THE HILL — House Democratic immigration reformers are vowing to continue pressing the Obama administration on deportations after a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that apparently failed to placate their concerns.
Johnson has been under fire from the Democrats since early last month, when DHS arrested more than 120 undocumented Central Americans with plans to send them home.
The DHS chief met last week on the topic with several Democrats, including Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who have led the chorus of lawmakers condemning the process with charges that immigrants seeking asylum are being denied sound legal protection.
While all sides are being tight-lipped about the closed-door discussion, the Democrats suggested that differences remain.
“The vast majority of Democrats made clear to the president … [the] concerns we had,” Lofgren said after the meeting, referring to a recent letter House Democrats sent to Obama urging a halt to the deportations. “And I think some of those issues are going to be addressed, … and some, we’re going to require additional discussion.”
Lofgren said the arrests have created a culture of fear and uncertainty in immigrant communities nationwide — a message the Democrats delivered to Johnson.
“It’s not as apparent to every American, but it’s 24/7 in the Spanish language press, and we need to own that issue because it was not intended,” she said. “And so there’s a need to make clear what the policy is, and what the policy isn’t.”
Gutiérrez was also very guarded about the meeting, expressing concerns that spilling details in the press would create “an environment [not] conducive to resolving the problem.”