A year and a day after my first post about her, after various sick-making child-exploitation photo ops involving her young son at the White House and before the Mexican legislature, Chertoff finally decided to do his job. Sort of:
An immigration activist who sought refuge inside a Chicago church for a year was arrested in Los Angeles this afternoon after taking her campaign on the road.
Elvira Arellano was arrested about 4:15 p.m. Chicago time by law-enforcement officials after leaving Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in downtown Los Angeles, said Emma Lozano, an adviser who was there during the arrest.
After talking to news media inside the church, Arellano and her supporters got into their van to head north to San Jose, where she was scheduled to speak at another church, Lozano said. Moments after they entered the van, an unmarked vehicle stopped them.
The driver of Arellano’s van, Roberto Lopez, poked his head out because he wanted to see why they were being blocked. Several other unmarked vehicles surrounded their van.
Why do I say “sort of”? Because the church she’s been living in for the past year is in Chicago, not L.A. She left the building a few days ago for the coast, ostensibly to attend an immigration rally there (which she ended up not attending), and the feds evidently just … let her go, without interfering. As it turns out, she’d already lined up a new church to give her sanctuary in L.A. (“sanctuary” being an archaic common law concept that doesn’t exist under American law and would be grossly unconstitutional if it did, of course). I wonder if the feds got caught flat-footed on her new plans and swooped in when they did to avoid having to arrest her inside the church.
Exit question: Why now? Exit answer, as provided by Kaus: To make sure the ballyhooed immigration crackdown gets the worst press possible.
Update: Amazing how efficiently the immigration system works when it wants to. Your anti-assimilationist quote of the day:
“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.”
Meanwhile, an interesting backlash among illegals:
By Sunday afternoon, [Spanish-language radio host Javier] Salas was already on radio talking about the arrest, and callers were weighing in too.
Callers were “saying that she was traveling to Los Angeles and around the United States, she would provoke [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and the anti-immigrant groups,” he said. “There would be checkpoints everywhere.”
Salas questioned why it appeared that mainstream media make Arellano out to be the face of undocumented immigrants, while her actions have exacerbated the animosity toward them.
“She wasn’t down to earth,” he said, adding that Arellano acted entitled to rights “when there’s thousands and thousands of people in the same situation.”
“She made everything worse,” Salas said. “She’s not a face of the immigrants. My family without papers, she doesn’t represent them.”
She’s in Tijuana now so it’ll be easy to slip back in, but once she does the media’s going to cover it and that’s not the type of case study on border enforcement that the “undocumented community” is keen to have. I’m sure most of them are begging her to stay put, but her son’s here and she wanted to attend a vigil in D.C. on September 12 so who knows if she’ll listen?
What a moment if she turns up there next month to laugh in Chertoff’s face. Viva el crackdown!