Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) was among approximately 25 people arrested last week in front of the White House at a rally and march to defend DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that began accepting applications five years ago. The rally, in Lafayette Park, turned into a march around the White House, and at the end, about 25 U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents were arrested for failing to leave the sidewalk in front of the White House (the charge was failing to obey a lawful order by U.S. Park Police to move).
The Congressman and the others were handcuffed and led away, taken to a U.S. Park Police holding facility in Washington, processed and released about two hours later, after paying a $50 fine.
The Congressman was among the fiercest advocates for DACA and was arrested in front of the White House twice (in 2010 and 2011) urging then-President Barack Obama to protect immigrant youth from deportation, which he eventually did on June 15, 2012 in creating the DACA program which began accepting applications on August 15, 2012.
Thousands attended the August 15th rally, which was organized by United We Dream and Casa of Maryland, and other immigration issues, like the possible end to Temporary Protective Status (TPS), were also discussed.
“It is a shame and an embarrassment – es una vergüenza – the way this White House has turned on immigrants and fomented animosity towards immigrant families.”
Luis V. Gutiérrez
After his arrest, processing and release, Rep. Gutierrez stated: “While the President is coddling racist white supremacists because he is afraid to lose their votes, we took a stand today for justice. There is no doubt the American people stand with the young people who face deportation if Republicans kill DACA or fail to defend it in court. The people with DACA are 800,000 young men and women who are now doctors and lawyers and raising their own families. They are not criminals, they are assets to the United States and should not be driven out or driven underground. Another 300,000 or so people have been living and working here legally with TPS for decades and it now appears the President is actually contemplating making over 1 million documented immigrants into undocumented immigrants.
“I am a citizen and know when I leave my house in the morning that I will return that night, but millions of immigrants leave for work or school each day unsure whether they will be arrested and detained. I gave up a few hours of my freedom to stand up for them. I think as the reality of mass deportation, of ending DACA or ending TPS, as that sinks in and becomes more palpable for people, we will see an escalation of non-violent protest across the country.
“It is a shame and an embarrassment – es una vergüenza – the way this White House has turned on immigrants and fomented animosity towards immigrant families. I was at Navy Pier in Chicago on August 15, 2012 when immigrant youth and their families lined up to be the first to sign up for DACA. It was a moment of great hope as families helped fill out the paperwork knowing that only their children would actually benefit from DACA. I didn’t think I would be back in front of the White House facing arrest to defend DACA just five years later.”
Rep. Gutiérrez is in his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois. He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.