Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) was briefly handcuffed by law enforcement Monday when he staged a sit-in at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office while demanding information on illegal aliens being detained.
Gutierrez later appeared on CNN to speak about why he believed protesting was a necessary action to help a 50-year-old illegal immigrant, Francisca Lino, who had been reporting to the government but was told she was going to be deported.
"Look, I asked them to come forward and they did by the hundreds of thousands," he said, speaking about protesters. "And today is the time for us to stand up as American citizens and to confront our government, whether it's transgender kids, whether it's a woman's right to choose, whether it's $15 an hour, whether it's our environment, whether it's a Muslim ban, we must, as Americans, confront our government when our government is wrong. And that's what we did today."
So when they threatened us with arrest, we said, "Arrest us if that's what you must do, we came here to get answers." You saw what they did, they put handcuffs on and then they said, "You're now released."
It's very different when it's not in the dark of the night, and there's a vulnerable, fearful immigrant community that cannot defend themselves, and when they confront American citizens in plain daylight with the media watching. Very very different — we want to shed light on this situation.
"Our cameras were there," CNN host Erin Burnett replied, "we were shedding light on it, but I want to ask you, this Francisca story is very emotional. And when you see it, your heart goes out to her. When you take that in aggregate though, you say, 'All right, she used a fake visa, that is a crime when you come to the United States.' She is in the United States illegally, yes her children are U.S. citizens, but she never went ahead and got that citizenship. Uhm, you know, there are some people who would say, 'You should be deported, play by the rules, and then come back in.' Is that wrong?"
"Yeah, it is wrong," Gutierrez answered bluntly, "for this reason. There are 5 million American citizen children whose parents are just like Mrs. Lino. Five million! Should we have a policy across America where those 5 million American citizen children grow into adults and what they remember about their government during their childhood is that they were after their parents?"
"Look, when they say they're going after the criminals, what do they say, 'that bad hombre,' right?" referring to President Trump's euphemism for criminal illegal immigrants, "the murderers, the rapists, the drug dealers, Mrs. Lino is not a murderer. For 12 years, she reported to the government."
"The government has an obligation and a responsibility to use discretion as it applies the law," Gutierrez concluded.
ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro made a statement to CNN about the case:
Francisca Burciaga-Amaro, a Mexican national, was previously deported in 1999 after receiving final orders of removal. She later illegally re-entered the United States. On March 7, Burciaga-Amaro reported to the ICE office in Chicago as required and was advised that the reinstatement of her prior order of removal was being enforced.
Gutierrez also posted updates about his protest on his social media account as it happened:
There are indications that Trump's tough talk on immigration is already having an affect, despite his not yet passing any immigration legislation. A report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed an "unprecedented" drop in illegal border crossings. A woman who lives on the Texas-Mexico border told CNN that the number of illegal immigrant trespasses onto her property have slowed significantly, and even Univision's Jorge Ramos admitted that it was a good thing illegal alien crossings had decreased.