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News

Elvira Arellano Deported to Mexico by ICE in LA

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To some, Elvira Arellano is a leader among pro-immigration rights activists who think the federal government' immigration and trade policies are unfair. To others, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Arellano is just another attention-grabbing, "criminal alien and immigration fugitive," unfairly using her American-born son as an Elián González-like prop for pro immigration activism .

Arellano spent an entire year inside Adalberto United Methodist Church on Chicago's West Side, defying a federal order to report to DHS for deportation. Thursday, she left for the first time, along with her 8-year-old, American-born son Saul, and turned up this weekend in Los Angeles.

Sunday afternoon, after speaking near La Placita Church in El Pueblo, Arellano's van was circled by ICE officers and she was taken into custody. By late Sunday, she was in Mexico, deported by Homeland Security via Tijuana.

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Is this just one of the many stories of a Mexican-born mother, caught working without documents, separated from her young son and sent back across the border?

Outside of LA, it's being handled as a significant news story (and landing on many online news site's top ten most-viewed widgets). Sunday night's news of Arellano's deportation following her arrest in downtown LA is news to hundreds of publications. But, despite the local aspect of the story, not to mention the high local interest in immigration issues, the story remains buried -- at best -- in both the LA Times' and Daily News' online editions. Even this morning, the Times has yet to mention anywhere in it's story that Arellano was both arrested and deported, a key detail of the story (Trib.com main story = "Activist deported," AP and Reuters heds both mention "deportation").

We already know that the Times' editorial board considers "the Internet, and Google in particular, a greater threat to their livelihoods than Osama bin Laden" but for a publication looking to boost it's online ad revenues, it's inexcusable to fail to feature such an engaging -- and local -- news event. In reality, readers are more likely to visit latimes.com to read more on a globally covered, developing news story regarding a globally recognized icon of the immigration movement and datelined LOS ANGELES on their own than via a clickthru from a Google News snippet (and, by failing to update, the Times' story is far from accessible via Google News search.

The widespread reportage of Arellano's fate (it's on the top of the hour CBS radio news update, among other places) is sure to bring traffic to latimes.com (only to be disappointed). Sure, this "icon" is an illegal immigrant, not a misbehaving B-movie teen starlet or ex-Mouseketeer, but, let's be honest, the Times can't compete with a TMZ.com's coverage of the latter. Additionally, we count on our local papers to bring a straight story to help make sense out of the rantings and ravings of blogging heads like Debbie Schussel, Michelle Malkin, and Roger L. Simon.

The similarly slenderized sister publication of the LA Times seems to think so, leading Saturday's paper with the story of Arellano's departure from the Humboldt Park church where she took sanctuary on August 15, 2006 (also featured prominently in the Washington Post.

The news of her deportation soon after her arrival in Los Angeles is currently the top story on the Tribune's online edition. And the link in Sunday night's "Extra Extra" post points Chicago's Sun Times, where it's also the featured story.

Is the Times over-sensitive about covering a controversial figure of a heated political issue that keeps the Times from staying on top of the Arellano story and updating the now-half-day-old developments? This question seems to come up again and again, ever since the paper seemed slow to give devote serious inches of coverage to spring 2006's immigration rallies and marches.

Perhaps the Times will recognize the newsworthiness and relevancy of this story following an 11 a.m. news conference scheduled by immigration activists at Federal Plaza. Will they have Arellano as "deported" and not just "arrested" in time for an 8 p.m. vigil set for the same location?

Can we please, at least get some kind of coherently blogged / editorialized thoughts? Eric Zorn, straightforward columnist for the Tribune wrote last week, that, even though he objected to both Arellano's "flouting of U.S. law and the reluctance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to respond to her double-dog dare," the feds lost this one by playing along with her headline-grabbing tactics and not letting her be. By failing to comment/report on the story, The Times, has chosen to do just that -- let iher -- and the loud-mouthed immigration reform opponents -- be.

Arellano booking photo courtesy ICE.