Deported Immigration Activist Reminds Obama of Plight of the Children of the Undocumented

MEXICO CITY — As President Barack Obama arrived in Mexico City Thursday, a small group of immigration activists demonstrated at the U.S. Embassy on leafy Paseo de la Reforma, close to downtown. They were there to demand comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. and a stop to immigration raids and deportations.

Children who are U.S. citizens but now live in Mexico because of their parents’ deportations were there. After President Obama said at his speech in the Democratic National Convention last year that no one “benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child,” activists had hoped he would stop deportations that break up families with an executive order. That has not happened.

The Pew Hispanic Center said this week that 73% of the children of undocumented immigrants were born in the U.S. and are U.S. citizens.

One of the protesters present was Elvira Arellano, who became known nationwide when she fought a deportation order in 2006 by seeking sanctuary inside a Chicago church. Arellano was finally deported in 2007 and now runs a shelter for deported women and children in Tijuana while continuing to work for immigration reform from the other side of the border. She came to the embassy with her 10-year-old son, Saúl, a U.S. citizen.

You can watch a slideshow on the Arellanos below or, for higher quality, go to our YouTube channel.

11 comments

  1. Irene (legal immigrant)

    Why is living in USA demanded as a right? Elvira has a country to live in. If I was not allowed to enter US I would have stayed in my home country. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege and it can’t be abused. Having a child in the US doesn’t give anybody right to demand to be treated as if they haven’t broken laws.

  2. DAD77

    Last year, US customs officials apprehended 792,321 people who tried to get into the U.S. through the Southwest border.

    This number exceeds the entire population of states such as Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, and Alaska. Immigration reform has to start by enforcing the current US laws on immigration to the US.

    The number of illegal immigrates in the US exceeds the populations of 40 out of 50 states in the union. Reform has to come in following the law first. It is abuse by millions of immigrants.

    Elvira Arellano put her family in a really bad position. She needs to quit blaming the US. She was in the United States illegally. Then she had a child while here illegally. She has abused the laws of the US and then used the media, the church, and politians to cry for pity for her plight.

  3. Kim

    “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent & respectable Stranger, but the oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights & previleges.” George Washington address to Irish Immigrants Dec 2, 1783. Today’s economic problems are not created by immigrants but by the blind dog eat dog laws of International Finance Capitalism. I out streach my hand in solidarity with those who have come here from wherever to work here. Together we will defeat the Empire and open the road to building Socialism where the world’s productive forces will be used to meet human needs not CEO’s Profit Bonus plan.

  4. Marta

    Undocumented immigrants in the US pay taxes and have families, they are human beings. The blame on their situation has to lay on the 2 systems that exploit them. Their country of origin that by concentrating the wealth and power on the very few afford no opportunities to the many that struggle to make a decent living for their families and the host country that intentionally allowes the irregular immigration to come in so that they provide the labor force that their aging population wont and that take the low paying and hard menial jobs that the affluent no longer feel they should perform. Elvira is doing very well in Mexico and so is her son. The struggle is for the many that are terrorized by the inhuman raids and deportation were children are not taken into account by their country of birth. They have rights and their parents gave their share in work and taxes in the US. Many children do not want to leave the only country that they have ever known, they have their friends, their school,family and way of life there. Where are their rights?

  5. DAD77

    Incarcerations, medical care, education benefits for Illegal Aliens cost Americans $338.3 Billion yearly. Low-skill immigrant households received nearly three dollars in immediate benefits and services for each dollar in taxes paid. Similarly, low-skill immigrants increase poverty in the U.S. and impose a burden on taxpayers that should be avoided.

    The proportion of immigrant-headed households using at least one major welfare program is 24.5 percent compared to 16.3 percent for native households according to Center for Immigration studies.

  6. What about those millions of undocumented kids that are taken to the US as children by their parents, when they cannot reason the implications of immigration law, who then grow up to be contributing members of society as young adults only to find out that the country they thought was home wants to kick them out?

    Yes, regardless of how they ended up in the US (crossing the desert, using false documents, overstaying a visa, so on and so forth…), their parents did break the law. But why should the kids have to pay for the mistake of their parents? I don’t believe in amnesty, but there should be a legal channel for those who want to legalize to do so after living in the US after so many years, even if that means they have to leave the country temporarily and/or pay a fine. Barring them from re-entry is not the answer for ALL.

  7. DAD77

    It isn’t the child’s fault. However, the parents knew full well that they were doing wrong. If the children are given citizenship, then the child can automatically sponsor his parents. JACKPOT again for the parents.

    Is the US going to protect its borders and its citizens or are we going to wind up with a BILLION people by 2100?

  8. Why is the assumption that if Immigration reform were to happen (at best) or some kind of “pardon” issued to these kids that they would automatically be citizens? There are many tiers of legal presence in the US (i.e. refugee, visitor’s visa, legal permanent resident, and several others with citizenship being the highest tier of legal presence in the US). Those brought to the US by their parents shouldn’t automatically be granted citizenship; that further foments resentment and dissent from a large population in the US and explains the standpoint of posts such as yours DAD77 (which is valid). Because if they were granted automatic citizenship, we would end up at the door step of the problem that the video above illustrates and that brings us back to square one.

    Assuming a child is a citizen like the one highlighted in the video (without taking into account the many in their situation who have not been deported, decided to self-deport, or still waiting trial from immigration courts in the US), he/she still has to be 21 before they can sponsor their parent(s). That is many years of playing the waiting game and it’s still not guaranteed that the parent will be granted first the visa to enter, and second, the legal right to work in the US if they’re lucky–which is completely separate from actually being granted citizenship from sponsorship.

    Immigration (legal or illegal) will always be an issue the US will have to face. The government has the ability to have oversight of those who are actually being employed illegally by employers, it’s just not enforcing the sanctions and punishments on those who continue to hire them. Why? The convenience of cheap labor. Without the immigrant you or I cannot buy and eat that inexpensive apple we get at the store all year… but now that’s taking the issue away from what’s important, the kids…

  9. Sofie

    There are so many people out there who think immigration is such a black and white issue. You have to be more open minded and more intelligent than that.Yes, illegal immigrants have broken the laws and want to stay here. Let’s explore that. First of all, what makes some of you people think that a human being WANTS to be considered an “illegal alien”? What makes you think people want to move to a country they know nothing about where they will have to endure racism and judgment? Nobody wants that. People are forced to cross the border because they want opportunities that their own countries do not offer them. They want better lives for their children. They want to be able to feed their families. They don’t want to cause problems or hurt anyone. All they want is opportunity and better lives. Isn’t our country the land of opportunity? Everyone who is here is an immigrant and all of our ancestors came for the same reasons these poor people are here now. People seem to forget that. Elvira Arellano didn’t hurt anyone while she was here. She was a single mother doing the best she could for her son. If you were born in a country where a t-shirt cost the same as a paycheck and you couldn’t feed your kids, wouldn’t you guys try to get out of that country in search of something better? Or would you be stupid enough to stay there?

    Second of all, if the immigration system wasn’t broken, immigrants wouldn’t have to cross over illegally. Have you people looked up what hell immigrants have to go through to become legal residents??? It takes many, many years and costs a fortune. Many average Americans couldn’t even afford to pay that kind of money and you expect people from Mexico to be able to? They have to meet very specific criteria that is probably near impossible for some of them to meet. This doesn’t mean they are bad people or should not be here. This is extremely unfair. So of course people come here illegally they have no choice. Immigrants come here to work, illegal or not, there is no reason to look down on good, decent people. There is no excuse for it. America is supposed to be a Christian country and yet some of you support the separation of mother and child? How do you sleep at night? What do you teach your children when you can’t even be accepting of people who just need a little help? They do the best they can for their children and work harder than most people I know ever will. So what if illegal immigrants have children here? They are human beings too. Do they not have a right to fall in love and have a baby out of that love? Of course, they have that right! Some of you need to think before you speak. And grow a heart while you’re at it. All some of you talk about is money. That is so sad. Illegal immigrants pay taxes and maybe the government does spend extra money because of them but say what you want, illegal immigrants do more than their fair share for this country. They have as much of a right to live here as any of us. This country has become their home too. Illegal immigrants are human beings, they are not a separate category that deserves less respect . They have rights too and President Obama made a promise to these immigrants. A promise that I hope he will honor as the man of integrity that he seems to be. I will be praying for this cause and for some of you money obsessed people as well.

    Oh by the way…I liked how someone wrote (legal immigrant) on their name. As if you think that makes you better than anyone else or gives you the right to talk bad about those who are not here legally. Shouldn’t you support this cause because you are an immigrant? You should be ashamed of yourself.

    The immigration system has to be fixed and maybe amnesty is not the best answer, I agree with that. However, there needs to be a path for citizenship for people that have spent their lives here, stayed out of trouble, and have children who are committed to going to college. This is the only fair thing.

  10. Someone who says NO to IMMIGRATION!!!

    We should STOP and say NO to IMMIGRATION cuz our country is suffering enough cuz the IMMIGRANTS -both LEGAL & ILLEGAL, are stealing out jobs/opportunities. The president should first put the rights or our country men before others. STOP USING CHILDREN & MARRIAGES TO GET PAPERS!!! We feel the financial struggles of the world, but our countrymen are struggling, too and has more rights to job opportunities than IMMIGRANTS because this is our country. That is why we are where we’re at now cuz we keep giving our jobs to the IMMIGRANTS – both LEGAL & ILLEGAL ones. US… WAKE UP AND START PUTTING YOUR OWN PEOPLE FIRST BEFORE OTHERS!!!

  11. Zorro

    I just remind you that America doesn’t belong to you…

    You took America from Natives.

    Stop whining!

    You are complaining that illegals are stealing the country, you did the exact same thing to Indians.

    Where is your memory?

    You were illegals, took their land and you claim that you are “legals” now, so that means after a certain period of time, the citizenship is automatic…for you!

    Racists.Like it or not, that’s what you are: racist, extremist.

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