Illegals activist deported

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — An illegal alien who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year to avoid being separated from her U.S.-born son has been deported to Mexico, the church’s pastor said.

Elvira Arellano became an activist and a national symbol for illegal-alien parents as she defied her deportation order and spoke out from her religious sanctuary. She held a press conference last week to announce that she would finally leave the church to try to lobby U.S. lawmakers for change.

She had just spoken at a Los Angeles rally when she was arrested Sunday outside Our Lady Queen of Angels Church and deported, said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano had been living.

“She is free and in Tijuana,” said Mr. Coleman, who said he spoke to her on the phone. “She is in good spirits. She is ready to continue the struggle against the separation of families from the other side of the border.”

Her 8-year-old son, Saul, is now living with Mr. Coleman’s family. During a press conference in Los Angeles after Arellano’s arrest, the boy hid behind the pastor’s wife and wiped away tears.

Arellano had said on Saturday that she was not afraid of being taken into custody by immigration agents.

“From the time I took sanctuary, the possibility has existed that they arrest me in the place and time they want,” she said in Spanish. “I only have two choices. I either go to my country, Mexico, or stay and keep fighting. I decided to stay and fight.”

Arellano, 32, arrived in Washington state illegally in 1997. She was deported to Mexico shortly afterward, but returned and moved to Illinois in 2000, taking a job cleaning planes at O’Hare International Airport.

She was arrested in 2002 at O’Hare and convicted of working under a false Social Security number. She was to surrender to authorities last August but instead sought refuge at the church on Aug. 15, 2006.

She had not left the church property until she decided to travel by car to Los Angeles, Mr. Coleman said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed her arrest and said she was deported Sunday night through San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing. The discussions there included Luis Cabrera, Mexico’s general consul in San Diego, and Robin Baker, ICE’s director of detention and removals in San Diego, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said.

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