Saturday, September 29, 2007

Elvira Arellano, a Latina Civil Rights Leader, is Our Rosa Parks

Here is the article that I mentioned in class that refers to Elvira Arellano as Latinos' Rosa Parks. -Angela

Elvira Arellano, a Latina Civil Rights Leader, is Our Rosa Parks

Sept 12, National Day of Action

A Commentary for KPFK-Radio Pacifica

By Javier Rodriguez Sept. 19, 2007

On September 12, 2007, in a reported 100 cities in the country, the immigrant rights movement staged a successful National Day of Action. It was initially convened by deported leader Elvira Arellano before leaving the protection of her sanctuary church in Chicago, again during her brief stay in LA and finally from the border city of Tijuana, after her 8 hour record breaking deportation. Her call was ambitious, it included NO WORK, NO BUYING, NO SCHOOL, NO SELLING, but our Rosa Parks layed all out. She traded the Christian bars of sanctuary and the unity of her family for her freedom and the ultimate tool of the empire against undocumented immigrants, the fascist boot of deportation. Like Rosa Parks, she defied an unjust and inhuman law. She wanted to motivate and spark the new civil rights movement in the US. The one that last year made history by defeating the Sensenbrenner Bill and has brought back May 1, International Workers Day to the US, its birthplace. The one also
fighting for the empowerment of 13 million plus immigrants, including the estimated 3.3 million children born in the US to 600,000 women under orders of deportation. These are the new slaves of modern America. They are part of 250 million immigrants displaced from their countries by transnational globalization spread out throughout the planet. They are part of the multifaceted neo liberalist strategy designed by an incipient transnational capitalist class, which in conjunction with local governments and ruling classes, brutally and savagely exploit their homelands creating then the rampant misery which forces them to leave their nations and separate their families.

Her arrest was no different than the thousand of others made by ICE, the immigration and Customs Enforcement, against immigrants. Under the veil of seeking criminals, they enter our communities early in the mornings and terrorize families, including children, marking them for life and then take away the collateral damage, workers. This is the campaign of terror unleashed by the Bush administration in response to the mega marches of March 25 and the May 1 Great American Boycott. Like Rosa parks and her working group planned to defy sitting in back of the bus, Elvira Arellano and her Chicago group also planned to defy arrest and deportation. And she sparked the movement. She arrived with her son Saul to Los Angeles on August 18, the same day five thousand people marched again for immigrant rights. Within 3 hours of her arrest on the following day, we responded and announced to the world she had been arrested and her human rights violated. Three hours later we held a vigil
and an agreement was reached to convene all forces and the following day, the Unity Coalition "Todos Somos Elvira y Saulito" was born. Three and half days after, on August 25, 10,000 people marched in LA demanding her return to the US and pledged to continue the fight for a humane immigration reform.

On Sept 12, press conferences, protests, vigils and forums were held throughout the country and a national delegation arrived in Washington. Unbelievably, we marched in the halls of congress, militantly close to two hundred teen agers and activists chanted inside the offices of Speaker NancyPelosi, "Born in the USA, don't take my mommy and daddy away". Additionally, the Los Angeles delegation conveyed an unequivocal message to Cong Luis Gutierrez and the democrats: we want an inclusive legalization program similar to the 1986 IRCA Immigration with a one year wait for permanent residency, not fourteen years.

The historical struggle continues, Elvira and Saulito are are now in Michoacan. Saul is in School. As I did up until the age of twelve, he will learn schooled Spanish and of course the history of his mother's homeland, Mexico, my country, my history.

Javier Rodriguez, a journalist, is a media and a political strategist in Los Angeles.
This edited commentary was aired on Evening News-on September 19, 2007. Look for it on the net.

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