An immigration judge extended parole Wednesday for twice-deported Mexican activist Elvira Arellano, who famously took refuge in a Chicago church when she faced removal in 2006.
Arellano’s probation for violating immigration law was set to expire Wednesday, but the legal victory will allow her and her 3-year-old Mexican-born son Emiliano to remain in the country for another year alongside her U.S.-born son, 18-year-old Saul Arellano.
"She has fought for me and now its time for me to give to her," Saul said at a news conference Wednesday. "She went against a whole government because she believed that she needed to be with her son. And now I believe I need to be with my mother here."
All three arrived for her first meeting at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Chicago under President Donald Trump’s administration, hoping for either relief through political asylum, or an extension of her current status.
While she was not granted asylum, she was given a one-year reprieve from being deported, yet again, as her case continues to be reviewed.
“ICE did not take action at this time because her immigration court proceedings are still pending,” the immigration agency said in a statement.
Arellano, 42, was first deported to Mexico after attempting to use fraudulent documents to enter the United States on Aug. 20, 1997, but illegally reentered the country later that year.
She settled in Yakima, Washington, and she gave birth to Saul in 1999. Arellano moved to Chicago in 2000 and was arrested by ICE agents at O’Hare International Airport in 2002 as part of Operation Tarmac, a massive crackdown on airport employees living in the U.S. illegally.
Arellano was convicted of Social Security fraud, but granted at least three stays of deportation, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In 2006, she faced deportation once again and sought refuge at the Adalberto United Methodist Church in the city’s Humboldt Park neighborhood with her U.S.-born son, making headlines around the world as she pledged to remain in America.
Arellano lived in the church for nearly a year and became a symbol for the new sanctuary movement, in which undocumented immigrants residing in the country illegally seek shelter at places of worship.
Despite her efforts and the national attention given to her case, Arellano was deported again on Aug. 19, 2007, nearly 20 years to the day after she was first removed from the country.
Arellano’s advocacy for immigrants seeking asylum continued in Mexico, where she had Emiliano. In 2014, she reentered the U.S. and was placed into removal proceedings by Customs and Border Protection and turned over to ICE.
She was paroled out of ICE custody pending her ongoing removal proceedings in federal immigration court, in which she continues to seek political asylum in the U.S. based on her outspoken criticisms of the Mexican government.