President Barack Obama Thursday referred to himself as “champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform” in response to criticism about record number of deportations, USA Today reported.

At a Hispanic town hall meeting held in Washington, one of the moderators asked the president why Latinos should trust him, informing him that “his reputation had been tarnished among Latinos over deportations.”

Obama replied: “Until Congress passes new laws, I am constrained in what I’m able to do.” Until then, he said, he’s bound by law to deport illegal immigrants.

The Pew Research Center reported last year that under the Obama administration, deportations of illegal immigrants have risen to record levels.