The Department of Homeland Security is reviewing policy to make deportations “more humane” under the orders of President Barack Obama.
DHS officials said Friday that the two policy changes would slow deportations, effectively stopping them for immigrants with no criminal convictions besides immigration violations. Deportations would focus on felons or undocumented residents who pose a threat to public safety.
Obama asked DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to make changes “more humanely within the confines of the law.” DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said that Johnson was looking at ways to "enforce our immigration laws effectively and sensibly, in line with our values,” but did not confirm any specific changes.
"It is fair to say that process is ongoing and will be conducted expeditiously," Boogaard said.
Obama met Thursday with Latino lawmakers over the still-stagnant immigration reform issue. The president expressed his concern for families who are the victims of inhumane deportations that separate parents from their children.
"It is clear that the pleas from the community got through to them,"said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, one of three Democrats at the meeting in which Obama announced the review. "The president clearly expressed the heartbreak he feels because of the devastating effect that deportations have on families."
Immigration advocates from the Latino community have criticized the president increasingly for failing to push Congress on immigration reform. Janet Murguia, president of the Latino advocacy group National Council of La Raza, recently labeled Obama “Deporter-in-Chief” in a speech.
The Obama administration is coming up to its 2 millionth deportation, the most of any administration in recent history. Many deportees are only guilty of overstaying their visas or entering the country illegally, and many have children who are U.S. citizens.