President Obama is meeting with Latino lawmakers about immigration reform. In an attempt to pacify immigration advocates, the President held a meeting of prominent Latino legislators at the White House. Democrat lawmakers such as Representative Luis Gutierrez, D-IL, Representative Ruben Hinojosa, D-TX, the current chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and House Democrat Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-CA, attended the meeting and sought ways of altering current immigration laws.
The President told the congressmen that he was concerned about the pain families suffered when separated by immigration policies. He will be asking Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson to explore the Department’s practices and find a humane way of dealing with illegal immigrants while staying within the confines of the law. A spokesman from the White House declined to answer how or what the government could do to alter the current policy or when Secretary Johnson was to report back to the President with his recommendations.
As the prospect of immigration reform appears unlikely in Congress, President Obama’s meeting with Latino lawmakers about immigration reform was a White House attempt to rekindle the issue. Immigration advocates have lobbied President Obama to stop all deportations, something the President claims he cannot do on his own. His announcement to reexamine the laws and test the limits of his authority demonstrated the President’s willingness to explore all options available to his administration. The President wanted to emphasize he too was concerned about the separation of families with the current system in place.
Immigration activists insist that President Obama stop deportations for parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally. In 2012, he signed an such an executive order. Immigration groups say the measure does not go far enough.
Critics such as Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza have criticized President Obama as being “the deporter in chief.” Her organization lambasted the Obama administration for soon reaching two million deportations, a number too high for a nation of immigrants.
Representative Gutierrez has a large Latino district. He previously criticized the Obama Administration for its inaction concerning illegal immigration. When Homeland Secretary Johnson meets with the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressman Gutierrez will raise further options to address the issues facing his constituents. The congressman announced he was pleased with his recent White House visit and that the President expressed the intense feelings the congressman had about the effects deportations leave on families. The congressman added that the White House had been dormant for too long concerning immigration reform.
The President also intended to meet with members of congress working to pass bipartisan immigration legislation to prevent deportations. The goal is to pass an immigration policy that would lead to a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. The Senate passed such a comprehensive bill last June. A similar measure stalled in the House.
While Congress delays action, the Obama Administration wants to find a more humane way of enforcing the current immigration laws. President Obama meeting with Latino lawmakers about immigration reform was the first step in that process.
By Brian T. Yates