Hundreds of immigration activists marched through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to show solidarity with a Mexican woman who was expelled from the United States.
The 32-year-old Elvira Arellano had fought to remain in the United States with her son but was deported earlier this week.
Demonstrators, including families with children, chanted, "We are all Elvira!" and "Legalization now!" in Spanish and English, to show support for Arellano, a single mother who was arrested in Los Angeles last Sunday and quickly shipped off to Mexico.
More than a dozen speakers emphasized the need to change immigration laws to enable working immigrants to stay in the United States.
Arellano, a native of the Mexican state of Michoacan, became a lighting rod for debate over immigration when she holed up in a Chicago church for nearly a year, seeking sanctuary from federal agents who were trying to deport her. She became an outspoken critic of immigration laws that separate illegal immigrant parents from their legal resident children.
According to the New Sanctuary Movement, some 600,000 families in America face the prospect of being broken apart.
"People are arrested and deported for the simple fact that they are working illegally," Angela Sanbrano, president of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, told the crowd.
"We want legalization for 12 million people that are working," she said, "We want recognition of the contribution that immigrants are making to the country."
Religious leaders also emphasized the importance of keeping families together.
"We're here as God's family. No family should be split apart," said Father Richard Estrada.
"Thousands of Jews received sanctuary from righteous Christians during the Holocaust. Can we do no less than to give people sanctuary?" asked Rabbi Steven Jacobs of Temple Kol Tikvah.
"I am ashamed to be part of a country that promotes family values but separates families from their children," Jacobs said.
Some 3.1 million children have one or more parents who are in the country illegally, according to a 2006 Pew Hispanic Center report.
Arellano entered the United States illegally in 1997 and was thrown out almost immediately after crossing the border. She soon got back, and her son was born in Washington state. In 2000, she settled in the Windy City, where she got a job cleaning planes at O'Hare International Airport.
In 2002, she was arrested in the post 9/11 crackdown on airport employees and convicted of using a bogus Social Security number, which led to the deportation order.
Authorities did not bother her inside the church, but when she came to Southern California to appear at churches to call for amnesty for illegal immigrants, Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers took her into custody as she left a church in downtown Los Angeles. Before the day was out, she had been taken to Mexico.
Her critics charge that by coming into the country illegally and using a false Social Security number she broke the law and deserved to be deported.
They also noted that if she wants to be with her son, she should bring him to Mexico with her.
Last Mod: 26 Ağustos 2007, 13:03