I must admit: I am angry. I try not to be angry. After all, I work in Washington. Most everything that happens here could make you angry. If I wanted to think about it I could be in a state of rage over what is being done to our country. But I try not to let it get to me. Otherwise I could not be useful to my family or my church or the cause.
However, this story made me angry and I am still angry. The story revolves around 31-year old Elvira Arellano. It seems this young lady came here from Mexico but was deported. Soon thereafter she returned to the United States. She had a son here who, by virtue of his birthplace, is an American citizen. Authorities caught up with her as she used a fake Social Security card and worked at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. It gives one a lot of confidence that she could get by with working at O'Hare for a prolonged period of time before they nabbed her. You have to wonder who else is working at our major airports and is in a position to sabotage air travel. But that isn't what made me angry. What got to me is that Ms. Arellano, who is about to be deported again, has holed herself up at the Aldaberto United Methodist Church. She has the support of the Pastor, the Reverend Walter Coleman, and many in the church. They have vowed to feed and clothe her and her son in perpetuity if necessary to avoid her deportation. "She is the voice of the undocumented," one of the parishioners said. Really? Since when are the undocumented entitled to a spokesman?
The Pastor has said that she should not be required to chose between living with her son or removing him from home. She defiantly has told the Federal authorities in so many words, "I dare you to come and get me." A spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Gail Montenegro, has made it clear that the authorities have the right to come and get her even though she is in a church. But a professor at Pepperdine University said, "It would look very bad."
She is gambling that authorities are fearful of storming the church. They recall what happened under Attorney General Janet Reno when she invaded the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. And they recall how people recoiled when Elian Gonzales was snatched away from his relatives in Miami in the middle of the night and returned to his father and the Communist regime his father supported. I never thought my government would do something like that and the picture of the frightened little boy taken at gunpoint made an indelible impression on me.
What is to be done? If the church is so concerned about Ms. Arellano it should set her and her son up in Mexico with a monthly allowance so that she would not need to work. She could be a stay-at-home mom. They could, in effect, adopt her. A church that large can no doubt take up a second collection and raise sufficient money to support that little family. If the collection would not do it then the Church could dip into regular funds or sponsor events with all of the proceeds going to that family. When the son is 18 he could choose to come to the United States. Even though I believe the law ought not grant automatic citizenship to everyone born here, nevertheless that is the law now, so when her son comes of age he can return here for higher education or work and earn money to send to his mother. But no, they want everyone in the Church to approve defiance of the law. They do not care what our laws are.
I well can understand the reluctance of the authorities to invade a church. The images worldwide would be frightful. On the other hand, maybe by doing so authorities would be taken more seriously on the immigration front. They would have a one- or at most two-day story if they went in and got her. It would then preclude many other people from doing the same thing. The Pastor claims that he is only following the ancient Christian tradition of sheltering those who require it. There is quite a difference between sheltering a Christian from the evil Roman Emperor Diocletian and some one who has broken legitimate laws, passed by legitimate legislatures which represent the rule of the people.
That this woman, who has no right here, would defy our law as she has and then claim to speak for the undocumented is what has made me furious. We do not have a government tough enough to deal with these people. How many times have I heard, "You can't send them all back." Even the Pence-Hutchison Immigration Bill envisions securing the border before anything else is done. Under the terms of that bill no one who openly is breaking the law could continue to remain here. I have had it with these people. They get more arrogant by the hour. They also are an insult to the thousands of Hispanics who are here legally and who are given a bad name because of what illegal aliens do. Other stories are getting more attention at the moment. Now is the time for the authorities to go in and take her. There should be no notice. They should figure when she is least guarded by parishioners and they should just do the job.
Yes, there is a Christian tradition of offering shelter to those who are to be mistreated or killed by their own governments. We offered shelter to many who were sought by the Communists. The most famous of these was Joseph Cardinal Mindzenty of Hungary. He had supported the rebellion against the Communists in 1956. When it became clear that we were not going to lift a finger to help those who rose up against the brutal state, he fled to the United States Embassy, in which he lived for the better part of two decades. In that case it was not a church but rather our Government which sheltered him from the Communists. He would have been killed if he had not sought refuge at the Embassy. And yes, during the Civil War, the church played a very active role in sheltering people via the Underground Railroad. There were slaves seeking freedom-wholly different than Ms. Arellano would experience if turned over to the Mexican authorities. If she could show the Mexican Government that U.S. dollars would be flowing her way each month they would welcome her back. No question asked. I understand the concern for the boy. He should be with his mother. It is absurd to speak of leaving the boy here while she is deported. The boy needs his mother, even if she is an activist who is using him as a prop.
Again I say that it is right for the Church to be concerned about mother and son. It would not require a lot of money to support them comfortably for eleven years until the son becomes of age. If they really were invoking Christian charity that is what they would do. Instead the Church is in the middle of a political campaign of sorts to try to bring about amnesty. That is fine if the Church wishes to take that position. It is entitled to interpret Scripture. The only legitimate way those parishioners could obtain what they want would be to work and elect enough liberals to overturn our immigration laws. But that would take too much work and, besides, the illegal aliens could not vote. Sorry about that. Ms.Arellano will not get what she wants by sitting in church day and night. Either authorities will make an example of her and come and get her or the Church will tire of her and her son and quietly tell her to make other arrangements. Either way, I hope she and her son enjoy his growing up years in Mexico.