Mar 19 9:45 AM

Is President Obama a friend or foe in the fight for immigration reform?

As comprehensive immigration reform seems out of reach for his administration, President Barack Obama is feeling the heat from Hispanics and other minorities.

At an immigration event in San Francisco last November, President Obama was heckled by a member of the White House–approved backdrop.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo/ AP Images

While giving a speech on immigration in San Francisco last November, the president was interrupted by a young man angry over his immigration policy. He said he had been separated from his family like thousands of others from immigrant families and shouted, "Stop the deportation! Stop the deportation!"

2013 Getty Images

What you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States and I come to this community, is that if, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. — President Obama

The president is caught between a stalled immigration reform effort and laws he must enforce. Now even those who strongly supported Obama are calling him "deporter in chief."

Unless there is a change in policy, the president will soon reach a difficult milestone: 2 million deportations since he took office in 2009.

Public opinion is split as the Obama administration deports individuals who are in the U.S. illegally at a high rate.

The pressure on the president has been great. From the Hispanic Caucus in Congress to the larger immigrant communities who voted overwhelmingly in support of Obama in 2012, communities affected by deportation are impatient for change and calling for a moratorium on the expulsions.

President Obama has asked the Department of Homeland Security to find a solution.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

What the president has asked Secretary Johnson to do is conduct a review of practices to ensure that within the confines of the law we are carrying out these policies in the most humane way possible, because he is very cognizant of the pain that families who are separated have been feeling as a result of deportations. — White House press secretary Jay Carney

Republicans have shown little interest in immigration reform. Senate legislation that would have created a path toward citizenship and increased border security has met resistance in the House.

Furthermore, Republican House members drafted a bill that would allow Congress to sue the president for failing to enforce immigration laws.

Thousands of people marched for comprehensive immigration reform in more than 150 events nationwide in October 2013.
2013 Getty Images

Obama has said he will not suspend deportations because he cannot legally do so. Additionally, the president said he will not expand the protections he put in place in 2012 for people who came here illegally as children.

Hemmed in by current law and with a limit to his executive power, the president can do little to change the immigration status quo without the help of a reluctant Congress.

To what extent is it up to the discretion of President to slow deportation?

Did Obama deport 2 million people in vain to shore up conservatives who would never go for it anyway?

Do you think all of this is causing the President to be in danger of losing Latino support?

Did Obama deport 2 million people in vain to shore up conservatives who would never go for it anyway?

We consulted a panel of immigration experts for the Inside Story.


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