 said:

This woman was deported for her illegal entry into the U.S. She had been deported before and came back again and again. She has committed numerous illegal crimes/actions and has gotten what she deserves. The situation her son is in is because of HER actions and HER actions only. She has broken many, many laws of this country and her actions are what has caused her and her son to be in the situation they are in now - a situation of her creation. Why does she and people like her think that they are entitled to break law after law and demand of the U.S. government that which not even U.S. citizens can obtain.

I have no problem whatsoever with legal immigration - the more the merrier - as long as the government can account for you and you have followed the rules. If you come into the U.S. illegally, in my opinion, all bets are off. If you are caught then you should be sent back to your own country. No amnesty - this country cannot take every person who wants to come here. In the opinion of some, U.S. immigration laws are too slow - that may be true - but that doesn't give you the right to break the law and come into the country illegaly because you think the laws are wrong or slow - you have to do things the legal way. Otherwise, if you are caught being in the country illegally and you get deported - that is your fault and no one elses, especially not the governments.

Most of the undeveloped world wants to live in the U.S. - the U.S. can take only so many people - and only when the government knows and allows them to come here. The U.S. takes in more legal immigrants than all other countries combined! It seems like many illegals want to make the U.S. the same kind of country they came from. They want to create the same kinds of illegal and corrupt systems in their country when they should stay and work to make their own countries better.

I say she was correctly deported by her own illegal actions and the country is better off without her. She created her situation. She can blame the U.S. government all she wants but it was her own illegal actions that brought about her deportion and separation from her son. By the way, should could have and still can take him with her.

dan on Aug 21, 2007 at 18:59:22 said:

This Women comes into the U.S Illegaly,uses a false s.s. number.Gets a job at an airport prabably making more than I ever have.And wants to sit there and call herself an activist?What a joke.Why doesnt she protest in mexico about there corrupt broken goverment.




Just Posted

NAM Coverage



Advertisements on our website do not necessarily reflect the views or mission of New America Media, our affiliates or our funders.