The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

March 14, 2014

Under pressure, Obama vows to examine deportations

(Continued)

White House officials declined to answer questions Thursday about what the government could do to make deportation more humane or whether there's a timeline for Homeland Security to finish an inventory and report back to Obama. But immigration activists will likely renew their call for Obama to halt deportations of parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally, among other steps.

"The president emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system," read a statement from Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney.

The conversation will start Friday, when Obama plans to meet with organizations working to pass bipartisan immigration legislation.

Separation of families is, in part, an incidental consequence of Obama's 2012 executive order that removed the threat of deportation for kids brought to the U.S. illegally, but did not extend that protection to their parents. A former law professor, Obama has insisted that he's already "stretched my administrative capacity very far."

"I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore any of the other laws that are on the books," Obama said last week in a virtual town hall with Spanish-language media outlets.

Gutierrez, who represents a largely Hispanic district in Obama's hometown of Chicago, exemplifies the shift that's occurred among many immigration advocates. A liberal Democrat, Gutierrez has become a vocal critic of Obama on immigration, and on the House floor last week called Obama the "deporter in chief," parroting a nickname given to him a day earlier by the head of the National Council of La Raza, a powerful advocacy group.

Under Obama's leadership, almost 2 million people have been removed from the U.S.

So as grumblings among Latino members of Congress grew louder on Thursday, Obama invited Gutierrez and two other Congressional Hispanic Caucus members to a meeting at the White House that wasn't listed on Obama's public schedule. After the meeting disbanded, the White House said Obama still intends to pressure Republicans to pass an immigration overhaul, but would take another look at deportation policies in the meantime.

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