Gutierrez: Arrest Intended to ‘Elevate’ Awareness in Immigration Debate

Posted May 2, 2010 at 12:05pm

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said his arrest outside the White House on Saturday was meant to raise awareness about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

“My arrest was part of a response to what I consider to be the immorality of our immigration system — we were protesting the fact that hundreds of thousands of immigrant families are being destroyed,” Gutierrez said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

The Illinois lawmaker added, “It was time I thought to escalate and elevate the level of awareness and consciousness for all those who try to reach our shores and can’t because our system is broken.”

Gutierrez was one of several immigration protesters arrested outside the White House on Saturday afternoon, after refusing to move when asked to by U.S. Park Police, Gutierrez spokesman Douglas Rivlin confirmed.

The Congressman was released later that afternoon.

Gutierrez, who appeared on the CBS morning show with former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), criticized the recent law passed in Arizona as discriminatory and advocated the use of a national ID card that would make it difficult for illegal immigrants to be hired by unscrupulous employers.

The state law — which requires law enforcement to ask individuals for proof of their immigration status if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the country illegally — has created a firestorm among immigration reform advocates.

Hayworth, who is running against Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the Republican primary, said it was “overblown rhetoric” to call the law racist.

“I would suggest that the law here in Arizona is designed quite simply to enforce federal law and I think what’s been going on here is has been a massive disinformation campaign and distortion,” Hayworth said.

Kathleen Hunter contributed to this report.