Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) was arrested for staging a sit-in in front of the White House to demand that President Barack Obama stop the deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Gutierrez, a firm defender of immigration reform, last year had already undertaken an act of civil disobedience similar to the one that resulted in his arrest this week.

The lawmaker on Tuesday was accompanied by hundreds of activists and Hispanic leaders who protested for two hours before the presidential residence against "Obama's unfulfilled promises."

Protesters issued an ultimatum to Obama demanding that he use his executive authority to halt the deportations of undocumented immigrants, which have exceeded 1 million since he became president in January 2009.

The demonstrators gave the president until Aug. 15 to respond to their demands or face a campaign to discourage Hispanics from voting for his re-election.

Latinos were a decisive factor in ensuring the Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election, and surveys show that they will once again wield significant clout in 2012.

The protest unfolded peacefully under the watchful eyes of dozens of federal agents who helped remove demonstrators from Pennsylvania Ave.

The legislator and the community leaders who flanked him at the sit-in near the White House were warned twice by law enforcement officials that they would be arrested if they continued with their act of civil disobedience.

When they ignored the warnings from authorities, Gutierrez and other activists were arrested and removed from the site in two police vans.

"The president says Republicans are blocking immigration reform and he's right, but it doesn't get him off the hook," Gutierrez said in a statement. "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."

The demands of the protesters include ending the deportations of undocumented youths who would qualify for legal residence under the DREAM Act, which remains stalled in Congress a decade after it was introduced.

According to government figures, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported slightly more than 1 million undocumented immigrants since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2009, a figure that includes people with and without criminal records.

Obama recently told Gutierrez in a letter to which Efe gained access on Wednesday that he understands the frustration of the Latino community over the deportations, that his government is focusing on deporting criminals and that the Homeland Security Department can only provide immigration relief or make exceptions on a "case by case" basis.