The Mexican Rosa Parks?

Larry Elder

8/30/2007 12:01:00 AM - Larry Elder

Is Elvira Arellano -- the recently deported Mexican illegal alien -- the new Rosa Parks?

Some of her supporters describe her this way. But Arellano's credentials as a "role model," to say the least, fall short. Indeed, even some "immigrant rights activists" find the comparison embarrassing. A check of the websites of The National Council of La Raza and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund finds no statement one way or the other concerning Arellano.

Rosa Parks, a black woman, was born in 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama -- that is, Tuskegee, Alabama, United States of America. She thus entered life as an American citizen, but was denied the rights and protections afforded by the United States Constitution. Arellano sneaked into the country, not once, but twice, and defied a deportation order by receiving "sanctuary" for over a year in a Chicago church.

Arellano gave birth on American soil to a son, now 8. But she does not speak of his father. She condemns the U.S. government for "breaking up" her family because Saul (her son) remains in the United States while she reportedly lives with friends in Tijuana, Mexico. But Arellano chose to leave Saul behind, claiming that his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder requires better medical care than provided in Mexico.

Arellano's justification for illegally crossing the border? "I came to the United States to work. I came because of what NAFTA and other U.S. economic policies have done to my country, in which I could no longer find work that paid a living wage." After her deportation to Mexico, she said, "The United States is the one who broke the law first. By letting people cross over [the border] without documents. By letting people pay taxes. . . . "

That's a new one.

As for the assertion that America "broke the law first," Arellano makes an interesting claim: the failure of America to effectively police its borders constitutes a criminal act that morally and legally justifies illegal entry into America. Arellano's insulting demands simply harden hearts. Instead of displaying even a hint of gratitude, she lectures American citizens that her son has the same rights as President Bush. Who said he didn't?

About NAFTA, most economists agree that it lessened the severity of several unrelated economic downturns, and, overall, improved the economic conditions in Mexico. A recent Investor's Business Daily editorial says that, post-NAFTA, "Mexicans find they have legitimate, legal jobs to do in Mexico . . . with the average Mexican income now at $7,000 -- the highest in Latin America -- average workers can earn nearly as much there as here."

The Mexican Senate greeted Arellano like a conquering hero. They immediately passed a measure demanding that the president of Mexico send a diplomatic note to President George W. Bush, protesting the deportation. Also, they promised to provide a scholarship for Arellano's son. (To be used where?)

Compared with nearly all European nations, America stands virtually alone in allowing children born on her soil by those who enter the country illegally to become citizens. Her son's status entitles him to all manner of state and federal programs, including taxpayer-provided K-12 education, and health and welfare benefits.

Despite the legal right to enter the Chicago church that provided "sanctuary" for Arellano for a year, authorities refused to enter. Immigration arrested her only after she left the church and after publicly announcing her intention to go to Washington and campaign for "immigrant rights." In Mexico, the law considers illegal entry a "crime punishable by up to 2 years in jail." Mexico forbids any illegal alien from participating in any sort of public demonstration. Years of corruption and bad economic policies have made poor a country rich in natural resources. Yet Arellano says nothing about Mexico, while blaming America for her "plight."

Some of us supported President Bush's approach for "comprehensive immigration reform" -- legalizing the status of most of those here illegally; a temporary worker program to take pressure off the border and especially to provide workers for industries like agriculture; a pathway to citizenship, providing applicants meet certain criteria; and an end to chain migration (the practice of allowing citizens to sponsor relatives for admittance, beyond spouses and minor children). It also makes sense to withhold federal funds from local law enforcement if they refuse to notify Immigration of the status of arrested illegal aliens. For those who enter the country illegally, the 14th Amendment should be amended to prevent so-called "anchor babies." We can then direct the finite resources of government to locating and expelling dangerous aliens. This makes political and practical sense.

Chest-thumping aliens like Arellano simply undermine their own cause.