Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Because You're Breaking the Law

Activist defies deportation, takes refuge in church
Elvira Arellano, who became a national spokeswoman for families facing deportation, had been ordered to report to the Department of Homeland Security by 9 a.m. Tuesday. Instead Arellano took refuge in a West Side church.
I saw a report about her on CNN today. They interviewed Bishop Minerva Carcaño, of the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Carcano took up the cause of Ms. Arellano, while stating that UMC was taking a doctrinal stand against the immigration policies of the United States.

This is a categorically false statement, as the UMC does not defy established legal immigration procedures. Bishop Carcaño has decided arbitrarily to establish doctrine fo the UMC. I hope something is done about her position through the UMC heirarchy.

Meanwhile, Ms. Arrelano pleads her case in the papers...

She appeared at the pulpit of Adalberto United Methodist Church in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, vowing before dozens of supporters that she would not return to Mexico "like a coward." She said she would stay in the church indefinitely with her 7-year-old son, a U.S. citizen.

Actually, you are showing your cowardice in front of your son anyway, because you're breaking the law.

This morning, Arellano appeared in front of the church and said she doesn't want to leave her son. She said she is not a terrorist and only wants to protect his rights.

But you have no real rights in this case because you are in the country illegaly and you're breaking the law.

"She is an active and engaged member of our community. She is a great mother. She is the type of person we want—and need—in our community," Gutierrez wrote.

Except that she is breaking the law.

Her supporters invoked the notion that lawbreakers can be protected in a house of worship, a tradition that dates to the ancient Greeks.
This tradition was used to protect enemies of the state who feared for their lives from the state. The church was used as a humanitarian sanctuary until more peaceful resolutions could be worked out (if at all). In Europe, the Catholic Church was almost or as respected and feared as the government and many officials didn't dare violate the sanctity of its walls for fear of incurring the wrath of the Pope. That particulat political dynamic between church and state doesn't really exist anymore - especially in America - so invoking it as a proud traditional practice sounds almost foolish in this way. Almost like someone claiming squatters rights or extolling the virtues of droit de seigneur...

"If Homeland Security chooses to send agents to a holy place, I would know that God wants me to serve as an example of the hatred and hypocrisy of the current administration," Arellano said.
And, of course, eventually you get to the money quote, where the "hyprocrisy of the current administration", which naively seems to play well these days with 50% of the nation, will rally anyone who espouses that belief to their cause. Regardless of whether it's immigration, abortion, taxes, weather, or war, blaming the government is a typical ploy of those who haven't a real leg to stand on.

Legal experts agree that a church offers no formal protection, but they say it could put the government in an awkward position.

"Just because you are in a church doesn't mean you are less deportable in a legal sense," said Joel Fetzer, associate professor of political science at Pepperdine University. "But in a political sense, it looks very bad to be hauling people out of churches as the camera rolls."
And of course the government has to start worrying about PR when arresting people who've broken the law. Not just clearly and blatantly broken the law but actively resisted such arrest and rallied others to aid and abet their flight. I agree it doesn't look great to arrest someone in a church, but legally it cannot nor should not offer such protection.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other members of the state's congressional delegation urged homeland security officials to let Arellano remain in Chicago to care for her son, Saul, born in the U.S., who has ADHD and other health problems. She was granted three stays of deportation starting in 2003.

But some of those sympathetic to her cause, including Durbin, suggested that another stay of deportation would be harder to justify because her son's condition has improved. Immigration officials say that without a U.S. senator's request, they cannot grant such a stay.
If she were in the middle of normal naturalization proceedings, and due to the fact she was raising a young child I would normally be in favor of some leniency. But she'd already been deported once and entered illegally again. The health of the son is no longer a burning issue. She has publicly flaunted the laws of the country and cannot be afforded any more mercy - because she's breaking the law.

Arellano's supporters say that if agents do try to make an arrest at the church, they want it to be a chaotic scene, much like the 2000 raid in which federal agents seized 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to return him to his father in Cuba.
In which case all involved should be arrested and charged with obstruction of justice. Because (say it with me) they're breaking the law.

As her backers offered hugs and kind words, Arellano said she is prepared to pay the consequences of defying the U.S. government.

"If I have to spend 10 or 20 years in jail, I don't care," Arellano insisted. "Because I am going to fight."
Finally we see where her priorities truly lie - herself, and only herself. If she cared about her son as she claims to, she would not allow him to grow up with a mother behind bars. She would not allow him to grow up seeing his mother become a martyr and political symbol for nonexistent government persecution. She would not allow him to see her set an example of selfishness and criminality.

She would not allow him to see her break the law.

There is no moral, legal or ethical stance for the vast majority of illegal immigrants in this country to take. Regardless of their integration into the workforce, regardless of our tradition of open-arms immigration, regardless of the economic status of the homes they leave behind... There is a process for becoming a naturalized citizen or legal resident of the United States and those who openly decide to ignore that process - however long it may take - are breaking the law of the United States and must pay the penalties prescribed by such laws.

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