The White House reached out to several key members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus asking them to postpone or cancel a vote on the deportations resolution, multiple CHC sources told BuzzFeed.
As a compromise, a meeting with President Barack Obama and CHC leadership was brokered. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Following the meeting, the White House sent a readout to reporters, saying that President Obama has directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to review “current practices to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law.”
“The President emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system,” the White House said.
This comes on the heels of the CHC being blasted for leaked plans to release mild demands on the president concerning record deportations and then a change of heart to strengthen its position in a resolution that was planned to be released Thursday.
Now the Obama administration has taken note, inviting the CHC to a meeting at the White House as the issue of deportations has exploded into public view among Democrats and immigration advocates.
CHC Chairman Rubén Hinojosa, House Democratic caucus chairman Xavier Becerra, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez have been invited to the meeting.
The three CHC leaders are set to meet with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi before meeting with the president, a source said.
“They’re having a conversation today but they’re keeping very silent, they’re not commenting,” said Cesar Vargas, a DREAMer and activist.
On his way to the White House, Gutierrez declined to comment.
Rep. Raul Grijalva spoke about the resolution that still needs to be dealt with — the CHC is expected to meet later Thursday evening.
“We still have to deal with the resolution that’s on the table. The choices are kind of limited at this point,” he said. “We either go forward and vote up or down on the resolution. They could come back and say hold off on the resolution we’re making progress, or they could come back and say the president said he can’t do anything. Then the resolution is still alive. There has to be some closure, some of us can’t keep stringing ourselves out on this thing.”
A source close to the CHC said members have their own reservations about what stopping deportations might mean. They say if Obama suspends deportations then it would give Republicans more ammunition to float impeachment, which brings them no closer to comprehensive immigration legislation.
“Let them try to impeach him, who gives a shit?” the source said. “They would be voting to impeach the president for helping the families of undocumented veterans.”
While the White House seeks to stop or slow the resolution that planned to demand a suspension of deportations for those who would be protected by the bipartisan Senate bill, activists say it will be hard for the Latino leaders to backtrack now.
“I think for them to give in and not release a resolution would be a defeat. The CHC needs to stand up for families and make a strong statement that they won’t yield to whatever ceremonial conversation they have with the president,” Vargas said. “We don’t expect much from the president but we do expect a lot from Becerra, Gutierrez, and Hinojosa.”
3. The Readout On The Meeting From The White House
The President met with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Ruben Hinojosa, CHC Immigration Task Force Chair Luis Gutierrez, and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra in the Oval Office this evening. The discussion focused on their mutual efforts to pass commonsense immigration reform legislation through the House of Representatives this year. The President emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system. He told the members that he has asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of the Department’s current practices to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law. The President thanked the Members of the CHC for their work on these challenging issues, and expressed his strong desire to work together to put pressure on Congressional Republicans to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.
UPDATE: This post has been updated with information from the White House following the meeting with CHC members.