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Obama softens position on deportations, seeks review

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) makes remarks as (L-R) Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Rep. Juan Vargas (D-TX), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Rep.Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) listen, during a news on immigration reform, at the US Capitol, October 23, 2013, in Washington, DC. The Democrats called on House Republicans to work toward a comprehensive agreement, saying it would also improve the economy. UPI/Mike Theiler
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) makes remarks as (L-R) Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Rep. Juan Vargas (D-TX), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Rep.Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) listen, during a news on immigration reform, at the US Capitol, October 23, 2013, in Washington, DC. The Democrats called on House Republicans to work toward a comprehensive agreement, saying it would also improve the economy. UPI/Mike Theiler | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- President Obama called for a review of the administration's deportation polices to see if they can be carried out in a more sensitive manner, officials said.

During a meeting with top Hispanic lawmakers Thursday, Obama asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to inventory the department's current practices while adhering to the law, the Hill reported.

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Obama also emphasized his concern "about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system," the White House said in a readout of the meeting.

Obama's actions came as a number of liberal Democrats have pressured the White House to halt deportations because immigration reform stalled in Congress.

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The president has said he doesn't have the power to act without Congress' help, but has moved to ease deportations for some children brought into the U.S. illegally. In 2012, the administration began a program to halt deportations for qualified illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

On Thursday, Obama reiterated to Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra of California, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas his "strong desire to work together" to pass bipartisan reform even though a broad measure faces strong GOP opposition, the Hill said.

After the meeting, Gutierrez said Obama heard the pleas of the Latino community and immigration-rights advocates over the number of deportations, Politico said.

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"It is clear that the pleas from the community got through to the President," Gutierrez said in a statement. "The CHC [Congressional Hispanic Caucus] will work with him to keep families together. The president clearly expressed the heartbreak he feels because of the devastating effect that deportations have on families."

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