Illinois Congressman arrested in front of White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez was arrested in front of the White House on Tuesday afternoon while protesting deportation of illegal immigrants, a spokesman said.

The 10th 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’s spokesman Douglas Rivlin said the congressman was arrested along with a dozen other immigration protesters who sat down in front of the White House.

Gutierrez and the others were arrested because people are not allowed to sit in the space in front of the White House, Rivlin said. People there 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 after the arrest.

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.

Reporting by Wendell Marsh and Deborah Charles; Editing by Jerry Norton