Supporters of the DREAM Act, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., third from right, wait to be arrested while performing an act of civil disobedience at a rally for supporting the DREAM Act and immigration reform outside the White House in Washington.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D- Ill.) on Tuesday was arrested for the second time in 14 months in front of the White House fence following a rally in Washington, D.C.'s Lafayette Square to protest deportations.
Gutierrez has been a harsh and vocal critic of the Obama administration (including former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) and its inability to facilitate comprehensive immigration reform.
Gutierrez and 10 others were arrested after sitting down in front of White House fence and refusing orders to leave the premises by D.C. Park Police.
"Look, the President has broad discretionary power," Gutierrez told the Media Research Center in an interview before his arrest. "Pick and choose. Get rid of the criminals: the drug dealers, the gang bangers, the rapists. Get rid of them. We'll help you, but there are good people in this country. You should show some discretion."
In May 2010, Rep. Gutierrez engaged in a similar protest outside of the White House gates, announcing he would not move until he was arrested or until comprehensive immigration reform had become law. The former proposition moved Gutierrez from outside the White House into custody of D.C. Park Police. He later paid a $100 fine for his actions.
On Tuesday, Gutierrez was transported in a van to Park Police headquarters in Anacostia Park, along with representatives from the Center for Community Change and Casa de Maryland who joined the House representative in protest, according to a report by The Hill.
The 11 people taken into custody were arrested for "violating regulations for demonstrations in front of the White House" and for "disobeying an official to come in compliance," explained Sergeant David Schlosser, U.S. public information officer for the D.C. Park Police.
Gutierrez, activists and other democratic lawmakers criticize Obama for not fulfilling his campaign promise to undertake comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in office to help the situation of nearly 11 million unauthorized immigrants who still remain in the country.
"Mr President, you wasted two years, now use your discretion to order the cessation of deportations," said Gutierrez.
In 2010, an unprecedented 393,000 people were deported, drawing the attention of the Hispanic community.
Obama has also received numerous requests to use his discretionary authority to prevent the deportation of those who would benefit from the Dream Act as a temporary solution until Congress debates over comprehensive reform.
In a letter sent to Gutierrez on Monday, Obama affirmed that authorities are using discretion for those deported from the country. He states that 51 percent of the those deported during the fiscal year of 2010 were convicted criminals. Of the other 49 percent deport, Obama said, nearly two-thirds were arrested at the border or had been previously deported. The rest of the deportations involved fugitives from immigrations courts, individuals new to the U.S. and others that weren't categorized.
He also stated that the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to cancel deportations on a temporary basis and limited to specific cases, but that it was inappropriate to use discretionary authority to protect students who categorically fall under the Dream Act or any other group, although there may be compelling reasons to do so.
Federal authorities announced in June that immigration policies would be changed to focus efforts on people who have committed serious crimes.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the House of Representatives' Judicial Committee Chairman, presented a bill that would strip the president of his discretionary authority to grant special immigration status or delay deportation of aliens without criminal records, to be effective Jan. 21, 2013. A similar bill was also introduced in the Senate.
As of now, with Republicans in control of the House, it seems unlikely that Congress will focus its attention on debate over immigration reform.
|Video from the Media Research Center|