John Cádiz Klemack/Bobbie Eng
Immigrant advocacy groups are urging President Obama to stop the deportation of illegal immigrants, citing figures indicating that the U.S. has deported more immigrants under his watch than ever before. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.
A new approach for immigrant advocacy groups takes aim directly at the president.
Obamalegacy.com launched nationwide on Wednesday: going beyond the previous cries to Congress for immigration reform and instead using this 3-minute video to convince the president to sign an executive order to stop deportations of undocumented immigrants.
"The Latino community is sending a loud message that the President has a choice around his legacy," said Arturo Carmona, of presente.org, which gives a voice to the Latino community.
Presente.org is behind the video, calling the president the deporter in chief and using numbers the organization says come from political think tanks around the country. but some argue those facts.
"I don't buy it at all to declare one of the most liberal presidents this country has ever had somehow he is evil incarnate and the dictator in chief here, is rhetorically just over the top," said Joe Hicks, of Community Advocates, Inc. a political action group.
He said the figures represented on the website are misinterpreted.
"People basically caught at the border, turned around and sent back, not people caught in the interior, deep in Arizona or downtown here in LA or Pico Union," Hicks said.
The numbers from the Department of Homeland Security mirror those in the Obama ad but are a little more specific. Using 2013 numbers, some 370,000 deportations, but only 130,000 from the interior, the rest from along the border and more than 80 percent had criminal records.
But the organizers of two separate rallies in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday say families still feel the punch.
"They're destroying immigrant life,” Carmona said. “We're seeing unprecedented suffering, over a thousand deportations a day at the rate of over 400,000 deportations a year."
Gary Toebben, of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, said immigration has been part of California since gold was discovered in 1849.
Chamber of Commerce officials said that from an economic standpoint, the immigrant workforce is necessary to LA.
"Immigrants have played a major role in building Los Angeles and overall have been an asset to our city," Toebben said.
That asset has deep roots.
Manuel Pastor, a USC professor and director of the Center For Immigration Integration, says the undocumented immigrant community reaches beyond local immigrants.
"One in six of California's children has at least one undocumented parent,” he said. ”So when they risk deportation, that separates families and damages the next generation of Californians."
Yet the battle continues, and one that's been brewing for more than a decade now.
"Every nation in the world has some sort of immigration policy. Nobody says y'all come,” Hicks said.