President Obama called for a review of the administration’s enforcement policies for immigration laws during a meeting with top Hispanic lawmakers on Thursday.
Reps. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraThe Hill's 12:30 Report Hispanic Democrats: Kaine 'true friend' of Latinos Clinton VP pick could face liberal ire MORE (Calif.), Luis GutierrezLuis GutierrezIsrael’s false friends Hispanic lawmakers face painful decision on Puerto Rico Frustration with White House builds in Hispanic caucus MORE (Ill.) and Ruben HinojosaRuben HinojosaTurning the tables to tackle poverty and homelessness in rural America Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts Dems heap praise on Pelosi for trade moves MORE (Texas) gathered in the Oval Office to focus on efforts to move a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress this year in the face of staunch GOP opposition.
“The president emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting.
Obama asked Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, to conduct an inventory of the Department’s current practices to see "how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law," the White House said.
The president also thanked the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for their work on these challenging issues, and expressed his strong desire to work together to put pressure on Congressional Republicans to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.
The gathering comes as a number of liberal Democrats, including Gutierrez, have grown increasingly critical of the Obama administration's deportation policies.
Although the administration in 2012 launched a program to halt deportations for qualified illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, many Democrats and immigrant rights advocates want Obama to expand the program to include a broader swath of beneficiaries.