TIJUANA, Mexico – Mexican activist Elvira Arellano turned herself in on Tuesday to U.S. immigration authorities, whom she will ask – for humanitarian reasons – to be allowed to return to the country from which she was deported in 2007.
Accompanied by her two children, the human rights defender crossed the border into the United States along with the fourth group of immigrants from the “Bring Them Home” movement.
Arellano, TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006, said she was aware that she could go to federal prison, but she said that is a risk that must be taken to send a message to President Barack Obama that it is time to halt deportations which separate families.
“President Obama promised immigration reform to keep families united. He is the only man at this moment with the power to stop these deportations to keep our families together,” she said minutes before turning herself in at the Port of Entry in Otay Mesa, California.
The activist arrived at the entry point along with 30 other people, most of them mothers with their children and some undocumented students.
“I’m going to seek legal entry and will see if President Obama will be able to deport me yet again,” she said.
Her U.S.-born son Saul, now 15, asked President Obama to “be sensitive” and allow his mother to return to the United States.
Arellano was deported from the United States in August 2007, shortly after she left the Chicago church that sheltered her for more than a year from immigration authorities seeking to enforce a 2002 deportation order.