Posted on August 29, 2006

Church Closes Off Its Doors To Activist’s Debate

Andrew L. Wang, Chicago Tribune, August 28, 2006

In a scene filled with theatrics and rhetoric, an anti-immigration activist from Los Angeles was barred from entering Sunday services at a West Side church where Elvira Arellano, an illegal Mexican immigrant, has taken refuge from authorities.

Emblematic of the acrimony of the national debate over undocumented immigrants, half a dozen men stood abreast at the entrance of Adalberto United Methodist Church blocking Ted Hayes’ entry as others banged drums to drown out his shouts.

“Behold I stand at the door and knock,” Hayes called out repeatedly, his hand pumping in the air with a single pointed finger. “May I come to church please?”

One church member stood chest-to-chest with Hayes as others rained boos upon the homeless advocate who flew from the West Coast last week to protest Arellano’s defiance of a government deportation order.

Arellano, 31, has drawn international attention during her nearly two-week stand in the church. She has been in the country illegally and was ordered deported. Arellano has resisted deportation because she says her 7-year-old son, Saul — an American citizen — would be left alone if she were sent back to Mexico.

Because Arellano ignored her deportation order, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement now considers her a fugitive. Last week attorneys filed a lawsuit on her son’s behalf, charging that his rights would be violated if his mother were to be deported.

On Friday, Hayes asked Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of the storefront church at 2716 W. Division St., if he could attend the noon service Sunday. Coleman gave him no answer, so Hayes decided to show up.

When Hayes arrived, Coleman “straight up told me that I’m not coming in,” he said.

Hayes works with the homeless in L.A. and is affiliated with the Minutemen, an anti-illegal immigration group.

With his arguments wending through discussions of slavery, the 14th Amendment and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Hayes said he came from California to protest because “what this woman, these people are doing is killing my people.”

“They’re taking our heritage,” said Hayes, who is black. “They’re taking my civil rights. They’re taking my icons, like Rosa Parks and Dr. King.

“These people were citizens. This lady’s no citizen. She’s a criminal.”

Arellano was criticized recently after she compared herself to Parks, the black Alabama seamstress who refused to give her bus seat to a white man in 1955.

Hayes said Arellano should go back to Mexico and protest for reform of the government there, which he called corrupt.

After the two-hour service, Coleman said he didn’t want Hayes at the service because he didn’t want to create more volatility.

“He’s a provocateur,” Coleman said, “and his aim and the aim of the Minutemen is to create a violent situation inside the church.”


After chatting with a few passersby, he got into the car of the lone Illinois Minuteman member who joined him Sunday. Within moments, Hayes was gone.

And the doors to the church, shut tight to keep him out, opened again.

In recent times and in the Middle Ages, a sanctuary served as asylum, a place of refuge for persons fleeing from violence or from the penalties of law. . . Christian churches were given the right of sanctuary by Constantine I. Abuses of sanctuary, tending to encourage crime, led to its curtailment and abolition. Modern penal codes no longer recognize the right to sanctuary. (Columbia University Press — Encyclopedia)

What would have happened if Al Capone or Mafia kingpin John Gotti had decided to seek sanctuary in a church? Would your everyday rank and file law breaker be permitted to hole up in a church under the guise of sanctuary? Would derelict parents who refuse to pay child support be accorded sanctuary in a church to avoid prosecution?

The answer to these questions is a resounding “No — of course not.” Why? Because they were/are lawbreakers, i.e., common criminals, and because U.S. penal codes do not recognize the right to sanctuary.

However, once again we see that, thanks to federal officials and President Bush’s lax (I correct myself — his non-existent) immigration policy, illegal immigrants are granted rights and privileges that legal U.S. citizen criminals are not.

Elvira Arellano is the current poster child for the special treatment illegal criminals are given. Arellano broke into our country illegally in 1997. She was promptly arrested and deported, only to illegally re-enter a few days later. She lived for three years in Oregon before moving to Chicago in 2000. She was subsequently arrested in a post-9/11 undercover sting code-named Operation Chicagoland Skies. She, along with dozens of other illegals, was working at O’Hare and Midway airports. Convicted of working under a false Social Security number, she was ordered to report to the Department of Homeland Security office for deportation Aug. 15.

She refused, taking refuge in Chicago’s Adalberto United Methodist Church. Her reasons for continuing to break the law are legion, including that her 7-year-old son “is a U.S. citizen [and] he doesn’t want [her] to go anywhere, so [she’s] going to stay with him.”

Is this not preposterous or what? Am I the only one outraged by this criminal’s arrogant flouting of our laws? She claims she just wants to be a good mother and therefore “deserves” to stay in our country. She conveniently omits that her child was not born until one year after she had illegally entered the country a second time (and then at the taxpayer’s expense). My assessment is: She is a criminal who should be deported. She can be a good mother back in Mexico.

She is supported by proponents who apparently believe that U.S. law applies only to U.S. citizens, not illegal aliens. She is also president of United Latino Family — a group that lobbies for families that might be separated by deportation.

Arellano represents the appalling truth that illegals are selfish criminals singularly intent on breaking our laws for personal gain. They claim, as does this person, that they only want to work and raise their families. The problem with that canard is that while they may work, I have become aware that many still collect welfare and food stamps, live in subsidized housing, and not only have their children at taxpayer expense, but enjoy every child welfare program available.


Walter Coleman, pastor of the church she is holed up in resisting arrest, claims that after praying about her “plight,” he doesn’t think she should have to choose between leaving her son behind or removing him from his home here.

I want to know what “god” told this so-called pastor to break the law. Was it the same one that told Presbyterian minister Paul Hill to murder an abortion doctor and his bodyguard?


Arellano is now comparing herself to civil rights icon Rosa Parks. She also says she is armed with video cameras to film her potential church arrest. I say she should entitle the anticipated video “Adios Senorita.”