By now you should know that 31 year old single Mexican mami Elvira Arellano has been inside Aldalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago with her 7 year old son for three days now. She is not keeping her promise to a santo. she is keeping her promise to her child that she will stay with him and be a mami and confronting the U.S. government that seeks to deport her. Her son Saul was born in the United States and because of that is a U.S. citizen. Earlier this week Elvira was ordered to appear at an immigration office but instead she invoked an old school idea, taken by many activists before her, that churches are sanctuaries and went inside with her child. Elvira knows what’s up. She’s the President of United Latino Family, which lobbies for families that could be split by deportation. She is now one of those families.
The Feds have said that Elvira being inside a church doesn’t really protect her and that they could go inside the church at any time to enforce their deportation order. We will all have to wait and see if they will dare. In the meantime however, it is interesting to analyze the different ways the media is covering the going ons, especially the English language media. Many have chosen to use the adjective “illegal” to modify Elvira. The Washington Times goes so far as to call Elvira an “Illegal Alien” in it’s headline. Two news outlets, KVOA News 4 out of Arizona and the Chicago Sun-Times, focus not on Elvira the woman but on her actions, calling her an “activist”. Spanish language media chooses to call her undocumented, label her by her nationality, or her maternal status (no doubt invoking a linkage between her and the ultimate mujer to many Latinos – la Virgincita herself).
Regardless of what adjective is used to label Elvira Arellano, all eyes should be on Chicago and those that are in the Chicago area should say presente to bear witness to what’s going down and what will come.