This week, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution calling on Obama to suspend deportations of all individuals who lack serious criminal histories, joining House Democrats who have asked the president to stop removals of any immigrants who would qualify for legalization under proposed immigration reform bills. A coalition of immigrant rights groups is pushing for the passage of similar resolutions in other major California cities.
The Senate passed an immigration bill in June that would create a 13-year pathway to citizenship for many of those in the country illegally as well as boost spending on border security by more than $30 billion. That legislation has stalled in the Republican-controlled House.
Republicans may take up a series of more narrowly framed immigration bills in the spring. The president has said he won't sign an immigration bill unless it includes a way for some of the 11 million people in the country without authorization or who overstayed their visas to eventually become U.S. citizens. The idea of a separate pathway to citizenship for people who entered the country illegally has become a sticking point for many House Republicans.
A Pew Research Center poll released Thursday showed that changing the law to end the threat of deportation remains the top priority for Latinos. By 55 percent to 35 percent, Latinos polled said being able to live and work in the U.S. legally was more important than a pathway to citizenship. Among Latino immigrants who came to the U.S. legally, just 44 percent have become citizens, according to the Pew study.
Over Obama's tenure, the administration has moved away from raids on workplaces and has used criminal databases to help identify and deport people with criminal convictions. Of the people deported in the 2013 fiscal year, 216,810 had been previously convicted of a crime or immigration violation. That was 59 percent of all those removed, up from 31 percent five years ago.