While deportations have skyrocketed over the past ten years, we know that in the history of the US they have long been used as a tool to exile “undesirable populations.” The government arbitrarily declares people “potential subversives” and then deports them.
There is a long legacy of women immigrants playing strong roles in US social movements for worker's justice, black liberation, gender equality and immigrant rights. Here we celebrate Emma Goldman, Claudia Cumberbatch Jones and Elvira Arellano, all social justice activists who were eventually deported for their political activities.
Claudia Cumberbatch Jones (February 15, 1915 – December 24th, 1964) was a Trinidadian journalist, who applied her skills to becoming a political activist and black nationalist through Communism.
After her family emigrated to New York City when she was aged 9, she graduated from high school, and then trained as a journalist. Deported from the United States as a result of communist political activism during the period of McCarthyism political witch hunts, she eventually found a base in London, England. There she founded and organised various black nationalist activities, including in 1959 and annual Caribbean celebration that evolved into the Notting Hill Carnival. She is buried in Highgate Cemetery, next to and left of her hero, Karl Marx.
Emma Goldman (June 1869- May 14, 1940) a renowned anarchist and political activist was born in the Russian Empire and emigrated to the US in 1885. She livedin NYC, where she became a write and a renowned lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women's rights, and social issues, attracting crowds of thousands.
Goldman was imprisoned several times for inciting to riot and illegally distributing information about birth controla nd eventually deported, despite being a naturalized citizen. She was deported to Russia under the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1918 which was passed to deport any non-citizens they could identify as advocates of anarchy or revolution.
At her deportation hearing she said “Today so-called aliens are deported. Tomorrow native Americans will be banished. Already some patrioteers are suggesting that native American sons to whome democracy is a sacred ideal should be exiled.”
Elvira Arellano (born 1975-Present) immigrated to the United States in 1997 from Mexico, where she raised her U.S. citizen son Saul. When she was ordered deported after a workplace raid in 2007 she took refuge in a Chicago church to fight for her right to stay with her son in the US and for the rights for all immigrant families to stay together.
Her story, helped bring deportations into the national spotlight and the harmful affects they have on families. She was eventually arrested in L.A. By ICE agents when she went to lecture at a local church. Her son Saul remained in the U.S. but later on joined his mother in Mexico.
She has been unable to return to the U.S. And lives in Michoacan, the Mexican state where she organizes with La Familia Latina Unida- Sin Fronteras (Latina Family United – Without Borders) which supports families divided by mass deportations in the U.S. They also work with Central American immigrants detained or affected by the violence in Mexico.