WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday he’s re-evaluating the Obama administration’s deportation priorities to make certain they’re focused on national security, public safety and border security, amid growing pressure from the Latino community and President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats.
Johnson spoke Wednesday after a closed-door meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which has been pressuring the administration to scale back the high number of deportations since Obama took office. The number now stands near 2 million.
Activists contend many people are deported who pose no threat, have little or no criminal record, and are being sent away even if they have entrenched families in the U.S.
With comprehensive immigration legislation stalled in the House, activists are increasingly looking to Obama for a solution. The president announced last month that Johnson would be conducting a review to see if deportation practices can be more humane.
That review is now under way. Johnson gave no hint of a timetable or ultimate conclusions in his brief remarks to reporters Wednesday, but he did indicate he’s learning of issues with the current system, which the Obama administration has defended.
“I have heard a number of cases that lead me to want to reevaluate our priorities to make sure we’re getting this right, and that’s what I’m doing right now,” said Johnson.
“I am dedicated and committed to ensuring that our removal priorities are focused on threats to national security, public safety and border security.”
Earlier in his administration Obama granted deportation relief to certain immigrants brought here illegally as children, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants the president to expand that to other low-risk groups, such as parents of children who are U.S. citizens because they were born in this country.
Activists have been fasting on the National Mall and outside the White House to bring attention to the issue.