Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) staged an impromptu sit-in at a regional Immigration and Customs Enforcement office Monday to protest a recent round of deportations of illegal immigrants. The Democratic congressman refused commands from law enforcement officials to leave and was ultimately handcuffed and removed.
Gutierrez, a vocal opponent of President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement and border security policies, met with ICE’s acting regional director at the agency’s Chicago headquarters. Gutierrez refused to leave the premises after the meeting ended.
“I wish that Mr. Gutierrez would … understand that he’s not serving the best interests of American citizens that he’s supposed to represent in the hallowed halls of Congress.”
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“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, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Gutierrez reportedly met with ICE officials to discuss the recent string of raids and deportations loudly decried by liberal immigration activists and many Democratic politicians.
Rivlin added Gutierrez told the ICE officials that it is “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.”
“Federal police giving us our first warning that we risk arrest if we stay at Chicago ICE HQ,” Gutierrez tweeted, adding later, “I was arrested, cuffed then cuffs were cut off. Waiting for further word on if/when we will be arrested.”
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“They started to arrest us earlier, but changed their minds. They know we are right,” Gutierrez followed up in another tweet.
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A former federal immigration official blasted the grandstanding.
“I wish that Mr. Gutierrez would … understand that he’s not serving the best interests of American citizens that he’s supposed to represent in the hallowed halls of Congress,” Michael Cutler, a retired criminal investigator for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, told LifeZette.
Cutler, who worked as a senior special agent with the INS on the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, said Gutierrez and activists like him often put the interests of illegal immigrants above the safety and well-being of their own legal constituents.
“Failures of immigration enable terrorists to enter the United States and embed themselves. Turning criminals loose in the ethnic immigrant communities endangers the lives of lawful immigrants. So, whose side is he on?” Cutler asked.
Gutierrez seemed happy to champion the interests of illegal immigrants, especially those brought illegally to the country as children.
“President Trump and his people should keep their hands off of the DREAMers, period,” Gutierrez said in the statement Friday. “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.”
But the Illinois congressman doesn’t seem to be as concerned with the impact on American workers of unrestrained, unlawful immigration.
“What I want to know is, is Mr. Gutierrez happy that American lawful immigrants and U.S. citizens are being displaced by foreign workers? Is that okay with him?” Cutler continued. “Is it okay that we have wage depression? Is it okay that gangs and criminals are setting up shop in those communities that think they’re being represented by him?”
For his own part, Gutierrez proudly touted his stand against the ICE officers.
“ICE knows deportation policies are egregious, unfair. They have not arrested us because they know policies are morally bankrupt,” Gutierrez added in a later tweet.
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Cutler said the problem with Gutierrez and his resistance to Trump’s immigration crackdown is that many Americans think “that he’s being pro-immigrant, and America was built by immigrants, so he’s as American as apple pie.”
“Well I think it’s all the theater of the absurd, and I think that’s how I would describe it,” Cutler said. “But aren’t we seeing that from the Democrats in general? … They’ve lost their collective minds.”
But times are changing now that Trump is in office with an “America First” political agenda.
“And finally we have a president who, unlike both political parties, puts Americans ahead of others,” Cutler added. “Because Mr. Trump is a populist — just like Thomas Jefferson who wrote, ‘We the people.'”