US & Canada

Immigration: Obama orders deportation review

Students eat lunch at a predominantly Latino primary school in California Image copyright AP
Image caption The growth of Latino communities in the US has made their vote increasingly important

US President Barack Obama has directed officials to review how to enforce immigration laws "more humanely".

The White House said Mr Obama spoke to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson after meeting three Latino lawmakers.

The manoeuvre follows stalled efforts in Congress to pass immigration reform before November's midterm elections.

Two million unauthorised immigrants have been deported under the Obama administration, earning him the nickname "deporter in chief".

'Dormant too long'

"The president emphasised his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system," said a statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday.

It added: "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."

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Media caption"The internet is the safest place to look for things when you are undocumented"

It remains unclear, however, what will result from the homeland security review.

Mr Obama recently announced he had already stretched his presidential powers to the maximum on deportation.

Republicans have criticised Mr Obama recently for circumventing Congress through the use of executive orders.

Conservatives have also said they do not expect to pass immigration reform before November's polls.

The Senate passed a bill last June that would have, among other measures, created a pathway to citizenship for about 11 million immigrants in the US illegally. But the legislation went nowhere in the House of Representatives.

Calls for action on the issue have mounted from the Latino community, with one congressman saying the White House has been "dormant for too long" on the matter.

But "it is clear that the pleas from the community got through to the president", Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, one of the three Hispanic lawmakers who met Mr Obama on Thursday, told the Associated Press news agency.

Immigration activists want to halt deportations of parents whose children were brought to the US illegally.

Such separation of families is in part due to a 2012 executive order that removed the threat of deportation for children taken into the US illegally, without extending the protection to their parents.

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