Politics won’t drive U.S. deportation review, security chief says

WASHINGTON,(Reuters) – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, charged by President Barack Obama with reviewing U.S. policies on deportation, said yesterday he would not let political considerations constrain him from making improvements to the system.

Johnson’s department is considering changes to policies that determine how illegal immigrants are selected for removal from the United States.

Obama has been pushing to revise U.S. immigration laws and create a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented residents.

But the bill that passed the Democratic-controlled Senate has languished in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, although administration officials say they still hold out hope for action within the next few months.

Announcing sweeping executive actions could cause a backlash among Republican supporters of immigration reform legislation, possibly complicating the effort to pass a bill. But Johnson told a Reuters Cybersecurity Summit that would not prevent him from making recommendations he deems appropriate.

“I can’t be allowed to be put in a strait jacket to do what I think is right simply because somebody says if you do even a little thing it’s going to affect the balance on the Hill,” Johnson said.

“If I think that there is a good idea to improve the system, to improve how we enforce and administer our immigration laws within the confines of the law, then I think I should … do that.”

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