Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rosa Parks, Criminal Alien

What do you do when a photogenic young immigrant mother of US citizens, sheltered by a church, has become a major symbol for one of the cruelest aspects of our incoherent immigration policies? Seize her, deport her, and when asked about the message being sent just say that you were sending a: "message to criminal illegal aliens who are fugitives, that we are going to continue to target them."

The mother is Elvira Arellano. During the last year in which she has been given sanctuary in a Chicago church, Arellano has raised public awareness of how current mandatory deportation laws rip apart families and leave US citizen children deprived of their most basic need by action of the US government. During a trip to a Los Angeles church, Arellano was seized by Immigration Control and Enforcement agents and quickly deported to Tijuana Mexico. Her 8 year old son Saul was with her. Arellano's saga was reported in a story by Randal Archibald in today's New York Times.

Arellano has been compared with Rosa Parks, the legendary Alabama civil rights activist who became the face of the famed Montgomery bus boycott. Just as segregationist governors called Parks a criminal for violating laws enforcing segregation, ICE officials described Arellano as a "criminal illegal alien" and a "fugitive." Unlike Alabama officials, the US government has laws that label as "criminal aliens" any non-citizen (legal or otherwise) who has been convicted of a wide range of state or federal criminal laws (including misdemeanors).

Arellano's crime, a felony, was a classic instance of creating a crime out of the very fact of being a worker and an illegal immigrant. Arellano used a false social security number to obtain her job (the false number in no way defrauds the government or other citizens since the funds are only paid into the social security account and never are able to be withdrawn by the illegal immigrant). That is a felony of identity theft and based on that she moved from illegal immigrant to the full, "criminal illegal alien fugitive."

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