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by Elvira Arellano
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007 at 5:48 PM
For the last 15 days, I have maintained a vigil in prayer. I have consulted with spiritual leaders and with those who face the same situation I face. I have made my decision.
Today marks one year since I came to my church and took sanctuary, to live here and raise my U.S. citizen son in peaceful witness for justice First I'd like to thank my pastor and all those here and elsewhere who have wrapped their arms around me and are like sisters and brothers to me To all the thousands of women and men, youth and children, from all walks of life, who have been with me physically and spiritually, I thank you for your support You have allowed me to live in the United States and raise my son who is a U.S. citizen.
I do believe that the majority of the people of this country have come to believe that the law is broken, that it must be fixed and that families should not be separated. Families should never be separaed because families are the foundation of every civilized society.
One year ago many of us believed that the government of this nation had the will to fix the broken law, but that political will also appears now to be broken.
Like many others, I came to the United States to work. I came because of what NAFTA and other U.S. economic policies had done to my country in which I could no longer find work that paid a living wage.
I came thinking of the American dream, and you welcomed my labor. Although I had to struggle very hard, I am a worker and you offered me work. I am a consumer, and you accepted my hard earned money. I paid my taxes as does every citizen of this country.
My hard work is for my son, whom I love dearly. My son is a citizen of these United States of America. He knows no other country but his country. I promised God that I would protect and raise him in God's ways and that I would teach him that he had dignity and rights under the Constitution and that he was a child of God not a piece of garbage to be used and thrown away.
He has all these wonderful things, but my son does not have the assurance of the presence of his mother's face, my embrace, guidance and loving care – these things that we all realize are essential for the growth and the development of every child.
After 9/11 when we were struck by the terrorists, all of our lives as we knew them were destroyed and nothing has been the same.. You did not find Bin Laden, but you found Elvira Arellano, because I was not hiding. As a result I felt myself targeted and the rules were changed. You decided to drive out those you had invited in to serve your dinners, clean your houses, take care of your children and cut your grass.
I and my son Saul are not alone. We are twenty million people, 12 million undocumented and our legal and U.S. citizen children, spouses and extended families. We do not disappear because you change the rules. We have the lives we have built here when you wanted us to be here.
Out of fear and hatred of an enemy you cannot find you have set out to destroy our lives and our families. As you knocked on my door, you are knocking on thousands of doors, ripping mothers and fathers away from their terrified children. You have a list of 17 million social security no match numbers and you are following that list as if we were terrorists and criminals instead of workers with families. You are denying us work and the seniority and benefits we have earned and you are taking the property we have saved for and bought.
I respect this country's high goal to be a nation of laws. I understand fears, because today I am afraid of being torn from the arms of my son. But where is the love and justice which God gives us all? I supported a solution that would restore the rule of law and allow this nation to protect its borders. I accepted the fines and tests the Congress wanted to impose on us. But this was not enough.
When I entered sanctuary I made it clear that my commitment was to my son. If my son was 21, and if this government still did not want me to stay in this country, I would have said to him, "Son, you are old enough to make your own way and make your own decisions, and I would have packed my suitcases and gone back to Mexico. But he is not yet an adult and I have the responsibility to protect and prepare him for the life in this country he has a right to as a U.S. citizen.
When I entered sanctuary, I promised God that I would stay here and raise my son in his country, no matter what the consequences. God has protected me for this long year, but I cannot sit by now and watch the lives of mothers and fathers like me and children like Saul be destroyed. I believe in my heart that the people of this nation do not, in their hearts, want to destroy our lives, our families and our communities. I believe, however, that we must come forward in the witness of faith to bring a resolution to this crisis.
We cannot wait until the next election. The Congress must act in September!
Therefore, I have made my decision. On September 12th, I will go to Washington D.C. I will go to pray and fast in front of the Congress. I will go with by Bible and my son and I will read to him from the Holy Scriptures as I do everyday.
If this government would separate me from my son, let them do it in front of the men and women who have the responsibility to fix this broken law and uphold the principles of human dignity.
I will accept whatever God gives me to accept. But I ask my community, the families facing separation, to join me as we walk together for our dignity. I ask all people of conscience and good will to join me in 8 hours of prayer, from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the Washington Mall in front of Congress.
I know that there are many in Congress and millions of people in this country who know this misery cannot go on until the next election. Together in faith and prayer I hope that we can join together to heal the will that is broken in Congress so that Congress can fix the broken law in September..
From now until September 12th I will pray for my people and I will pray for this nation. May God Bless and Have Mercy on us all.
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