Enough is enough: Time to get serious on immigration

Mike Gallagher

11/16/2006 11:36:36 AM - Mike Gallagher

Nothing demonstrates the absurdity of the illegal immigration crisis we face in the United States better than the story of a single mother from Mexico and her 7-year-old son, a little boy named Saul Arellano, who has been turned into a pawn by activists who desperately want to reward lawbreakers who have barged into our country under the guise of "seeking a better life" for themselves.

In 1997, Elvira Arellano attempted to sneak across the border from Mexico and gain entry into the United States. She was turned away.

A few days later, she again broke the law and sneaked in, this time successfully. A few years later, she was arrested in Chicago and convicted of using a false Social Security number. She was given three years' probation and then ordered to appear at the immigration office in Chicago.

Instead of abiding by the laws of the land, she sought — and received — "sanctuary" at a storefront Methodist church in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago. As if this soap opera wasn't dramatic enough, she gave birth in 1999 to a boy named Saul.

So that's how Elvira and her son came to live in a second-floor bedroom at the church, complete with Saul's toys and pet dog, Daisy, to keep them happy. After all, who wants to watch the image of immigration officials knocking down the door of a Methodist church in order to deport these folks on the evening news?

But Elvira Arellano wasn't content with just being holed up in the church. It was time to pull out all the stops and send her 7-year-old child to Mexico to appear before the country's congress so he could tell his tragic tale.

Saulito ("Little Saul") delighted the 500-member Chamber of Deputies in Mexico. Clutching a disposable camera, the little tyke read his lines perfectly.

"I want [Mexico's congress] to tell President Bush to end the deportations so that my mother and the families can stay together in the United States," he said.

Quite a vocabulary for a 7-year-old. Mexico's congress certainly didn't need much convincing to vote unanimously to ask the U.S. government not to deport his mother.

Isn't that a gracious thing for the Mexican congress to do? It isn't often we get the chance for a country like Mexico to tell us what to do when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration.

Obviously, Mexico's own government isn't too fond of wanting people like Elvira and Saul Arellano to stay in their own country, so they need to tell us to waive any applicable laws and accept them into the United States, whether we like it or not.

Well, many of us don't like it. We're getting tired of Mexico's arrogance. We're fed up with the game that's played in referring to illegals as "undocumented" immigrants — as if somehow a woman who was convicted of stealing someone else's Social Security number just somehow misplaced her papers.

I suppose I'm swimming upstream here, but I don't believe the midterm election victory for Democrats was because of the war on terror or even a few congressional scandals.

Every day on my radio show, I hear from callers from all walks of life from all over America who are positively outraged at the way our country has allowed illegal immigrants to walk all over our laws and siphon free health care, jobs and education like someone sucking on a hose and stealing gasoline from a car.

If Elvira Arellano wants to raise her child, there is a huge country waiting for her where she could do it. It's called Mexico. And if she decides she doesn't like Mexico and prefers to live here in the United States, she has a couple of viable options. She can either immigrate here legally, like millions have done, or she can accept the fact that she is a resident of Mexico and that's that.

I spoke to the pastor of the church that is providing Elvira with sanctuary on my radio show this week, a man named the Rev. Walter Coleman. Coleman feels passionately that illegals should be granted legal status and that we just should just "leave these poor people alone." He also admitted to me that it was his church that had paid the transportation costs for little Saul to travel to Mexico to pull off the publicity stunt.

Imagine how many starving people could have been fed with the cost of Saulito's airplane ticket.

Just like Elian Gonzales was scooped up and sent packing to Cuba, U.S. officials should march into the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago and send Elvira and Saul Arellano back to Mexico. <>

Under U.S. law, there is no right to sanctuary in a U.S. church. And after the officials deport the Arellanos, they should arrest Coleman and charge him with harboring a fugitive.

It's time to stop the bleeding, secure the borders, and start getting tough on illegal immigration.

Let's start with a storefront church in Chicago.