US Immigrants Deportation
Immigration protest in Washington

United States President Obama has asked the government to find more humane ways to deport illegal immigrants from the US, AP has reported.

The request comes as immigration advocates have been pressurising Obama to halt deportations and push for an immigration overhaul.

Obama, who alone cannot modify deportation laws, announced he is willing to change current legislation.

"I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore any of the other laws that are on the books," he said in a speech with Spanish-language media outlets.

Obama then added he might become more inclined to test the limits of his authority in the face of congressional inaction.

Referring to an executive order he issued in 2002, removing the threat of deportation for children brought to the US illegally, he said he had "stretched my administrative capacity very far".

During a meeting with three Latino lawmakers Obama said he was deeply concerned about the pain families suffer when they are separated due to "a broken immigration system".

According to a statement by the White House: " He [Obama] told the members that he has asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of the department's current practices to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law".

Immigration groups have grown increasingly critical of Obama , lambasting him for having stringently enforced the same immigration laws he insisted must be fixed, campaigners argued.

Obama still intends to pressure Republicans to pass an immigration overhaul, the White House said .

Republicans, however, have already insisted they are reluctant to rewrite immigration laws.

Pablo Alvarado, who heads the National Day Laborer Organising Network, said Obama now has no excuse to "continue his unjust deportation policy", and must not let immigrants fall victim to a Congress that is "held hostage by a vigilante wing of the Republican Party".

Obama is expected to halt deportations for parents of children brought to the US illegally, among other steps.

Under Obama's leadership, almost 2 million people have been removed from the US, AP said.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), nearly 368,644 illegal immigrants were removed in 2013.

Centre for Immigration Studies (CIS), said the number of immigrants deported by ICE in 2012 amounted to 410,000. 

Total deportations in 2011, the latest year for which complete numbers are available, numbered 715,495, CIS said.