“This act of civil disobedience by an undocumented mother today is a proclamation of the ‘State of the Latino Nation.'”
Following in the footsteps of her friend Elvira Arellano, Flor Crisotomo announced today that she will refuse to report for deportation as ordered by Homeland Security and will take sanctuary in Adalberto United Methodist Church.
“I am taking a stand of civil disobedience to make America see what they are doing. I believe with all my heart that the United States and Mexico must end the system of undocumented labor but the current policy of enforcement only is not ending this system and that is what I want America to see.”
Flor’s story illustrates the roots of the current immigration crisis. Driven here because of the effects of NAFTA on her hometown, she came to support her three children, her sister and her aging mother. She worked for IFCO until that company was raided in a high profile national raid in 2006, when she was arrested.
Flor explained that undocumented workers are caught between two U.S. policies. On the one hand, Homeland Security and a wave of local laws across the country are making it more and more difficult to survive openly in this country. On the other hand, the policies of NAFTA have devastated the rural economy of Mexico and as many as a million more Mexican farmers will be put out of work this year and most will seek to travel north.
“I cannot support my children if I return to Mexico because of the policies of NAFTA and yet for the 12 million it is becoming more and more difficult to survive here.”
“The government has no intention of deporting 12 million people. They say they expect us to self-deport, but we cannot leave because of what U.S. economic policies have done to destroy jobs in our home countries. That is why the current policy will not end the system of undocumented labor. It will only drive us into worse and worse jobs.”
“I will not be a symbol of fear to spread among my people. I hope that adding my grain of sand to the struggle will help to get the U.S. Congress to act to fix a broken law and an inhuman system of undocumented labor.
Speaking for Familia Latina Unida/[Pueblo] Sin Fronteras, Emma Lozano proclaimed Flor’s action as a statement of “the State of the Latino Nation.”
“Over half of the Latinos in this country live in fear every day that a family member, loved one or friend will be deported and yet the government has failed to respond to this crisis in our community. We will likely not even be mentioned in the President’s address tonight. The Democratic Presidential candidates have failed to take on this crisis and the Democratic Congress has refused to even put immigration on their agenda at their upcoming retreat this Wednesday. Neither Party has addressed the economic policies that are driving immigration from Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Not only the undocumented, but the entire Latino community has been forced into the shadows of this country.
“The current policy of “enforcement only” is a political fraud. It is not aimed at ending the cruel system of undocumented labor, which separates families on both sides of the border. It is aimed only at mobilizing hate, causing fear and driving millions further into the shadows.
“Today we are saying that we will not be invisible. Congress must act to bring our people out of the shadows. Congress must act to renegotiate NAFTA and legalize both the employers and the workers to end this system of exploitation and separation of families.”
Speaking on behalf of the little Methodist church that stood off the U.S. government for a year with Elvira Arellano, Rev Walter Coleman reminded the people that, “Jesus came to say that the people have eyes but they do not see. We must Make America See by our faith.”
“Two million people, their families here and their families in Mexico, are caught in a triangle of paralysis: Between the Greed of NAFTA, the Hatred of immigration enforcement and the hunger in their children’s eyes.
“We have waited patiently for government to act meaningfully â€“ but they have not. Every Sunday, this church like many others across this land, is filled with families facing the pain of separation, the agony of unacceptable alternatives. We call today for a renewal of the Sanctuary Movement that began with Elvira Arellano here in this church.
“Where governments fail the people, faith must stand apart. Let us go forward together in faith. Let us make America see.”