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Commentary: Elvira Arellano Inspires Unity and Mass Actions

By Carlos Montes

Carlos Montes on left along with Elvira Arellano and her son Saul

Los Angeles, CA – I met Elvira Arellano briefly on Aug. 18, at Los Angeles’s Placita Catholic Church, after our pro-immigrant rights march in downtown. I was tired but meeting her and her son Saulito energized and inspired me.

She is a strong woman committed to justice for the 12 million undocumented immigrants living under the attacks of the Bush administration. We spent a few happy moments talking about the organizing in L.A. and Chicano history like the East Los Angeles Walkouts. She has seen the HBO movie about the Chicano students’ fight for better education and liked it. Her son Saulito asked me who was a Chicano, I responded that he was.

The next day Elvira, Saul, Emma Lozano and Reverend Slim Coleman spent Sunday at the church masses with the immigrant community of Los Angeles. At about 1:30 p.m. they left the church to travel to other sanctuary churches, but a block away four cars from the Department of Homeland Security, with about ten armed agents, stopped and arrested her. By 10:00 p.m. she was deported to Tijuana, Mexico. In Tijuana she has stated that she will continue her struggle for legalization and justice for immigrant families.

Her arrest was condemned by the entire immigrant rights movement and has led to unity of those demanding her return, legalization now and an end to raids, detentions and deportations. A new united front network has come into being that includes March 25 Coalition, and CHIRLA and religious leaders. They have called for a mass march on Aug. 25 in Los Angeles, endorsed the national call to protest in Washington D.C. Sept. 12 and urge a national labor and economic boycott.

Elvira had been in sanctuary in Chicago for over a year, not willing to be deported or separated from her son. She has become a symbol of hope and inspiration for the millions of immigrants and the immigrant rights movement that fight for legalization and equal rights.

Carlos Montes is a veteran Chicano activist and a leader of the immigrant rights movement.

Screenshot of flyer - English

Screenshot of flyer - Spanish

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