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Policy: Law

Obama, White House officials meet with immigration activists

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Politics,White House,Congress,Immigration,Barack Obama,Labor,PennAve,Border Security,Meghashyam Mali,Law,Jeh Johnson

President Obama and top White House officials on Friday met with leaders from groups pushing for comprehensive immigration reform as the administration launches a review of its deportation policies.

Those attending included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and representatives from Fast for Families, America's Voice, the National Immigration Forum and labor groups, among others.

Also at the meeting were Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who will head the effort, Obama counselor John Podesta, senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, director of legislative affairs Katie Beirne Fallon and Domestic Policy Council director Cecilia Munoz.

The nearly two-hour meeting came a day after the White House announced that Obama had called for a review of deportation policies to see if they could be carried out “more humanely within the confines of the law.”

Hispanic groups and immigration activists have been pressuring Obama to do more to halt deportations as reform legislation has stalled in Congress.

In 2012, Obama halted the deportation of some illegal immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children. But since then, despite pressure, he has insisted that real reform must come from Congress.

Obama has made immigration reform a second-term priority, but the GOP-controlled House has refused to take up a bipartisan Senate bill that passed last summer. The Senate’s comprehensive legislation creates a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughens border security and expands visa programs for high-skilled workers.

But conservative lawmakers in the House say they will only address the issue piecemeal and want to focus on border security first.

House Republican leaders unveiled their principles on immigration reform earlier this year, including support for letting illegal immigrants lawfully remain in the U.S. after meeting certain conditions.

But Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the plug on immigration reform this election year, blaming Obama. Boehner said Republicans did not trust Obama to enforce laws on the books.

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