A handful of immigration reform proponents demonstrate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, Dec. 3, 2013.
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Immigration protest sparks arrests outside White House


Around 30 religious leaders, immigrants, and supporters holding signs and singing songs in protest to President Obama’s deportation policy were arrested outside the north gate of the White House Monday.

The President’s Day protest was organized by the United Methodist Church and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. The UMC reported on its website Monday afternoon that more than 50 people attended the protest.

More than 2 million people have been deported during President Obama’s five years in office, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security. In comparison, the George W. Bush administration deported around 2 million people during Bush’s eight years in office.

Congressional Democrats have raised the issue with Obama, with some imploring the president to extend his Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals program to other family members and working immigrants. The program, which Obama enacted by executive action, permits some high-achieving immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to remain working in-country for up to two years.

Obama stressed to Democratic lawmakers during a retreat Friday that there are “genuine limits to what we can do” without congressional approval.

He urged members of Congress to continue to push for comprehensive immigration legislation, which has stalled in the House since last fall.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network filed a petition earlier this month requesting DHS “expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the fullest extent permissible by law” and to suspend deportations for immigrants ”who are likely future beneficiaries of immigration reform.”

After issuing three warnings, officers from the U.S. park police began making arrests as other protesters in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, continued chanting.  

NBC News’ Shawna Thomas contributed reporting