Another woman facing deportation has taken shelter at the Adalberto United Methodist Church on Division Street in Chicago. Last year, Elvira Arellano spend many months there with her eight-year-old son (a US citizen) to dramatize the way deportations affect families. ICE avoided the bad press of raiding a church, but snapped her up and deported her as soon as she went to speak at a public event in LA.
Flor Crisostomo does not have her children with her in the church. They are in Mexico, where she could not find work; she left them so she could provide for them.
In July 2000 she paid a smuggler to take her across the border and spent three days lost in desert-like conditions before making it to Los Angeles, she said. A month later she arrived in Chicago, where she worked 10 hours a day, six days a week in an IFCO Systems site that made packing materials.
By last year, she earned about $360 a week, sending $300 to her children for food, clothes and school books, she said. To keep her own costs down, she lived with four other women in a two-bedroom Chicago apartment.
“My children’s lives improve a lot as a result,” she said. “It wasn’t luxury. But it meant they could survive.”
The New Sanctuary Movement (like the old one during the Reagan years) is a church-based attempt to help people who are caught in a huge problem that politicians by and large don’t want to touch, apart from general platitudes. Whatever they say, they’ll lose somebody’s votes. So it goes. And pressure groups will tell Homeland Security to walk their secure borders talk by raiding the church.
Meanwhile, you’ll be hard put to find any subject on which comments at newspapers and other web sites are more polarized. (So far the ones at Chicagoist aren’t quite as full of sputtering, inarticulate rage as others.) I don’t recall any issue in recent years attracting such deep-seated, personal anger as this one, and it frightens me.