Lawmaker arrested in immigration protest at White House


Washington: Rep. Luis Gutierrez was arrested for staging a sit-in in front of the White House to demand that President Barack Obama stop the deportations of undocumented immigrants.

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Gutierrez, a firm defender of immigration reform, last year had already undertaken an act of civil disobedience similar to the one that resulted in his arrest this week.

The lawmaker Tuesday was accompanied by hundreds of activists and Hispanic leaders who protested for two hours before the presidential residence against “Obama’s unfulfilled promises”.

Protesters issued an ultimatum to Obama demanding that he use his executive authority to halt the deportations of undocumented immigrants, which have exceeded 1 million since he became president in January 2009.

The demonstrators gave the president until Aug 15 to respond to their demands or face a campaign to discourage Hispanics from voting for his re-election.

The protest unfolded peacefully under the watchful eyes of dozens of federal agents who helped remove demonstrators from Pennsylvania Ave.

The legislator and the community leaders who flanked him at the sit-in near the White House were warned twice by law enforcement officials that they would be arrested if they continued with their act of civil disobedience.

When they ignored the warnings from authorities, Gutierrez and other activists were arrested and removed from the site in two police vans.

“The president says Republicans are blocking immigration reform and he’s right, but it doesn’t get him off the hook,” Gutierrez said in a statement.