WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Latino groups and
immigration advocates said on Friday they expect President Barack Obama
to ease back from record deportations of people living illegally in the
United States after discussing their concerns with him for almost two
Obama announced late on Thursday that he had decided to review
deportation practices to seek a more "humane" way to enforce
His surprise decision came after months of pressure from Latino
groups, who are frustrated with stalled efforts to overhaul
immigration laws to provide a path to citizenship for about 11
million people living illegally in the United States.
More than a dozen immigration advocates met with Obama, Homeland
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other top White House officials.
The group included Janet Murguia, head of the National Council of La
Raza. Earlier this month, she called Obama, who is known as the
commander in chief, the "deporter in chief" in a speech.
Murguia told reporters her "tough words" were warranted because "our
community is in crisis" with families being separated through
"He has asked us to work directly with Secretary Jeh Johnson to
really find more humane ways to be able to address the situation,
and to reduce those deportations wherever we can," Murguia said. The
first meeting will take place next week.
"Our hope and expectation is that with that would come some
reduction in the level of deportations," she said.
In 2012, Obama had Homeland Security temporarily halt deportations
of undocumented children who were brought to the United States by
Immigration law experts have said Obama could use his executive
authority to also stop deporting parents of those children to keep
But until this week, Obama had resisted calls to use his authority
to slow down on the pace of other deportations, saying that he
needed to uphold the law, and wanted to reform laws working with
Obama has made immigration reform one of his top priorities even as
his administration has aggressively enforced existing laws,
deporting about 2 million people since he took office.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has passed an immigration bill, but
efforts to overhaul laws have stalled in the Republican-controlled
House of Representatives.
The White House said the meeting focused
on keeping pressure on Republicans to pass reforms. Latinos have
become a key voting bloc and could play an important role in
upcoming midterm elections in November.