The top White House spokesman took a dig at Donald Trump's shifting immigration stance on Tuesday, and defended President Obama's decision to continue to deport immigrants in large numbers during his time in office.

Asked how Obama's deportation policy differs from the one Trump is currently espousing, which is to prioritize deporting immigrants with criminal records and those who are a danger to national security, Earnest said it was hard to tell.

"I guess it depends on which day you ask," presidential press secretary Josh Earnest remarked.

He also dismissed criticism from some Hispanic groups that have dubbed Obama the "deporter-in-chief" for sending illegal immigrants back to their countries of origin in what they say are record numbers.

"When it comes to the president's record on this, we've made clear ... exactly what our enforcement priorities are going to be," he said. "Those priorities are: individuals that have a criminal record, individuals who pose a threat to national security or individuals who have only recently crossed the border.

"The administration has been quite serious about making sure that we enforce the law, and that's exactly what this administration has done ... consistent with our values," he added.

Some law enforcement groups dispute the number of Obama administration deportations and deny it amounts to a record level, saying that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has changed the way they classify deportations during the president's tenure.

The administration's focus, he said, has been on "deporting felons, not breaking up families," an approach he said which has allowed more spending on border security and the most resources "in terms of equipment and technology and personnel on the border than any time in our history."

He also said there would be more resources to protect the border if Republicans in the House hadn't blocked a bipartisan Senate effort to overhaul the country's immigration system several years ago.

Their decision to "buck" that bill, Earnest said, only "perpetuated a system that even Sen. [Marco] Rubio describes as the closest thing we have to amnesty."

"But that's on the consciences of Republicans who have failed to deal with the situation," he said.