The news:

Saul Arellano, whose mother, Elvira, received national attention by seeking sanctuary at Adalberto United Methodist Church to avoid deportation, returned to Chicago for the May Day March. Arellano had moved to Mexico after his mother, who was arrested during a crackdown on unlawful employees at O’Hare International Airport for using a false Social Security number, was finally deported last year.

Behind the news:

The number of “worksite enforcement arrests” increased nationwide from 1,292 to 4,940 between fiscal years 2005 and 2007.

Fred Tsao, policy director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, believes that the increase reflects an effort by the current Bush administration to appease its core constituents, who tend to hold hardline views on immigration. “It is a way for the administration to score points and to boost their numbers of [deportation],” he said.

Richard Rocha, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as “ICE,” disagreed. “ICE is a law enforcement agency; our operations are not influenced by politics,” Rocha said. Rick Biesada, director of the Chicago Minuteman Project, an offshoot of an antiimmigration group that patrols the U.S.- Mexico border, said the increase is a positive step but pointed out that the enforcements are not carried out effectively, since not all arrests lead to deportation. “They haven’t done this in years and it just seems like they are window dressing,” he said.

Brandon A. Montgomery, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, clarified that deportations do take place but they sometimes take a long time because of the legal process. “We try to process efficiently,” he said. “But there is the appeal in general and immigration court process.”

Lourdes G. Vazquez

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