suntimes
DISRUPTIVE 
Weather Updates

Immigration activist Arellano returns to Chicago

FILE - This March 18 2014 file phoshows ElvirArellano waiting enter inUnited States TijuanMexico. Arellano Mexican activist who took sanctuary

FILE - This March 18, 2014 file photo shows Elvira Arellano waiting to enter into the United States in Tijuana, Mexico. Arellano, a Mexican activist who took sanctuary at a Chicago church for a year to protest her deportation, has returned, Sunday, March 23, 2014. She is protesting the separation of families through deportation. (AP Photo/Alex Cossio, file)

storyidforme: 63957187
tmspicid: 22949186
fileheaderid: 11134843

Updated: April 25, 2014 6:27AM



Eight years after she captured the nation’s attention by holing up in a Humboldt Park church to escape deportation, Elvira Arellano is back in Chicago, at the same church.

On Sunday she again took up residence at Adalberto United Methodist Church, 2176 W. Division St. where she first took sanctuary in 2006.

She again hopes to refocus attention on changing immigration laws to ease the plight of families who are torn apart by deportation.

This time, circumstances are different. She is free to come and go, at least temporarily, without fear of being detained for being here illegally.

Arellano, was part of a group of activists who were detained while trying to enter the United States from Mexico last week.

“They walked through a legal crossing point where border patrol detained everyone,” said her attorney, Chris Bergin. “She was carrying her four-month-old son. That probably factored into why they didn’t want to hold her in jail for too long. But I also imagine there was pressure from Washington DC, because her case was, and still is, high profile,” Bergin said.

Arellano, 39, was released from custody and allowed to return to Chicago to await a hearing where she will be allowed to plead her case as to why she should be allowed to stay in the United States. Bergin said she plans to apply for political asylum or a humanitarian visa. “She’s been receiving death threats in Mexico because of her human-rights work there,” Bergin said.

Arellano arrived in Chicago via Midway airport Sunday morning with her sons: a teenager who is a U.S. citizen and a Mexico-born baby.

Reached Sunday night, Arellano, who will be staying at the church indefinitely, said she planned to attend an immigration rally being planned this week in downtown Chicago. She also said she planned to try to find a job and get her teenage son back in school as soon as possible.

“I want to continue to learn English and find a job, any job,” Arellano said through a translator.

Arellano is protesting the separation of families through deportation. She wants President Barack Obama to extend deferments he gave, under the DREAM Act, to children and parents of U.S. citizen children.

After taking sanctuary at the Chicago church she fled to California in 2007 and was deported to Mexico. She has had a federal deportation order against her since 2002. She was first deported from the United States in 1997 after attempting to cross the border with fake papers. She illegally re-entered the country and was arrested in December 2002 while working at O’Hare International Airport under a false Social Security number.

Contributing: Associated Press

Email: mdudek@suntimes.com

Twitter: @mitchdudek



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.