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Illegal immigration is simply 'share the wealth’ socialism and a CRIME not a race!

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William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian and abolitionist, told his colleagues, “Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Immigrant activist holed up in church is no Rosa Parks

Chicago Sun-Times ^ | August 22, 2006 | MARY MITCHELL

Elvira Arellano is definitely no Rosa Parks.

I even doubt that Arellano has any idea who Parks really was.

Because if she did, she wouldn't have hid inside the Adalberto United Methodist Church instead of reporting to immigration authorities for deportation. But with her son in tow, Arellano and her supporters could have marched into the immigration office and showed America exactly what the present immigration laws really mean:

That a single mother can be separated from her child; that husbands can be snatched from their wives; that working-class families can be torn apart simply because America has waited far too long to craft a fair and reasonable immigration policy.

Maybe then more of us would respect her stance.

But a week ago, Arellano, who is being described as an immigration activist, fled to the West Side church seeking sanctuary. The church is pastored by longtime social activist Rev. Walter "Slim" Coleman. She has vowed to stay put, and Coleman has promised to let her stay put.

"I'm strong, I've learned from Rosa Parks -- I'm not going to the back of the bus. The law is wrong," Arellano told reporters last week.

Despite the rhetoric, the 31-year-old Arellano doesn't seem to know much about black Americans' struggle for civil rights.

Didn't break the law

Parks didn't refuse to go to the back of the bus. She refused to give up her seat to a white man who couldn't find a seat in the so-called "white section." As onerous as the Jim Crow laws were, Parks didn't break them. That's why she could calmly go to the police station and sit in jail until her husband came to bail her out.

Because Parks wasn't a lawbreaker, the local NAACP decided to use her as a test case to challenge the Jim Crow laws. Her righteous cause drew widespread support and launched the civil rights movement in earnest.

Arellano obviously doesn't know anything about this important piece of history. If she did, she would care more about the circumstances of all illegal immigrants and not just her own.

As they say in the streets, Arellano is pimping the system. She is using Rosa Parks' name to buy herself more time, and that disgusts me.

Arellano is not a victim of an unjust system. She crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in 1997, obtained a fake ID and was caught at the border and returned home. Three days later, she sneaked back into the country and made her way to Washington state, where she managed to get a driver's license. She met her son's father and gave birth to her son in 1998. Two years later, Arellano moved to Chicago and again managed to get a fake ID -- a Social Security card -- and landed a job as a cleaning lady at O'Hare Airport. Three years after that, she was caught and pleaded guilty to working under a false Social Security number.

Her chutzpah makes her a folk hero to some, but her blatant exploitation of Parks' legacy undermines the fragile coalition between some blacks and Hispanics that has formed around the immigration issue.

Some of us -- particularly those who came to the urban areas during the Great Migration -- admire the courage it takes for someone to leave everything behind to strike out in search of a better life. But none should forget that blacks paid their dues.

Our ancestors didn't come here looking for work. They were dragged here against their will to work someone else's fields. They were the unpaid cotton, berry and peach pickers. They were the unpaid gardeners, construction laborers, nannies and domestics. If they stole an identity, it was to escape the cruel lash of the slavemaster. Their children weren't born American citizens, they were born chattel.

But instead of thanking blacks for paving the way, other groups have walked across black backs without so much as a "thank you for your sacrifices."

Should have returned to Mexico

The benefits that so many other groups -- women included -- now enjoy were purchased with black blood, sweat and tears.

As for Arellano, she's extremely fortunate. Black people were lynched in the past for defying any ol' white man, let alone one with authority.

Still, I understand why she garnered empathy from U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. America's immigration system is such a mess, both men stepped in in 2003 and secured a one-year extension from deportation on Arellano's behalf. They secured another one-year extension in 2004 and again in 2005.

During that grace period, Arellano should have returned to Mexico and gone to the back of the line. But she chose instead to butt those who play by the rules.

Obviously fearing a publicity nightmare, immigration authorities say they will not storm the church to deport Arellano. Instead, they will wait her out. Although a wise decision, it nonetheless sends a dangerous message.

Hopefully, while Arellano is languishing she will brush up on black history.

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