Elvira Arellano is back in Mexico, but if history is any indicator, she will soon be strapping on her waders and fording the Rio Grande.
Senorita Arellano, 32, was born in San Miguel Curahuango, Mexico, but since 1997 she has resided illegally in various American cities. While living in Oregon in 1999, Ms. Arellano gave birth to an illegitimate son who, due to a misreading of the 14th Amendment, automatically became a United States citizen. In 2002, amid a post-9/11 sweep, she was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for using a fake Social Security number. Released on probation, Ms. Arellano remained in the U.S. another four years before a judge ordered her to report for deportation. Rather than obey the court order, she sought sanctuary in a Methodist church. According to media reports Ms. Arellano only sought refuge in the church “to prevent being separated from her 8-year-old U.S.-born son,” though nothing prevented Ms. Arellano from taking her son home to Mexico. As a single mother, she would not even have to deal with custody rights.
Finally, last week Ms. Arellano was apprehended by immigration officials as she left one of her well-publicized speaking engagements at a Los Angeles church.
The doctrine of sanctuary is a quaint relic from medieval times. Fortunately as a rule of English law the tradition died out in 1623, and was never in evidence in the U.S. Until now. The New Sanctuary Movement is a religious and political network of radical left congregations who claim America’s immigration laws are immoral and — like slavery and Jim Crow laws — should be repealed. There are a dozen such sanctuaries in Los Angeles County alone. Immigration and Naturalization Service officers have been reluctant to enter such temples because of the certain political and public relations backlash, though INS officers presumably would not hesitate to enter a church if the fugitive were also wanted for larceny. This suggests the INS does not consider illegal immigration and violating a court order serious offenses. And if the INS is not willing to enforce the law, there is little point having a law.
FROM THE TIME Senorita Arellano entered the sanctuary of the Chicago Methodist church she became ringmaster of a gaudy media circus. Her illegal status and lack of English did not prevented her from staging frequent press conferences and speaking out on immigration reform and amnesty, nor did her lack of education or professional job experience prevent her from being named president of La Familia Latina Unida (United Latino Family), a group that lobbies for families with anchor babies.
When the majority of Americans remained unmoved by the plight of illegal aliens, Senorita Arellano pulled out her trump card, i.e., her doe-eyed son Saul. Last year the seven-year-old was dispatched to Mexico City to make a maudlin appearance before the Mexican congress where Arellano’s supporters successfully passed a nonbinding — but highly symbolic — resolution calling for legal residency for the parents of anchor babies. In a surprisingly critical passage in an otherwise fawning story, the Chicago Tribune reported that, “For Saul, the trip has at times been too much, Flashbulbs exploded as he entered the Mexican congressional chambers. Saul scurried into another room and hid under a table.” Activists also dragged the boy to Washington, D.C. for a “children’s rally” and he has appeared on numerous TV talk shows. Meanwhile, critics charge that the boy is not old enough to be an immigration rights advocate or activist, and that his mother should be protecting him, and not the other way around. Not to worry, his handlers say, the boy sees a therapist every week.
Estimates on the number of anchor babies in the U.S. range from 3.1 million to 4.9 million, and unless Congress acts those numbers will continue to rise. Representatives should begin by revisiting Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Michelle Malkin notes the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was intended to be exclusionary (especially toward American Indians) and certainly was not intended to include children born to tourists and temporary workers.
In fact, many categories of people were excluded from automatic citizenship. When the amendment was introduced, its sponsor Sen. Jacob M. Howard (MI) clearly stated: “This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”
Elvira Arellano has decided that her son will remain in Chicago with an immigration activist while she stays — who knows for how long — in Mexico. Chicago is where the television stations and newspapers photographers are. That is where he is needed most.
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