The new pink, on Elvira Arellano

On the Okayplayer message board, the reaction over Elvira Arellano’s arrest was much different than my other online favorites. People like The Unapologetic Mexican and Daniel Hernandez have gloomy feeling posts and updates on the situation. MySpace bulletins included announcements about press conferences and protest rallies. They’re just words, but I can feel the anger from those guys and my other friends. I’m angry too.

My fellow blogger’s anger isn’t over Arellano defying deportation. Nope. It was about the manner in which she was arrested and quickly deported.

I didn’t expect this reaction on a message board I frequently read, Okayplayer. There, the reaction bordered on glee. One woman — who claimed to be liberal when it came to the whole immigration debate — called Arellano’s 8-year old son and anchor baby and was happy she had been deported. Others in the thread responded similarly. The only anger at Okayplayer came from comparison to Rosa Parks.

I’ll admit, many comparisons to Rosa Parks are flat out offensive and even comical (see Sarah Vowell’s essay on the topic, Rosa Parks C’est Moi in The Partly Cloudy Patriot). However, Arellano was doing something similar.

She was a young woman from Michoacán. She was openly defying this nation’s laws that she considered unjust and unfair. Her defiance of these laws was dangerous. Crossing the border is not easy and we know that being held in one of the ICE detention centers can be hazardous — even deadly — to your health. She’s part of a large movement considered by many as this nation’s newest Civil Rights Movement and is president of the organization La Familia Latina Unida and her right to take sanctuary in a church was supported by prominent national civil rights organizations like National Council of La Raza and League of United Latin American Citizens. Oh yeah, and she’s a Christian.

And the differences? Well, Arellano was not an American citizen or a permanent resident. She lived in a church in Chicago and was arrested in Los Angeles, cities with sizable populations of immigrants and Mexicans. Both cities are also more liberal when it comes to immigration policy which is much different than Montgomery, Alabama. Oh yeah, and she’s not black.

Is the law Arellano’s defying unjust? I say yes, but you all know where I stand on the immigration debate.

9 thoughts on “The new pink, on Elvira Arellano

  1. lo

    Her arrest was handled in a cowardly manner: Shame on them. Chicago proved to be a better host.

    What does it say about LA with a Chicano Mayor, and large Latino population, when that the Feds could still gain the information and cooperation to have her detained and deported?

    Yes, immigration needs more voices, more education, more courage to take on the anti immigrant sentiments that make less and less sense.

    I don’t know your stand on immigration, but I hope you are in favor. Although I would just prefer open borders or amnesty.

    In San Francisco the Mayor will not cooperate with the Feds: It is known as a Sanctuary City. Why not push for your mayor to do the same?

    Reply
  2. HispanicPundit

    Question: What would your reaction be to someone who argued that the free exchange of goods between consenting parties – regardless of race, religion, gender, or national borders – is a civil right and the government has no moral authority to block such actions? A person who argued that all barriers to free trade – be they quotas, tariffs, or taxes – be permanently abolished…regardless of the ‘national interest’? The arguments in favor of such a (radical?) belief are very similar, some would say identical, to arguments in favor of immigration. Libertarians, and especially libertarians of the anarcho-capitalist flavor, would whole heartedly agree with both views.

    Of course I, being on the economic right, sympathizes with both views but the average joe certainly does not. Is immigration such an overwhelming right that, for example, its affect on the environment is irrelevant? Or how about how it undermines unions? What about its affect on low income blacks, is that not a ‘national interest’? Or what about national security concerns? What about concerns about what more immigration would do to the size of government (see here)? I would argue in favor of immigration in each of these cases but that’s because, again, my biases fall on the economic right.

    I fear that the average joe, seeing the immigration debate argued from that of rights now, and more recently being compared to the civil rights cause, is going to get turned off. Such moral bombastic language that belittles the arguments against immigration is deeply offensive to many and makes a lot of people who were initially sympathetic to immigration or even in favor of it look at the issue very differently.

    In other words, my quibble with your post is not with the ends but with the means – a means that may, I fear, turn more people against immigration than for it. Look at what the immigration marches did to the immigration cause – they turned an initially sympathetic president and citizenry enough against immigration that you can’t even get the previous or the current (under a new political party) congress to pass any meaningful pro-immigration bills. The only immigration legislation that will pass are those against immigration, not in favor. And this despite the fact that Bush campaigned on a pro-immigration platform and as recently as the 1980′s you got the same political make up – also with a Republican President (Reagan) and a Democrat congress – to pass one of the most sweeping pro-immigration bill’s in the 20th century (giving, btw, most of my family its citizenship).

    Comparing todays immigration struggles with the struggles of civil rights activists in the 60′s may be a good rhetorical argument but it does harm, IMHO, to the immigration cause as a whole.

    Reply
  3. Julissa

    Elvira displayed strength, courage, and compassion throughout her ordeal. Although she knew for some time her outcome was not going to be positive she was a voice for all of those immigrants who share similar stories. While I cannot compare Elvira to Rosa Parks. I will say that Elvira has done her part to ignite the movement!

    Reply
  4. Rio

    Todos somos Rosa!

    Actually there was a similar debate here in San Francisco when a local Latino gallery, Galeria de la Raza, put up a mural that simply read “Immigrant is the new Black”. It upset and offended myself and a lot of other politically active Latinos to no end. It got hit so many times with graffiti that the gallery just decided to leave it as is. This has all taken place within the last 3 weeks.

    On a lighter note, I dig the guy in the cowboy shirt. Now THAT’S how you rock a panza and a jheri curl mullet. Ajua!

    Reply
  5. Momo

    I may be completely biased in my opinion, but speaking from a social work professional standpoint that has become my identity, YES this immigration law is unfair and unethical. Arellano’s situation is an example of what many undocumented immigrants go through. YES, she came illegally and stayed here illegally; YES, she may work for lower wages than unions can afford to compete with… but if she were given amnesty for working so long for those piss poor wages that make it affordable for those slave-driving factories to continue production in the U.S. rather than go to China, India, even Mexico, then, she wouldn’t have to live this way any more. If she were able to have legal status, she may not continue to work in those kinds of jobs that undermine human/worker rights. Another reason why the current set of immigration laws is unfair is that it shows no respect for the development and prosperity of the new American family. Let us not forget that all Americans have origins outside this land yet came together for the same thing—a chance at having success in life for ourselves and our posterity. Tearing families apart by sending mom to another country and carelessly overlooking and neglecting the inalienable rights of a child, the most vulnerable of populations, as a citizen and as a human being… rights to family. Shame on Los Angeles. What can we do now?

    Reply
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