U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and a delegation of activists and lawyers staged a sit-in at the regional offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement after their demands were not met during an hourlong meeting Monday with agency officials.
Gutierrez met with ICE’s acting regional director Monday morning to discuss immigrants living illegally in the Chicago area and around the nation. The meeting was Gutierrez’s first with ICE officials under the Trump administration, and he hoped to get details about the agency’s enforcement policy as well as to advocate against deportation orders for several detained immigrants.
Three immigrants on Gutierrez’s list involve high-profile cases.
Francisca Lino, a 50-year-old mother of six, lives outside Chicago and has been in the U.S. for nearly two decades. Lino is expected to be deported in July, according to a CNN report.
Miguel Perez Jr., a U.S. military veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and has a green card, is awaiting a judge’s ruling on whether he must return to his native Mexico after serving time in a state prison for a felony drug conviction.
Elvira Arellano was arrested and deported in 2007 after leaving a Chicago church providing sanctuary to take her case around the country. She was readmitted to the U.S. while she applies for protected status.
“The congressman decided he did not get the answers he was looking for from the regional director, and he’s going to be staying inside until he gets answers, even if that means risking arrest,” said Doug Rivlin, Gutierrez’s spokesman.
Rivlin updated reporters outside the ICE office on Congress Parkway.
“The congressman said, ‘Look, its reprehensible that immigrants are being treated this way, that rules are being changed without any information or notice, that low priorities for deportation are being removed from the country,’ ” Rivlin said.
A little after 4 p.m, Gutierrez and others emerged from the building after they were briefly detained, according to authorities and their own accounts.
“Their response was, ‘We can’t get you an answer today,’ and if we don’t leave, you will be arrested,” Gutierrez told reporters. “We told them, ‘Place the handcuffs (on us); we’re ready to go to jail.’ After they placed handcuffs on us, in moments, the bully kind of stopped being a bully and they took the handcuffs off of us.”
He continued, “We accomplished our goals today. We stood up to the Department of Homeland Security and to Donald Trump’s hatred and bigotry.”
In a statement released Monday, ICE’s regional office in Chicago said Gutierrez “sought actions and assurances that ICE officials couldn’t provide” after which Federal Protective Service officers were called.
“FPS provided three separate verbal warnings and after each warning FPS provided the individuals several minutes to comply,” the statement said. “The congressman and other individuals were placed in the restraints for approximately two minutes before the flex cuffs were removed by FPS. FPS did not cite these individuals.”
Gutierrez’s sit-in comes after President Donald Trump has promised to deport up to 3 million immigrants with criminal records, suggested an overhaul of the country’s immigration system to focus on merits and proposed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
More recently, posts from ICE’s Twitter account regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients sparked concerns from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Gutierrez is a member.
Gutierrez released a statement Friday suggesting that DACA recipients should not be removed.
“President Trump and his people should keep their hands off of the Dreamers , period,” Gutierrez said in the statement, referring to those who would be allowed to remain in the U.S. under the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act that has been introduced in Congress. “Tweeting out that every DACA recipient is vulnerable to deportation is just another way this president is trying to create fear in immigrant communities, to make families and children think that their government could come after them at any time.”
Rivlin said that if Gutierrez is arrested, the U.S. Marshals Service would take him to the Dirksen Federal Building.
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