Church Celebrates Seventh Anniversary of Elvira Arellano’s Sanctuary

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

A powerful voice for America’s undocumented celebrated the anniversary a key milestone in the history of Latino immigrant activism.

Last Saturday, a passionate crowd gathered at Adalberto United Methodist Church in the Humboldt Park neighborhood to commemorate the seventh anniversary of Elvira Arellano’s sanctuary and the 60th birthday of Latina activist and Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras co-chair Emma Lozano.

The church, located at 2716 W. Division Street, served as the place of refuge for Arellano and her son Saul, who together resisted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s call for Arellano’s deportation in 2006.

Arellano’s fight against deportation garnered national attention, and she became the face of undocumented immigrant families who struggle to be together in the shadow of a broken law.

Latino advocate groups such as the National Alliance for Immigrants’ Rights and the League of United Latin American Citizens, in addition to civic leaders and fellow community activists, aided her, defended her difficult position, and deemed her case a civil rights issue.

During the anniversary celebration, several immigrant rights leaders and activists reflected on the historic importance of Arellano’s sanctuary at Adalberto.

Dr. Jose Lopez of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center said that the sanctuary solidified unity in the Latino community – with and without papers – around the issue, a unity that was finally shown to the nation in the Presidential elections of 2008 and 2012.

“We have accomplished a unity between Latinos from different national origins that Latin American visionaries have dreamed about for centuries,” Lopez said.

As immigration reform remains at a stalemate in Congress, Lozano said that the legislative paralysis created a huge burden of responsibility to President Obama to halt the mass deportation order.

“He broke his promise when he had the votes and he has voluntarily deported over 2 million people,” Lozano said. “He has the authority to grant the deferments and work permits he offered the dreamers before the last election to their parents and the parents of U.S. citizen children.”

Adalberto Church’s pastor, Rev. Walter Coleman, announced a campaign to recruit 1,000 “sanctuary churches” across the nation in December.

“Sanctuary 13” will unite congregations in creating pressure on the President to stop the deportations and will offer support to those facing orders of deportation.
Rev. Coleman began a “water only fast,” which he said he will maintain until the campaign has reached 1,000 churches.

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