Obama orders review of U.S. deportation practices

Move is an effort to appease advocates, who are becoming increasingly frustrated with the ever-dimmer hope of an immigration overhaul
Associated Press
Mar 14, 2014


Seeking to pacify frustrated immigration advocates, President Barack Obama is directing the government to find more humane ways to handle deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, the White House said Thursday.

With prospects for an immigration overhaul in Congress appearing ever dimmer, immigration advocates have been ramping up pressure on Obama to halt all deportations — a step the president has insisted he can't take by himself. By announcing he's open to changing how the U.S. enforces its current laws, Obama is signaling he may be growing more inclined to test the limits of his authority in the face of congressional inaction.

Obama's announcement came Thursday in a meeting with three Latino lawmakers who are seeking ways to resuscitate an immigration overhaul despite resistance from Republicans and election-year politics that have confounded their efforts. The White House said Obama told the lawmakers — all Democrats — that he's deeply concerned about the pain that families suffer when they are separated due to a broken immigration system.

"He told the members that he has asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do 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 in a statement.

Without new laws, it's unclear what Obama can do on his own. As recently as last week, Obama said he already had "stretched my administrative capacity very far" when he issued an executive order in 2012 removing the threat of deportation for children brought to the U.S. illegally.

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

White House officials declined to answer questions Thursday about what the government could do to make deportation more humane or the timeline for Johnson to report back to the president. But immigration activists will likely call for Obama to halt deportations for parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally, among other steps.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who represents a heavily Latino district in Illinois, said after the Oval Office meeting that he will present options to Johnson next week, and then the secretary will meet with the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss those and other options.

"It is clear that the pleas from the community got through to the president," said Gutierrez, who traditionally has been an Obama ally but recently has grown critical of Obama for doing too little.

Obama still intends to pressure Republicans to pass an immigration overhaul, the White House said — a sentiment echoed by Gutierrez and others in the Hispanic caucus. To that end, Obama was planning to meet Friday with organizations working to pass bipartisan immigration legislation.

Ironically, by moving to ease deportation practices now, Obama may make the task of getting that overhaul through Congress even tougher. Republicans have already insisted they are reluctant to rewrite immigration laws out of concern that Obama will not dutifully enforce them, citing the broad latitude he has granted himself in implementing his health care law.

A top second-term priority for Obama, immigration appeared to be an area of potential bipartisan agreement coming out of the 2012 election, in which Republicans lost the Hispanic vote by a wide margin. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in June with strong bipartisan support that would create a pathway for citizenship for about 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, tighten border security, and establish new visa and enforcement programs.

But the measure stalled in the House, despite calls for lawmakers to act from Republican leaders, business groups, religious organizations and labor. Although House Republicans said they wanted to pursue their own, piecemeal approach, Speaker John Boehner has acknowledged that stands little chance of happening this year, as Congress becomes consumed with the looming midterm elections.

Refusing to wait any longer, immigration groups have grown increasingly critical of Obama, lambasting him in a stark departure from the broad support he long has enjoyed from Latinos generally. While Congress dawdles, Obama has stringently enforced the same immigration laws he insists must be fixed, advocates argue.

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

"For us, this president has been the deporter in chief," Janet Murguia, who heads the National Council of La Raza, said in a recent speech.

Pablo Alvarado, who heads the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said after Thursday's announcement that halting deportations is "now a consensus position." He said Obama now has no excuse to "continue his unjust deportation policy" and mustn't let immigrants fall victim to a Congress that is "held hostage by a vigilante wing of the Republican Party."

"Relief delayed is relief denied," Alvarado said.


O Really

I hope these "humane" changes don't include the illegals in the US hurting Americans. Like the idiot that shot & killed the 3 Americans in Fremont last weekend!


The best change Barack Hussein Obama can make to the immigration laws is to actually enforce them. And God forbid he would actually meet with anyone who isn't a liberal democrat. Wouldn't want him to find out what Americans really think.


You obviously don't know this President's deportation record.


EVERY family suffers pain when one of its members commits a crime. Those families go through trials and publicity, and they often have to deal with their loved one being sent away (to prison). They have to deal with the guilt of wondering if THEY did anything wrong to encourage, or to fail to stop, their loved one. And I'd bet that more than a few of them feel bad for the crime victim(s) whether they played any role in the crime itself or not.

So what exactly would the President's point be here? You commit a crime of ANY kind and you're risking separation from your family, and added hardship and pain for them. How is invading the country illegally any different from those other crimes?

I'm sick and tired of hearing people suggest that some crimes should just be ignored, and that some people should actually be REWARDED for their criminal action. When I can rob a bank without repercussion, and I can spend my ill-gotten gains and have people think I'm heroic for "contributing" to the economy, THEN we can talk about forgiving illegals. Until then, a criminal is a criminal, and he or she shouldn't be surprised at being treated like one.


What needs to be "reviewed"? If you are here illegally you are deported. It is simple if you do not want your family broke up, either A. Take your whole family and go back to your home country, B. Take the steps to legally stay here. Seems pretty simple to me. You knew the rules of the game when you came here to start with.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

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

This is about a generic statement that can be made to support a case. What kind of people were they? Is there an implication that gaining citizenship in a country not your own is some kind of human, fundamental right?

The fact the President is balking at this and not other things is proper but sadly ironic.

"Without new laws, it's unclear what Obama can do on his own."

What? WHAT? The laws already made should give a pretty clear direction on how he is to execute them. Go figure Congress doesn't write laws that have sections on "Don't like it? Here's what we'll allow you to do without our consent". Being President means doing things you may not want to do but must given your Constitutional duty and the oath you swear before God and everybody. It's not a cherry-picking wonderland of golf and rockstar dinners.


Pterocarya frax...

from HZ: "Is there an implication that gaining citizenship in a country not your own is some kind of human, fundamental right?"

No, it is not a human, fundamental right, but it is a fundamental American tenet. It is what this country was built on. Since when do conservatives not get this.

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I hope you at least know where the quote came from, but just in case you don't, it is engraved on the Statue of Liberty.



Free trade and open borders.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I appreciate the revisit to the book and Ellis Island. We are indeed a nation of immigrants. Even Native Americans supposedly immigrated here across the Bering Straight. But there is a difference between immigrating legally through lawful processing, paying certain fees, and assimilating into the culture as opposed to just crossing into the country, refusing to learn the language/culture, and/or demanding you are the same as the people who took the proper route.

For as much as I hear that our current system is "broken" I have yet to hear anyone say why it is so. It just gets parroted and becomes a vague notion like others I dislike.

Huddled masses are fine and all, but how many unskilled, illiterate (in their native language let alone English), and/or possibly dangerous people can we allow to exist in our society? It may be the case we're saturated with those already who are born here. Which, on a side note, I believe that the U.S. and Canada are the only two countries who apply citizenship by birth within the border alone. That itself is a part of the Constitution that could use some refurbishing since we are talking immigration reform. It's probably safe to say that any possible slave that could have been born on American soil has done so and been integrated into the citizenry.

Immigration IS an important tenant of our history, but so is the rule of law. Those who have done things properly should be given the opportunity to become a citizen because they have proven the desire to do so. Just because you overstay your visa or cross a border without authorization (both illegal acts) doesn't entitle you to the same privileges or place in line as those who have done things properly.

That's the hair up my butt about this particular issue. Please don't think me callous to people who want to live and work here. I put in many summers at Cedar Point working along "internationals" and was active with the International Student Union while at OU. But it is those people, the students and workers who applied through legal channels and fulfilled their requirements faithfully that we should laud and give priority to instead of anyone who can sneak by a (in my opinion) woefully understaffed border security force.

Which kind of behavior do you want to encourage? Which kind of immigrant do you want to add into our culture? Those are the questions that I believe are lost in the sea of presumptions around this issue. That and "what is broken about our current system"? I don't want to invoke a side discussion about the ACA here, but if that was health care reform who in the heck wants to "reform" our immigration system too with many of the same people in power using selective enforcement and constant changes to a "new law"?



There were 'brain drains' of educated professionals after the Cuban Revolution & the end of the Vietnam War.

Those societies losses were our gains.

The vast majority of immigrants I met and knew in Chicago, LOVED this country and appreciated the opportunities it granted.

Always enjoyed the story of the owner of the Jacksonville Jags:



The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

We scored some big brains prior to/during WWII as well! I've enjoyed my time working and learning beside people who came here. It was refreshing and educational. Especially when we see stories like the one you provided. It's for that reason why I want to encourage immigration, but ensure that those who are granted citizenship are the ones that you described and I also enjoyed: they will take up the opportunity and show a passion for participating in the nation fully having respect for the law.

Seems pretty "humane" and not egregiously cherry-picking/profiling to me!


Major problem:

The U.S. and Mexico are unique in that a first world country shares a border with a third world county.

However, Mexico's standard of living is gradually increasing with a growing middle class and there is little reason for some of them to illegally immigrate.

A big recent development:

The Mexes just opened up their oil production to outside cap-ex investment:


IOW: Things are changing, 'hopefully' for the better.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Hopefully. That being said what of China? Granted it's a bit harder for the stereotypical border crossing but there are birth hotels, etc. If nothing else, how does this bridge into our economy since they hold about $1T of our debt?



Not too concerned about their holding of Treasuries. One of the few stable assets that they own.

Everyone pretty much knows that the Chinese cook their books and that their numbers aren't to be trusted. These blow-ups should come as no surprise.

Historical economist, Niall Ferguson coined the term "Chimerica".

We are uniquely tied economically like few others ever have been in world history.


As Milton Friedman once noted: We send them paper, they send us stuff.

It's a good deal for us.


Speaking of Treasuries, looks like Russia may have sold some.


The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

How do they cook them? Is it that they don't count a finished product itself (like I presume we do)? I think I remember that is what the old Soviet Union did. Instead of a Big Mac as a unit they would offer not just the Big Mac as production but the beef, buns, lettuce, sesame seeds, special sauce, etc. in order to inflate "production".


Re: "How do they cook them?"

Deep fried. :)


Remember the Maalox.

Darwin's choice

"Community Organizer"

Enough said.


^^^^^^^^^Dufus^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Enough said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Republicans refuse to enact any Immigration reform, then gripe when nothing is accomplished on ....wait for it....Immigration Reform. Enough said.


Nobody is griping about immigration reform. It's obvious we need it! The argument comes in when different people decide to define "reform."

Those who favor Constitutional law -- and the law at ALL! -- would like to see existing laws enforced before any changes are made. Those who believe national security actually matters would like to see the borders secured before any changes are made. That side of the debate stands in direct opposition to those who have apparently decided that committing a crime is okay as long as it was committed for the "right" reasons.

Amnesty does nothing but reward criminal acts, undermine the economy (or don't you acknowledge the millions of LEGAL American citizens who are out of work?), risks keeping some really, REALLY bad guys within our borders, and encourages more criminals to commit the same crime.

I don't argue that immigration is important or that it should be encouraged. I can't argue that most of us wouldn't be here at all if not for immigration at SOME time in history. But those who want to live here need to show their interest in their proposed new country by following that country's laws, and the first of those they must follow is moving here LEGALLY.

I find it more than a little ironic that Mexico is all bent out of shape over deportations or the fact that our borders aren't largely symbolic, and yet its own immigration laws are draconian! REAL immigration reform doesn't mean going Mexico's direction. It means secure borders and the enforcement of the laws every DECENT American citizen has had to follow to obtain citizenship. (And what a slap in the face it is to THOSE citizens who worked their butts off to be here legally, and now they watch progressives minimize and undermine the entire process -- which, by the way, is there for a reason.)

The Big Dog's back

What Constitutional Laws on immigration would you like to see enforced?


The laws involved where we defend our borders from invasion. The part of the Constitution that defines citizenship (though it made sense at the time, the one thing that's GOT to change is the section that permits so-called "birthright" citizenship). The laws that define the process one must complete before citizenship is granted (though I'd add one more, and that's competency in the English language). And a restoration of those laws that formerly required immigrants to either be able to support themselves or have an American sponsor who would, and NOT be eligible welfare and the like. You know, the common sense ones? The ones that preserve sovereignty and add security? Yes, those.

The Big Dog's back

Be specific about the Constitution. Paragraph, line, section.


Love how you and Deertracker have adopted the words "enough said". I guess that gives you two the last word. What a pair.

The Big Dog's back

What would you like to add?

Steve P

clustfan, they are illegal, enough said.. If you want true immigration reform, increase the numbers for people who follow the LEGAL process. Who has blocked the most legislation on numerous issues, dirty Harry Reid, to protect dems facing the voters this year in the senate.


My mother was a legal immigrant from Europe. I remember her struggling to learn the English language by going to night classes and trying to read the local newspaper. After years, her turn to become a citizen came. As a little boy, I was at the ceremony. She kept the little flag they gave her on her dresser for many years.


THAT'S how it used to work. .... before Ted Kennedy's "Family Reunification Act of 1965" became law.

America is going broke paying for "anchor babies", most of which will never work or pay taxes.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Ah you are talking about chain migration?


The Big Dog's back

No, he's talking about the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. He also hates the Civil rights Act.

Steve P

Civil Rights Act, only passed when Congressional Republican Leadership broke a democrapper filibuster, The Immigration Law of 1965 had wide bi-partisan support.

The Big Dog's back

So what?

2cents's picture

I have friends that came here within the last thirty years, they followed all the rules, filled out all the papers before ever leaving their location, they did their five years residence and all have jobs, some own their own companies. There is a big difference between immigrants who come here following the rules and those who climb over fences, have on identification, are subject to enslavement and become a burden on US taxpayers. I say send the illegals back and they too can wait in line, fill out all the paperwork and be here legally just like most of your ancestors did.

Dr. Information

We have laws already. Why not enact them. Why throw more laws that will not be enforced like the current ones?

This is nothing more than Obama wanting a free pass for everyone.

Mr. D

Kind of like gun laws; they are in place and on the books, but are not enforced. Yet Obama wants more gun laws. Immigration laws, like gun laws are there, they just need to be enforced!!!