U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials handcuffed Democratic Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez after he refused to leave ICE's Chicago offices on Monday.
Gutierrez was at the office with a group of lawmakers, community activists and immigration lawyers for a meeting with ICE about recent deportation cases. When the meeting concluded, Gutierrez and seven others felt that officials had not yet answered some of their most pressing questions and decided to stay until they did.
"The Congressman has decided that he did not get the answers that he was looking for from the ICE regional director and he's going to be staying inside until he gets answers, even if that means risking arrest," Douglas Rivlin, Gutierrez's spokesperson, said in a news conference held as the sit-in was being staged.
According to Rivlin, Gutierrez and the other advocates had gone seeking answers both about "specific cases and ICE's general conduct."
Rivlin said Gutierrez asked about, among other cases, Francisca Lino, a woman whose husband and children are U.S. citizens and who is facing deportation in July. Gutierrez, who has been following Lino's case since 2008, requested that her deportation be canceled.
ICE officials told the local NBC affiliate that they issued three warnings to Gutierrez and a group of other activists and advocates who had remained in the office after a scheduled meeting. ICE said Gutierrez was meeting with the agency's local Enforcement and Removal Operations branch and asking about specific cases.
"During this meeting, ERO Chicago officials responded to the Congressman's requests for information," ICE said in the statement. "However, when the Congressman sought actions and assurances that ICE officials couldn't provide, he and other meeting attendees staged a sit-in and refused to leave the ERO office at the conclusion of the meeting."
ICE then placed the congressman in plastic handcuffs, according to the NBC station, and escorted him out the building. Gutierrez tweeted that the handcuffs were cut off once he was outside the building and his office was still waiting for "word on if/when we will be arrested."