Hispanic Caucus Regroups as Obama Promises Deportation Review

Becerra said he expects the CHC to meet with the secretary of Homeland Security. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus will hold off on pursuing a resolution calling for the White House to take action to decrease deportations after President Barack Obama on Thursday evening promised to closely examine the issue. Such a resolution coming from his own base would have been politically embarrassing for Obama, who has already come under fire from Democratic allies for suggesting his hands are tied when it comes to revising his administration's deportation policies.

Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., even went so far as to call Obama on the House floor last week the "Deporter-in-Chief" and "dishonest."

But Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, stressed on Friday that the resolution was not off the table entirely.  

"Action on the resolution is deferred," Castro told reporters. "It's not dead." Meanwhile, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California, also a member of the CHC, expressed unwavering confidence in the president's newfound determination to explore options for re-examining how to work within the confines of the law to prevent deportations that break up families.  

"I saw more conviction at his face to get this done at this meeting ... than I've seen in a long time," said Becerra, who, along with Gutierrez and CHC Chairman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas, met with Obama on Thursday night at the White House. "I think he's really zeroed in that it's so doable, so he's focused on getting a vote [on a House immigration overhaul bill] and also working to make sure that his administration is trying to enforce the law as smartly as we can."  

Becerra added that he expected the CHC to meet with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who will be leading the deportation policy review, as soon as the House reconvenes after the upcoming weeklong recess.  

"The president has made it clear: He is ready to take a look at how we continue to make this work better," Becerra said. "He himself said, 'You can tell folks that you talk to' — meaning a lot of these families — 'the heartbreak is felt here in the Oval Office.'"  

While the developments may be positive for the CHC, other congressional Democrats and activists fighting for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration system, the Obama administration runs the risk of further alienating Republicans.  

Just this week, House Republicans put two bills on the floor aimed at curtailing Obama's discretion to enact policies without going through Congress, which they allege are overreaches of his power. Obama's 2012 order to defer deportations for young immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents — the "Dreamers" — is one such policy targeted in the two bills, and one the GOP has called unlawful.  

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.