Latino Rep. Arrested For Protesting DREAM Act At White House

Several of our News Taco readers have suggested we post on this story, so here it is: U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez was arrested outside of the White House Tuesday as he and others protested the Obama Administration’s deportation of potential DREAM Act students.

Here’s a press release from Gutiérrez’s office:

At an action at the White House today, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (IL-4) was joined by representatives of faith, labor, and immigrant organizations to mark the more than one million people who have been deported since President Obama’s election and hear chilling stories of families caught in broken administrative policies.

“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,” stated Rep. Luis Gutierrez.

As the White House frequently brags, President Obama has now deported more people than any other president in history. While frequently blaming the lack of immigration progress on Congress, participants identified a core set of policies that the President himself could implement to alleviate the suffering experienced in Latino and immigrant communities. Those demands include a stay on the deportations of DREAM students and parents of US citizen children and lifting of the ten-year reentry bar for parents, the termination of local law enforcement immigration programs such as Secure Communities, and the cancellation of administration policies that risk worksite organizing and worker rights such as E-Verify.

“Twenty-five years ago, Gamaliel trained and mentored a young community organizer named Barack Obama. Today, President Obama needs to listen to the community voices he helped lift up decades ago,” said Ana Garcia-Ashley, Executive Director of Gamaliel, a national faith-based organizing network. “Executive action is the first step toward solving the national immigration crisis that is tearing apart families and lives.”

At today’s action, which had around 2,500 participants, immigrants directly impacted by the failings of the immigration system spoke out, including Florinda Faviola (Desemillian) Lorenzo. Ms. Lorenzo, a mother of three, is facing an August 3 forced departure date after being snared in the infamous Secure Communities program of Prince George’s County, Maryland, where she was arrested for the “crime” of selling telephone cards. Prince George’s County has the second worst rate of deportation of non-criminals through Secure Communities in the country. To date, requests for relief in her case have been denied by the Department of Homeland Security.

“Florinda’s case is the perfect example of the failings of the administration,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland. “A mother of three is facing forced separation from her children in a case where the President’s agency has specifically refused to provide relief. This is not inaction that can be blamed on Congress; the only responsible party is the President.”

The event was sponsored by CASA de Maryland and Familias Unidas and was participated in by representatives of the Center for Community Change, CARECEN, Presente.org, Progressive Maryland, Gamaliel, Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland, the Franciscan Action Center, and others.

The arrestees at the event included Congressman Gutierrez, the Executive Directors of national organizations including the Center for Community Change (Deepak Bhargava) and Gamaliel (Ana Garcia Ashley), representatives from local organizations including CASA de Maryland and Progressive Maryland, and faith leaders.

Follow Sara Inés Calderón on Twitter @SaraChicaD

[Photo By U.S. Congress]

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