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Saul Arrelano, 14, leads Fourth of July immigration rally

Thursday, July 04, 2013
Saul Arrelano, 14, leads immigration rally on Fourth of July
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A protest against deportation in Chicago Thursday was led by a very familiar figure in that battle.

Saul Arellano and his mother made national headlines seven years ago when she took sanctuary in a Chicago church to fight her deportation.

Immigration activist is not a role teenager Saul Arellano would have chosen for himself.

And yet, this July 4th, Saul and about 50 0thers chose to celebrate by highlighting the need for immigration reform.

They marched to Swaporama, a Back of the Yards flea market, where a homeland security raid last week resulted in 13 arrests. Authorities say the raid was customs, not immigration related. But activists believe ice is intensifying deportations even in light of the immigration bill making now making its way through Congress.

"We're starting to feel like battered wives, where the husband keeps telling us he will change," said immigration activist Emma Lozano. "He will get better. He promises us the world and instead he beats us down again."

Now 14-years old, the American-born Arellano was thrust into the spotlight in 2006, when he was only 8.

At the time, his mother, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico defied a deportation order by taking refuge in a storefront church in Humboldt Park. They lived there for a year before she was arrested on what was meant to be a secret trip to Los Angeles. Elvira Arellano was deported and banned from re-entering the country for 20 years.

"I've been struggling," said Saul Arellano. "I try not to remember that. I just see that I need to help all these kids that are getting separated."

Mother and son were separated for several months before Saul joined his mother in Mexico, a country he was a complete stranger to.

Six years later, Saul has adapted. He spends the school year in Mexico and the summers in Chicago, but still dreams of coming home.

"I feel like I belong in both places," he said. "I have friends in both places, in Mexico and in the U.S., but I would like to come here and study and have a better life."

Before returning to Mexico at the end of the Summer, Saul will go to Washington DC as part of a Chicago delegation that hopes to lobby members of the House to pass an immigration reform bill before the end of this year.

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