CHICAGO - A small group protesting U.S. deportation policies is staging a sit-in at Rep. Luis Gutierrez's office in Chicago.

The protesters have been in the congressman's office since midday Thursday, Gutierrez spokesman Douglas Rivlin said. Staffers stayed with them overnight and brought them breakfast.

The protesters want the release of nine young activists being detained in Arizona after trying to re-enter the United States Monday to draw attention to the increase in deportations carried out under the Obama administration. The activists were born in Mexico and brought to America illegally. When they tried to re-enter the U.S. this week, they wore graduation caps and gowns to show they are productive members of society.

Gutierrez sent a letter Thursday urging Obama to release the detainees, known as the Dream 9, Rivlin said.