L.A. City Council Asks Obama to Halt Deportations

December 19, 2013 AT 4:48 PM

By Kate Linthicum

The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution Wednesday calling on President Obama to halt most deportations of immigrants.

In a move led by Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents a heavily immigrant district on the city's Northeast side, the council urged Obama to a current program that allows certain undocumented young people to stay in the country legally. Cedillo said Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should be expanded to protect "all immigrant families who are not engaged in criminal activity."

He criticized the government for deporting people at record levels during Obama's tenure. Between 2008 and 2012, an estimated 1.5 million immigrants were deported, according to federal statistics. That's a faster rate than under President George W. Bush. During Bush's eight years in office, 2 million people were deported.

Cedillo, who stumped for Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign, said the president's record was disappointing.

"This is not the man that I campaigned for in Texas and Nevada and California," Cedillo said of Obama. "This is not the man whom we had such high hopes for as the champion of immigrants. Sadly he has become the champion of deportations."

Cedillo and his colleagues join a group of House Democrats who recently asked Obama to stop deportations for any immigrant in the country illegally who would qualify for legalization under immigration reform bills, including a proposal passed in the Senate that would grant a pathway to citizenship for most of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Officials in San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego are expected to take up similar resolutions soon.

Activists on the ground have also been raising the deportation issue, with two immigrant rights protesters disrupting a speech by the president on immigration in San Francisco last month.

There are some indications that the anti-deportation campaign may be working.

According to new data released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, deportations were on track to drop more than 10% in the last fiscal year, the first annual decline in more than a decade.

From Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the government deported 343,020 immigrants who were in the U.S. without permission, according to ICE. If that pace continued through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, the 12-month total would be 10% less than the previous year.

(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times