Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where is the Family Values Croud Now?

We deported Elvira Arellano this week, separating her from her 8-year-old son who, having been born in the States, is a citizen of the U.S.A. Her story is one that you would expect would raise feelings of compassion - it is the story of a mother who has struggled against forces much mightier than she in order to stay close to her child. Arrellano's tale might also be interpreted as an act of compassion on the part of the Christian Church (which should stir feelings of sympathy within the "religious" right), for after seeking sanctuary in a Chicago church to avoid deportation, Arrellano lived within the protection of the church for a year before leaving to speak about immigrants' rights. It was then that Arrellano was detained and eventually deported. Yet, according to Jim Hayes, the director of the L.A. office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, this mother and activist should be considered a "criminal fugitive from Mexico seeking to elude federal capture." To be clear - Arellano has committed no crime in her country of origin. The charge against her is that she used a false social security number to obtain employment here in the U.S. - as a janitor. Hayes continues by asserting "I think if you put that into appropriate perspective, we have to look back six years ago and see that people who use false identification documents can in fact be very dangerous." It is true that people who use false identification can be dangerous criminals and terrorists. But has our fear really made us insensible to to distinction between killers and mothers?

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