Immigration Activist Arrested Outside L.A. Church

AP, August 20, 2007

An illegal immigrant who stayed in a Chicago church for a year to avoid separation from her 8-year-old son, a U.S. citizen, was arrested Sunday and being processed for deportation.

Elvira Arellano, who arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday after leaving her sanctuary to campaign for immigration reform, was arrested around 1:30 p.m. outside Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church where she had been speaking to reporters, said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist, the Chicago church.

Arellano was “being processed for removal to Mexico based upon a deportation order originally issued by a federal immigration judge in 1997,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release.

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Anti-illegal immigrant groups said the arrest was long overdue.

“Just because the woman has gone public and made an issue of the fact that she is defying law doesn’t mean the government doesn’t have to do its job,” said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors limits on immigration.

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Arellano came to Washington state illegally in 1997. She was deported to Mexico shortly after, but returned and moved to Illinois in 2000, taking a job cleaning planes at O’Hare International Airport.

She was arrested in 2002 at O’Hare and convicted of working under a false Social Security number. She was to surrender to authorities last August.

She sought refuge at the storefront church on Chicago’s West Side Aug. 15, 2006. She had not left the church property until deciding to be driven to Los Angeles, Coleman said.

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