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5/5: Deported Activist Runs for Mexican Congress
Released 27 May 2009  By Compiled by Frontera NorteSur (FNS)

Immigrant Activist Runs for Mexican Congress

May 5, 2009

The swine flu might have closed Mexican schools and slowed the nation’s
economy to a near standstill, but it didn’t stop the latest political
campaign from getting off the ground.

Although campaign kick-off events mainly proceeded last weekend without
the usual bluster, candidates from Mexico’s different political parties
launched their bids for positions in the lower house of the Mexican
Congress. In July, Mexican voters will go to the polls to elect new
federal representatives.

Among the better known candidates running for Congress is Elvira Arellano,
the deported activist from the United States who came to symbolize the
face of the new immigrant movement. Taking refuge in a Chicago church in
August 2006, Arellano defied a deportation order and US immigration
authorities for one year in an unsuccessful attempt to remain with her
young son. In August 2007, she was arrested and sent back to Mexico after
appearing at
an immigrant rights rally in Los Angeles.

Almost two years later, Arellano is on the campaign trail in Tijuana, Baja
California, where she is the candidate for Congressional District #4 on
the ticket of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Keeping true to her word to keep the migrant issue alive in the public
eye, the energetic activist is stressing immigrant rights issues in
Mexico’s 2009 political campaign. In comments last weekend, Arellano said
she is especially concerned about the fate of women migrants who pass
through Mexico on their way to the US, a journey that is often fraught
with sexual assaults and other abuses.

“I am going to seek laws in Congress that protect women, and also that
protect undocumented Central Americans who are treated like criminals in
Mexico,” Arellano said.

Noting Tijuana’s character as a city of migrants, Arellano said she
expected her message to receive a positive response from voters.

Arellano’s election run is the latest instance of a one-time Mexican
migrant jumping into the political ring south of the border. Individuals
like Arellano, who have experiences with laws, governments and civil
societies on both sides of the border, are gradually making their mark on
Mexican politics.

Perhaps the best-known example of a migrant-turned-politician prior to
Arellano is the late Andres Tomato King” Bermudez, who made good in
California before returning to the state of Zacatecas and taking a stab at
becoming mayor of the town of Jerez.

Initially denied a victory as a PRD candidate, Bermudez subsequently won
the top job in Jerez as the representative for the center-right National
Action Party in 2004. The flamboyant politician went on to win a
Congressional seat for the same political party in 2006, becoming one of
current President Felipe Calderon’s most virulent defenders in the
post-election conflict that surrounded the contested presidential election
three years ago. Bermudez died of cancer earlier this year while still
serving as a federal legislator.

Sources: La Jornada, May 4, 2009. El Universal, May 3, 2009. Article by
Julieta Martinez., May 3. 2009. Los Angeles Times, August 21,
2007, and February 8, 2009. Articles by Teresa Watanabe and Sam Quinones. Press, August 20, 2007.

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

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