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DHS Head, Latino Lawmakers Hash Out Deportation Alternatives

While families of deportees staged a protest at the White House, the chief of immigration enforcement met with Hispanic leaders to hash out potential ways to curb deportations of non-criminals.

No decisions came from the Capitol meeting, but Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he is “actively, personally thinking about reforms to our process.”

“There's no question that the administration is working with us and that these are very complicated issues that need to be resolved,” said Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman.

The U.S. House has failed to advance any of its own immigration reform bills to floor votes, shifting pleas for action to Obama who has said that while he can take limited steps, much of the work must be done by Congress.

Hoping to demonstrate the urgency for some households, families of deportees are staging a hunger strike at a park across Pennsylvania Ave. from the White House. The hunger strikers are Naira Zapata, 19, whose husband has been deported twice; Jose Valdez, 55, whose son was deported and Cynthia Diaz, 18, whose mother is in detention. A group of more than 100 women also staged a 48-hour fast on the National Mall.

“Every day we go without reform is another day that millions of children must live in fear that their mom or dad may be taken away,” said Wendy Cervantes, one of the fast participants.

Also Wednesday, immigration activists were to finish their seven-week, 15,000-mile “Fast For Families” bus tours that took them to more than 80 congressional districts on two cross-country routes.

Democrats trying to force a vote in the House on an immigration bill. Their petition had 191 signatures last Friday, but needs 218.