Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested Tuesday that the administration will soon pause controversial immigration raids that have upset congressional Democrats.
“I think you’re going to find a pause in these deportations,” the Democratic leader told reporters.Reid’s comments follow a discussion he had with with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier Tuesday. He said that Johnson “understood” Democrats’ concerns and that officials are moving toward a resolution.
Reid added that he isn’t sure when the administration might announce a policy shift.
The White House previously suggested it won’t change its stance, despite growing frustration among congressional Democrats over the immigration raids.
“We’re of course aware of these concerns. But the enforcement strategy and priorities that the administration has articulated are not going to change,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters last week.
The DHS arrested illegal immigrants after their petitions for asylum were denied, and Johnson has suggested that more raids could take place soon.
The immigration raids emerged as a key rift between President Obama and congressional Democrats ahead of the president’s final State of the Union speech.
While the administration has suggested it is simply following the law, lawmakers argue that some immigrants face risks to their safety if they are forced to return to Central American countries.
Late last week, Reid said the administration should “back off” the raids, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the immigrants were “desperately trying to escape violence in their home countries.”
House Democrats, who have said they were not consulted, stepped up their opposition hours ahead of the speech, circulating a letter that called on the Obama administration to change course.
The immigration rift has also spilled over into the 2016 presidential election, where each of the Democratic candidates have panned the administration’s moves.
Both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley want the administration to grant the protected status, allowing the immigrants to avoid deportation.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday called the administration’s maneuver “divisive, sewing discord and fear.”
—Updated at 4:10 p.m.