Washington (CNN) – After coming under fire from activists who labeled him "deporter in chief," President Barack Obama is asking his administration to find better, more humane ways of administering current immigration law, the White House said Thursday.
Obama ordered his Homeland Security chief, Jeh Johnson, to conduct 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 after Obama met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Immigration reform has remained a top agenda item for Obama this year after it failed to gain traction in the GOP-controlled House in 2013. A bipartisan immigration measure that passed the Senate stalled in the lower chamber, though House Speaker John Boehner has said he's open to taking up piecemeal measures in the coming months.
Immigration reform proponents have urged Republicans to pass some kind of overhaul, though recently they've also taken aim at Obama, who they criticize for overseeing a rise in deportations. They've called on him to issue an executive order that would halt the procedures, though his aides have said that's impossible.
Obama, in 2012, did sign an order that stopped the deportations of some young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents.
Last week, the president of the pro-immigration reform National Council of La Raza harshly chastised the President for not doing more to end deportations.
"For us, this President has been the deporter in chief," Janet Murguía said at the organization's annual gala.
"Any day now, this administration will reach the two million mark for deportations. It is a staggering number that far outstrips any of his predecessors and leaves behind it a wake of devastation for families across America," Murguía said.
On Thursday, the White House said Obama, during his meeting with Hispanic lawmakers, "emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system."
A senior administration official said the President's call for a review of enforcement policies should not be seen as a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform.
A White House official also said the President will meet Friday at the White House with organizations committed to passing bipartisan commonsense immigration reform.
Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus immigration task force, said in a statement that Thursday's meeting opened a "new dialogue between the CHC and the White House that had been dormant for too long."
"The CHC members who met with the President were adamant that the President needed to act," he said. "I agree with the President that the ultimate solution and responsibility for fixing our broken immigration system rests with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and we will work together to demand Republicans take action."
Gutierrez said he would meet with Johnson next week to present options.
CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.
This is why the US needs a two step pathway to citizenship. If immigrants are here, in the US, working hard, paying taxes, they really should not be deported. Especially when families are being broken up. Obviously this would not apply to criminals or those here breaking the law but in all other cases, it is a little insensitive to just break up families. Working hard, following the rules, no deport. Law breakers, criminals, deport.
We need our immigration laws enforced and all illegal aliens should be deported. We have laws and ICE should be enforcing these laws and NOT pandering to special interest groups. President Obama is wrong. In 1986 we tried Amnesty and now we have 12 million more illegal aliens living in the United States. Its time for the Federal Government to do the job they are being paid for and deport all these illegal aliens. If President Obama can't do this then he should be impeached.
Why do democrats actually think Hispanics are the only illegals?
Alternatives from his favorite activity? For someone who says he wants immigration reform, he sure does use the current system to deport as many illegal immigrants as he can. Obama has never been a friend to the Hispanic community who supports him so blindly.
Mr. President, we don't want to deport you. Relax.
Funny – I always thought you either deport someone or the alternative is you don't. Looking for something more humane? How about you buy them a first class ticket rather than the cheap seats?
There is a culture of xenophobia and hatred of immigrants being regularly spewed over Clear Channel Radio's 850 stations (owned my Mitt Romney) Fox News and a cluster of other Right Wing Media sources that has demonized immigrants to this country and paralyzed Congress from making much needed changes in America's Immigration policies. That has to stop.
How about internment camps? Feed them in return for labor.
Obama, follow the law and administer it. Stop behaving as if you are above the law.
If La Raza wants to stop deportations try to help stop illegal immigration. Illegal is illegal period. You break the law by coming here illegally then you risk being imprisoned and/or deported. How much more plain can it get?
How about instead of deporting them, we give them passports and allow them to vote?
Hmm.. let's see... what would be an alternative to a deportation? I got it! non-deportation.
Start with justin bieber
Anything to keep his party's voting base the country.
This president is the worst. If you're an illegal get out of my country or be deported. That's the way it should be.
Within 15 or 20 years, today's American youth will wonder how in the heck they could have been so stupid as to elect obama to the presidency and then re-elect him. They destroyed their future..
What garbage, first they complained he was not keeping them out, now he's doing to much, you really don't see it do you rwnj, its right there, you guys have zero integrity, zero.
Gop, hypocracy in it's purest form .
If any one breaks the law, just deport. They are after our SS, Medicare, now Healthcare.
PS: please include Ted Cruz too therein.