President Barack Obama has ordered a review of U.S. deportation practices to see whether immigration enforcement can be more humane, the White House said Thursday.
In a meeting with Latino lawmakers, Obama said he was deeply concerned about the pain that families feel when they are separated because of a broken U.S. immigration system. He told the lawmakers he’s asking Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to perform an inventory of current practices “to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law,” the White House said in a statement.
The announcement comes as immigrant rights activists, frustrated by the lack of progress in Congress, have been pressuring Obama to halt all deportations. Obama had said he doesn’t have the power to take that step unilaterally, although he has previously moved to ease deportations for some children brought into the U.S. illegally.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill last June with strong bipartisan support that would create a pathway for citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, tighten border security and establish new visa and enforcement programs. The measure has languished in the House despite calls from Republican Party leaders, business groups, religious organizations and labor for lawmakers to act.
Taking part in the meeting Thursday were Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., a prominent immigration advocate, and House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra of California also joined Obama in the Oval Office.
President Barack Obama has ordered a review of our nation’s deportation practices to make our methods more humane. I believe the President’s right in making those moves.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced after a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Friday that he will lay out some of his plans for immigration reform on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Members of the caucus who were present at the meeting said Obama assured them that he shares the group’s basic beliefs about immigration reform, most notably that making a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — which some Republicans oppose — is an absolute must as they push for legislation.
"The President was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship," the administration in a statement. "The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay."
Seven members of Congress were present at the meeting, including Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Immigration Task Force Chairman Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Chairman of the Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).
Obama told the group that his plans for immigration reform align with their own, especially with regards to the need for a pathway to citizenship, Becerra said after the meeting.
The Associated Press reported that the White House will launch an effort on immigration next week, as will a bipartisan group of senators, likely the so-called"gang of eight" — four Republicans, four Democrats — who have already begun to work toward a deal.
A pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States is considered a non-negotiable for many Democrats and immigrant advocates, who argue anything else would result in a huge group of second-class residents. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that advocates for a pathway to citizenship will have to cave and accept temporary status instead, with no special road to citizenship.
Meanwhile, senators plan to move ahead on other piecemeal immigration bills. The Hill reported Friday that Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida are teaming up with Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Chris Coons of Delaware to introduce a bill next week that focuses on visas for high-skilled workers.
Obama administration officials have said they believe piece-by-piece reform would be less productive, but Hatch told The Hill he thinks his bill could aid in the broader legislative effort.
H/T: Huffington Post