The White House is under pressure from valuable immigration advocacy groups over the administration’s deportation policies.
Over the past year, the Obama administration has worked to establish a coalition of labor, liberal, business and evangelical groups to push an immigration reform bill through Congress.
The administration is now desperately trying to keep this coalition together at a time when it hopes to negotiate a final bill with the House of Representatives.
Last week, Damon Silvers, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization’s (AFL-CIO) policy director and special counsel, said “Deportations are effectively terrorizing the base.”
“From a political standpoint, they are like Frankenstein’s monster,” Silvers said. “If they had a political purpose, it was to show the administration is serious about enforcement. It’s now a policy run amok.”
Obama’s “answer [in his recent public Google Hangout] was that he would look at all that he could do,” Cristina Jimenez, managing director of advocacy group “United We Dream”, told Politico. “From our perspective, the president knew the answer. He is acknowledging that there is more that he could do and he knows that.”
White House spokesman Bobby Whithorne responded to the criticism last week, saying, “It’s important to remember that the president’s principles are well established and include an earned path to citizenship.”
“That’s been consistently communicated publicly and privately,” Whithorne said. “We remain hopeful folks will come together and get this done this year.”
According to 2013 data released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, officials say they deported a total of 368,644 people, fewer than 0.2 percent of an estimated 11.7 million illegal immigrant population.