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President Obama Promises More Humane Ways To Deportations As Democrats And Latinos Push On Issue

by: Omar Araiza

Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 10:30 AM CDT

Deportations under President Obama are days within reaching the 2 million mark, startling numbers when compared to other previous presidents, including Republicans like George W. Bush.

Since 2009, the Obama administration has deported an average of 395,500 immigrants per year. In comparison, the Bush administration's deportation numbers were at an average of 250,000 per year. This doesn't even take into consideration the fact that crossings were occurring at a much larger rate during the Bush administration.

A new survey shows Americans are split on deportation, with the majority of Latinos and Democrats viewing this huge increase under President Obama negatively.

Janet MurguĂ­a, president of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the country's largest Latino advocacy group and a loyal ally to Obama, shared her thoughts on the administration's record high number of deportations calling President Obama the "deporter-in-chief."

Read how Democrats and Republicans compare in attitudes, and how President Obama is reacting to the issue below the jump.

The Pew Research Center released new survey results regarding the spike in deportations and Americans' attitudes towards these numbers. As the topic of immigration continues to be a divisive issue among conservatives and liberals, the PRC survey results reflected these differences in attitudes. However, the survey does show hope for one day achieving comprehensive immigration reform.  

53% of Democrats view the percentage increase of undocumented immigrants being deported as negative. According to the same survey, 60% of Hispanics also view the current increase in deportations negatively.

Almost half of white Americans, 49%, view the percentage increase in deportations as positive. The majority of Republicans, 55%, also view this increase in deportations positively. More Independents view the increase of deportations positively than negatively, 46% to 43%.

In all, Americans are split by the numbers with 45% viewing the increase positively and 45% as negatively.

The same survey also shows a majority of Republicans, 64%, and Democrats, 81%, support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country upon meeting certain legal requirements. So there remains hope immigration reform can be settled soon.

While President Obama has done a tremendous job advocating for healthcare coverage, LGBT rights, among other issues, many Democrats and leaders in the Latino community continue to press Obama into easing the number of immigrant families being deported and separated.

Along with the NCLR, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Charles Schumer (D-New York), as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), have spoken out in support of immigrant families and against their deportations.

In an interview conducted by Telemundo in December of last year, Pelosi questioned whether these record high number of deportations were truly justified. "Our view of the law is, if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation," Pelosi told Telemundo. "If someone has broken the law or committed a felony or something, that is a different story."

Yet, according to statistics done by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the vast majority of undocumented immigrants being deported are not dangerous criminals. Four-fifths of all undocumented immigrants deported by ICE in 2013 did not fit the agency's definition of a "Level 1" priority.

President Obama initially dismissed criticism made towards him by other Democrats and Latino advocacy groups, declaring himself instead as "champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform."

But, just yesterday, perhaps after re-evaluating his strong support from Latino voters, President Obama met personally with several Democratic members in an effort to find more humane ways in issuing the deportations of undocumented immigrants.

The White House said in a statement President Obama "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."

Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) was one of the lawmakers in the meeting. Gutierrez will be presenting several options to Secretary Johnson next week, and from there Johnson will be able to meet with the rest of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for further discussions.

"It is clear that the pleas from the community got through to the president," said Gutierrez.

Immigration reform will continue to be a top priority for Democrats this year. President Obama promises to continue pressuring Republicans into acting on immigration, planning to meet this weekend with key organizations advocating for bipartisan immigration reform.

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