Obama vows more humane immigration law enforcement

WASHINGTON Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:44pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before signing a Presidential Memorandum on modernizing the overtime system to help insure workers are paid fairly for their work while in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before signing a Presidential Memorandum on modernizing the overtime system to help insure workers are paid fairly for their work while in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has directed his Department of Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws "more humanely," the White House said on Thursday.

The president made the pledge at a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the White House.

Obama pledged to work with them to pressure congressional Republicans to pass immigration reform, a second-term priority for him that appears stalled.

"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.

The president has come under fire from Latino groups for deportation practices, and immigration rights groups urged him to back his words with action.

"The president has no excuse to continue his unjust deportation policy,' the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said in a statement.

Despite some support, congressional Republicans are divided over immigration reform and party leaders have made clear legislation is unlikely to be taken up before the November congressional elections. Republicans hope to extend their advantage in the House of Representatives and regain control of the Senate.

In not waiting for Congress to act on immigration, Obama is following a pattern he has used to advance his agenda in other areas that congressional Republicans have opposed, such as raising the minimum wage. Unable to get lawmakers interested in legislation, the president used his executive power to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors.

Obama's record on enforcing immigration laws has been a sore spot for some reform advocates. The president faced criticism in his first term for not using his executive power to ease deportations of illegal immigrants.

But before his re-election in 2012, he had Homeland Security temporarily halt deportations of undocumented children who were brought to the United States by their parents.

The president has enjoyed strong support among Hispanic voters and wants to rally support for Democrats in November's elections. But he has faced criticism from some Latino groups for not pushing harder on immigration reform.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Peter Cooney and Ken Wills)

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Comments (9)
actnow wrote:
Stay in the fight America. Citizens are helping to turn the tide so that our voices are being heard instead of just the open border advocates and the greedy businesses that think only of their bottom lines instead of the impact to workers, tax payers, the environment, and the whole concept of the rule of law and our democracy itself. NumbersUSA dot com is an awesome site to help citizens take effective action NOW and it is very easy to use. It is up to all citizens to get into this fight while we still can have an impact. Don’t get angry, get involved!

Mar 13, 2014 11:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Overcast451 wrote:
Unless you are in Gitmo or otherwise deemed an ‘enemy combatant’ of course – then you get held without trial, just like tyrants have done for centuries.

Mar 14, 2014 8:23am EDT  --  Report as abuse
COindependent wrote:
By the time we get to November, this President should have a 100% pandering rate for every Dem special interest group. Let’s see: minimum wage, cop killer’s defense attorney, illegal immigrants….the perpetual campaign continues.

Mar 14, 2014 8:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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