Illinois Congressman arrested in front of White House
WASHINGTON – Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez was arrested in front of the White House on Tuesday afternoon while protesting deportation of illegal immigrants, a spokesman said.
Gutierrez was released and made it back to the floor of the House of Representatives in time for the final vote of the day after paying a $100 fine, said the spokesman, Douglas Rivlin.
The 10-term Illinois representative has long worked on immigration issues, taking a prominent role in pushing the DREAM Act in Congress, which would give young people who have lived in the United States at length paths to citizenship.
Gutierrez and about a dozen other immigration protesters were arrested after sitting down in front of the White House, in an area where people are supposed to keep moving.
The arrests came after U.S. Park Police warned the protesters twice. They were put in plastic handcuffs and taken to a waiting van, Rivlin said.
The arrested were part of a larger protest by groups which say that under President Barack Obama’s watch, more people have been deported than under any other president.
«The President says Republicans are blocking immigration reform and he’s right, but it doesn’t get him off the hook. Everyone knows he has the power to stop deporting DREAMers and others with deep roots in the U.S. and we think he should use it,» Gutierrez said in a statement released by one of the protesting groups.
The Obama administration has said that while it supports the DREAM act and other reforms, its deportations are in accordance with existing law.
In May 2010, Gutierrez was also arrested at the White House in an immigration protest. He was then taken to Park Police facility in Anacostia Park, and asked to pay a $100 fine, according to Rivlin.
Among those arrested with Gutierrez on Tuesday were Deepak Bhargava, the executive director of the Center for Community Change; and Gustavo Torres, head of CASA de Maryland, which played a significant role in getting legislation similar to the DREAM Act approved in Maryland.