Obama's Parting Gift to the Caribbean
In one of his last acts before demitting office, United States President Barack Obama is shortly to initial legislation aimed at deepening relations between the US and the Caribbean, with special emphasis on energy security, countering violence, expanding diplomacy and providing educational exchange opportunities for citizens of the region.
The far-reaching legislation called the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (HR 4939), was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, following earlier passage by the Senate.
Jamaica's Dr Richard Bernal, former ambassador to the United States who gave testimony to Congress in support of HR 4939 at hearings in Washington DC last July, was elated at the passage of the Bill by Congress.
"A democratic, peaceful and prosperous Caribbean Basin is in the interest of both the United States of America, which views the region as its Third Border, and the Caribbean for which the US is a vitally important economic and security partner," Bernal told the Jamaica Observer.
The Bill mandates the Department of State, through the secretary of state and the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to submit to Congress a multi-year strategy for US engagement with the Caribbean region and report annually to the appropriate congressional committees on efforts to implement such strategy.
It was initiated and piloted by Representative Elliott Engels, the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a former chair of the committee, both of whom said they were motivated by the belief that "the countries of the Caribbean are profoundly important to the United States".
Congressman Engels said: "With constant crises around the globe that demand US attention we must not lose sight of our long-term interests close to home. At a time when our friends in the Caribbean need us more than ever, this bill will prioritise our partnership with the sub-region for many years to come. It is long past time to have a multi-year strategy that will allow us to increase engagement with the Caribbean, especially when it comes to energy and security."
Obama's library materials to travel from capital to Illinois
ILLINOIS, United States (AP) — Some of the White House materials bound for President Barack Obama's presidential library in Chicago will start making their way from Washington, D.C., to Illinois this week.
The Chicago Tribune reports that beginning Wednesday; commercial trucks will carry documents, artefacts and gifts accumulated over Obama's tenure to a temporary storage facility in Hoffman Estates, a north-west suburb of Chicago.
Air Force Lt Col Vianesa Vargas says over two dozen troops in Washington, DC, will take materials now stored at the National Archives and Records Administration and load them onto semitrailers for the 700-mile trip.
She says about 40 sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes will unload the material in Hoffman Estates.
Vargas says the trucks are expected to make 24 trips between now and February.
President Obama Announces New Steps to Fix Our Broken Immigration System
WASHINGTON — November 20, 2014 (Whitehouse.gov) In an address to the nation, President Obama lays out the executive action he's taking to fix our nation's broken immigration system.
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, tonight, I'd like to talk with you about immigration.
For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It's kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities — people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.
But today, our immigration system is broken — and everybody knows it.
Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.
It's been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven't done much about it.
When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it's been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.
Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn't perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.
Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.
Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.
Tonight, I am announcing those actions.
First, we'll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.
Second, I'll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.
Third, we'll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.
I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we're also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous. That's why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that's why we're going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who's working hard to provide for her kids. We'll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.
But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally. And let's be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn't realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn't being straight with you. It's also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: "They are a part of American life."
Now here's the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we're going to offer the following deal: If you've been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you're willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you'll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That's what this deal is.
Now, let's be clear about what it isn't. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not going to deport you.
I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it's not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -– millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.
That's the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I'm describing is accountability — a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you're a criminal, you'll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.
The actions I'm taking are not only lawful, they're the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.
I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, don't let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue. That's not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn't shut down our government again just because we disagree on this. Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose — a higher purpose.
Most Americans support the types of reforms I've talked about tonight. But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home. Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don't like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship.
I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they've gotten the raw deal for over a decade. I hear these concerns. But that's not what these steps would do. Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it's important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other's character.
Because for all the back and forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It's about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.
Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?
Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents' arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works together to keep them together?
Are we a nation that educates the world's best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?
That's what this debate is all about. We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration. We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears. I know the politics of this issue are tough. But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it.
Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids. I've seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn't have the right papers. I've seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love.
These people — our neighbors, our classmates, our friends — they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America's success.
Tomorrow, I'll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn't speak any English. She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and she became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mom cleaned other people's homes. They wouldn't let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn't love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant — so she applied behind their back and got in. Still, she mostly lived in the shadows — until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn't travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.
Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.
My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -– that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.
That's the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That's the tradition we must uphold. That's the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless this country we love.
Statement by the President on Commonsense Immigration Reform
Senators Schumer and McCain briefed me on the bipartisan immigration reform bill that they have drafted with their colleagues in the Senate. This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me. But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally. And it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we're able to reunite families and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy.
These are all commonsense steps that the majority of Americans support. I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward and, as I told Senators Schumer and McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.
State of the union 2013: Obama pledges new deal for U.S. middle classPresident urges Congress to work 'on behalf on the many' while laying out plans to tackle immigration and gun control
(Chris McGreal -
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday, February 13, 2013)
Barack Obama has pledged in the annual state of the union address to use his second presidential term to restore "the basic bargain" which built the US into the world's greatest economic power by ensuring prosperity for the great bulk of Americans and not the privileged few.
The president made wide-ranging proposals for investments in schools and infrastructure, and a sharp increase in the minimum wage to ensure that "no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty" as he told Congress that it is this generation's task to return to a time when US governments represented all the people. But he also pledged that his proposals will not add to the US's burgeoning deficit.
"It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love," the president said. "It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation of ours."
Obama used the speech to call for fairness and decency in other areas of American political life – from immigration reform and gay rights to legislation to protect women from violence and to reduce the terrible toll in lives claimed by guns.
But it was jobs and the economy that the president built his speech around. He said that after a gruelling recession, the economy has turned around and job numbers are rising. "Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger," he said.
But Obama said that many of those who have worked hard to pull America out of the economic crisis have been left behind. "Our economy is adding jobs – but too many people still can't find full-time employment. Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs – but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged," he said.
The president said it was wrong that in such a rich country working people should live hand-to-mouth.
'Now's the time' to move on immigration, Obama says
(By Dan Lothian, Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen, CNN)
Las Vegas (CNN) -- President Barack Obama threw his full support behind a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws on Tuesday, saying "now's the time" to replace a system he called "out of date and badly broken."
The president specified three pillars of immigration reform: better enforcement of immigration laws, providing a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, and reforming the legal immigration system.
Speaking at a majority Hispanic high school in Las Vegas, Obama said "a broad consensus is emerging" behind the issue across the country, with signs of progress in Congress.
However, he acknowledged a fierce debate ahead on an issue he described as emotional and challenging, but vital to economic growth and ensuring equal opportunity for all.
"At this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that's very encouraging," Obama said, later adding: "This time, action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate."
The president spoke a day after eight senators -- four from each party -- introduced a framework for overhauling the immigration system that would provide an eventual path to citizenship for most of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.
While touted as a breakthrough by its drafters, the plan was similar in many aspects to previous immigration reform efforts that have failed in recent years.
Obama described the blueprint as a sign of renewed desire by Democrats and Republicans to tackle the issue, saying the plan was "very much in line with the principles I've proposed and campaigned on for the last few years."
He was criticized by Latino activists for failing to deliver on a 2008 campaign promise to make overhauling immigration policy a priority of his first term.
As his re-election campaign heated up last year, the Obama administration announced a halt to deportations of some young undocumented immigrants in a move that delighted the Latino community.
Obama Lays Out Battle Plan as He Launches Second Term
A confident President Barack Obama kicked off his second term on Monday with an impassioned call for a more inclusive America that rejects partisan rancor and embraces immigration reform, gay rights and the fight against climate change. Obama's ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol was filled with traditional pomp and pageantry, but it was a scaled-back inauguration compared with the historic start of his presidency in 2009 when he swept into office on a mantle of hope and change as America's first black president.
Despite expectations tempered by lingering economic weakness and a politically divided Washington, Obama delivered a preview of the priorities he intends to pursue - essentially a reaffirmation of core liberal Democratic causes - declaring Americans "are made for this moment" and must "seize it together." His hair visibly gray after four years in office, Obama called for an end to the partisanship that marked much of his first term in the White House in bitter fights over the economy with Republicans.
"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said from atop the Capitol steps overlooking the National Mall.
Looking out on a sea of flags, Obama addressed a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people that was smaller than the record 1.8 million who assembled on the mall four years ago.
Speaking in more specific terms than is customary in an inaugural address, he promised "hard choices" to reduce the federal deficit without shredding the social safety net and called for a revamping of the tax code and a remaking of government.
The Democrat arrived at his second inauguration on solid footing, with his poll numbers up, Republicans on the defensive and his first-term record boasting accomplishments such as a U.S. healthcare overhaul, financial regulatory reforms, the end of the war in Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
But fights are looming over budgets, gun control and immigration. Obama, however, has sounded more emboldened because he never again needs to run for election.
President Obama Named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2012By Michael Scherer | TIME Magazine
Twenty-seven years after driving from New York City to Chicago in a $2,000 Honda Civic for a job that probably wouldn't amount to much, Barack Obama, in better shape but with grayer hair, stood in the presidential suite on the top floor of the Fairmont Millennium Park hotel as flat screens announced his re-election as President of the United States. The networks called Ohio earlier than predicted, so his aides had to hightail it down the hall to join his family and friends. They encountered a room of high fives and fist pumps, hugs and relief.
The final days of any campaign can alter the psyches of even the most experienced political pros. At some point, there is nothing to do but wait. Members of Obama's team responded in the only rational way available to them — by acting irrationally. They turned neckties into magic charms and facial hair into a talisman and compulsively repeated past behaviors so as not to jinx what seemed to be working. In Boca Raton, Fla., before the last debate, they dispatched advance staff to find a greasy-spoon diner because they had eaten at a similar joint before the second debate, on New York's Long Island. They sent senior strategist David Axelrod a photograph of the tie he had to find to wear on election night: the same one he wore in 2008. Several staffers on Air Force One stopped shaving, like big-league hitters in the playoffs. Even the President succumbed, playing basketball on Election Day at the same court he played on before winning in 2008.
But now it was done, and reason had returned. Ever since the campaign computers started raising the odds of victory from near even to something like surefire, Obama had been thinking a lot about what it meant to win without the lightning-in-a-bottle quality of that first national campaign. The Obama effect was not ephemeral anymore, no longer reducible to what had once been mocked as "that hopey-changey stuff." It could be measured — in wars stopped and started; industries saved, restructured or reregulated; tax cuts extended; debt levels inflated; terrorists killed; the health-insurance system reimagined; and gay service members who could walk in uniform with their partners. It could be seen in the new faces who waited hours to vote and in the new ways campaigns are run. America debated and decided this year: history would not record Obama's presidency as a fluke.
Obama set January deadline for gun proposals
By JULIE PACE | Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurred by a horrific elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama tasked his administration Wednesday with creating concrete proposals to reduce gun violence that has plagued the country.
"This time, the words need to lead to action," said Obama, who set a January deadline for the recommendations. He vowed to push for their implementation without delay.
The president, who exerted little political capital on gun control during his first term, also pressed Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. He also called for stricter background checks for people who seek to purchase weapons and limited high capacity clips.
"The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing," Obama said. "The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence."
Obama's announcement Wednesday underscores the urgency the White House sees in formulating a response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children and six adults were killed when a man carrying a military-style rifle stormed an elementary school.
The massacre has prompted several congressional gun rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms, and there is some concern that their willingness to engage could fade as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown shooting eases. Obama said Wednesday it was "encouraging" to see people of different backgrounds and political affiliations coming to an understanding that the country has an obligation to prevent such violence.
Appealing to gun owners, Obama said he believes in the Second Amendment and the country's strong tradition of gun ownership. And he said "the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible." The president tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading the administration-wide effort to create new gun control policies. Obama also wants his team to consider ways to improve mental health resources and address ways to create a culture that doesn't promote violence.
The departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security will all be part of the process.
Biden's prominent role in the process could be an asset for the White House in getting gun legislation through Congress. The vice president spent decades in the Senate and has been called on by Obama before to use his long-standing relationships with lawmakers to build support for White House measures.
President Obama at Prayer Vigil for Connecticut Shooting Victims: "Newtown, You Are Not Alone"
By Ezra Mechaber
This evening the President spoke at an interfaith vigil for families of the victims, and all families from Sandy Hook Elementary School. He offered the love and prayers of a nation grieving alongside Newtown:
Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we've pulled our children tight. And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it.
Newtown -- you are not alone. As these difficult days have unfolded, you've also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school's staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate. Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy -- they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances -- with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.
An Open Letter to President Obama
By Michael Moore
Oscar and Emmy-winning director
Good luck on your journeys overseas this week, and congratulations on decisively winning your second term as our president! The first time you won four years ago, most of us couldn't contain our joy and found ourselves literally in tears over your victory.
This time, it was more like breathing a huge sigh of relief. But, like the smooth guy you are, you scored the highest percentage of the vote of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson, and you racked up the most votes for a Democratic president in the history of the United States (the only one to receive more votes than you was... you, in '08!). You are the first Democrat to get more than 50 percent of the vote twice in a row since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
This was truly another historic election and I would like to take a few minutes of your time to respectfully ask that your second term not resemble your first term.
It's not that you didn't get anything done. You got A LOT done. But there are some very huge issues that have been left unresolved and, dammit, we need you to get some fight in you. Wall Street and the uber-rich have been conducting a bloody class war for over 30 years and it's about time they were stopped. I know it is not in your nature to be aggressive or confrontational. But, please, Barack -- DO NOT listen to the pundits who are telling you to make the "grand compromise" or move to the "center" (FYI -- you're already there). Your fellow citizens have spoken and we have rejected the crazed ideology of this Republican Party and we insist that you forcefully proceed in bringing about profound change that will improve the lives of the 99 percent. We're done hoping. We want real change. And if we can't get it in the second term of a great and good man like you, then really -- what's the use? Why are we even bothering? Yes, we're that discouraged and disenchanted.
At your first post-election press conference last Wednesday you were on fire. The way you went allTaxi Driver on McCain and company ("You talkin' to me?") was so brilliant and breathtaking I had to play it back a dozen times just to maintain the contact high. Jesus, that look -- for a second I thought laser beams would be shooting out of your eyes! MORE OF THAT!! PLEASE!! In the weeks after your first election you celebrated by hiring the Goldman Sachs boys and Wall Street darlings to run our economy. Talk about a buzzkill that I never fully recovered from. Please -- not this time. This time take a stand for all the rest of us -- and if you do, tens of millions of us will not only have your back, we will swoop down on Congress in a force so large they won't know what hit them (that's right, McConnell -- you're on the retirement list we've put together for 2014).
America's Choice Again: President Barack Obama Secures 2nd Term;
By CAW Editors
In his victory speech, following his re-election for a second term, President Barack said: "Tonight, more than 200
years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves
forward. It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed
over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope,
the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or
fall together as one nation and as one people…" And boy, those words sure are true.
In an election marred by divisiveness, created primarily by the Republican Party, we saw that demographics won out. You can't win an election by focusing on one group. The reality is that America is a country of diversity, specifically, ethnicity and sexual relations. These groups cannot be ignored. Ignore them at your peril as the Republican candidate Mitt Romney did. An article by Marten Weber on Huffington Post, said it best:
"So what does Obama's re-election have to teach the world? One thing: the culture wars are over. These elections were not about abortion, guns, gays, or God— they were about demographics. If you sift through the data on the various websites, a clear picture emerges: Mitt Romney stands for older, white men. He stands for conservative tribal attitude and antiquated bible-babble. Obama got the vote of young people from all walks of life — from people who want consensus over partisan bickering, equality instead of tribalism, reason rather than fairy tales, and economic fairness instead of damaging capitalism. These Republicans were stupid enough to alienate every non- white, non-male, non-gun-toting-bible-waving constituency in America. They insulted women, ignored gay people, offended Latinos, disregarded Asians, and made a mockery of the American dream of inclusiveness and equal opportunity. So they lost, and they lost big time! Obama did not win by a small margin. It was a resounding victory. Romney lost in every swing state on the map. And that says a lot about the future. Swing states predict where things are headed, and the message is clear…"
In this election, we also saw a clear, strong voice by immigrants, in particular, the Latino vote. Hopefully, the strength of this vote will translate to pro-immigrant policies, in particular, comprehensive immigration reform.
Javier Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York expressed this sentiment: "The growing influence of the Latino vote in this election is not just a matter of changing demographics. It is the result of concerted efforts by immigrant organizations to organize, register and turnout thousands of Latinos and immigrant voters to the polls and make a powerful demand for action on the issues that matter to our communities. And this recent election proves that we are succeeding".
Caribbean-Americans, both elected officials and community leaders expressed their joys and opinions about the President's election.
Brian Figeroux, Esq., Senior Partner at the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates & Legal Advisor for the non- profit, the Immigrant's Journal Legal & Educational Fund, Inc: "Congratulations to President Barack Obama, another four years, made possible by Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays and other Americans; a coalition of groups expressing their unheard demand for jobs, equality and comprehensive immigration reform. I hope and pray that President Barack Obama will address these issues immediately. The President should also ignore the advice of Republicans that are urging him to hold off on comprehensive immigration reform. Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) should be included in any economic stimulus package. CIR will boost the economy."
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn): "I'm overjoyed to celebrate the re-election of President Barack Obama! His victory ensures that we will continue to move forward as a nation over the next four years. I hope now that this divisive and contentious marathon of an election is over, Washington can get to business for New Yorkers and Americans everywhere. Republicans need to heed Mitt Romney's concession speech and work with President Obama this time around, shifting from the 'party of no' to the 'party of we have to find consensus and compromise.' I hope we will see tangible change in issues that affect this city, like immigration reform, public education and relief for middle class families."
Dr. Janice Emanuel-Bunn, a Guyanese-born professor at the University of Phoenix, Arizona, and president of Brooklyn, New York-based Action, Performance, Commitment (APC) Community Services: "It was unbelievable and unprecedented. The fact that President Obama was able to put together a coalition that defeated the 'super pacs' and all the money they shelled out is a testament to people power. His ground mobilization was superb. We need to support this president because he will go down in history as our finest."
Jamaican Una Clarke, the former New York City Councilwoman and first Caribbean-born woman to hold elective office in New York City: "I think all the Republican chatter will now be silenced, and he'll get more cooperation in Congress. The President's coalition, including minorities and immigrants, held together. The Republicans will have to re-evaluate everything, including anti-Black sentiments. I was holding on to every word the president had to say in his victory speech."
Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar: "He earned his re-election, he remained grounded in the politics of hope and delivery to the people. Congrats President Obama. Obama lives on."
Obama in his victory speech, said the best is yet to come. We believe him. Unburdened by the cloud of re-election, we expect the President to push forward with a balance of boldness, resolve and compromise to fulfill the campaign promises of not just this election but that of 2008. We hope, pray and look forward to reforms that will truly bring about a changed America.
Four more years: the best is yet to come!Obama Election Speech: by The Associated Press
President Barack Obama's speech in Chicago after his re-election Tuesday night, as transcribed by Roll Call:
Thank you so much. Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people .
Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.
I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.
I just spoke with Gov. Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Gov. Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.
I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America's happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.
And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation's first lady. Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you're growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I'm so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog's probably enough.
To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics. The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley. You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you put in.
I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you'll discover something else.
You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who's working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.
That's why we do this. That's what politics can be. That's why elections matter. It's not small, it's big. It's important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.
That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers. A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this – this world has ever known. But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.
We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag. To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. To the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president – that's the future we hope for. That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go – forward. That's where we need to go.
Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.
Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.
Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do.
But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That's the principle we were founded on.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.
I am hopeful tonight because I've seen the spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I've seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.
I've seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm. And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.
I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father's story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That's who we are. That's the country I'm so proud to lead as your president.
And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.
I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.
I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.
And together with your help and God's grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.
NYC BOARD OF ELECTIONS ANNOUNCES SEVERAL POLL SITE LOCATION CHANGES DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY
NYC Board of Elections Announces Voter Phone Bank (212-VOTE-NYC) will be up and running as soon as all potential danger to our system has passed. Press related inquiries email Valerie Vazquez, Director of Communications at email@example.com.
Our thoughts are with the residents of the City of New York affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Due to the damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy, the Board of Elections in the City of New York is temporarily relocating or combining some poll site locations across all five boroughs to ensure that voters are given the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
With the assistance of multiple City agencies especially the Governor's and Mayor's Office and the Department of Education, the Board surveyed and assessed all polling sites in each borough and determined the usability and accessibility of each poll site in advance of this Tuesday's election. We have consolidated some poll sites and found alternative locations for others. Below is a list of all poll site location changes.
"Our staff, with the help of other local and state agencies, has been working around the clock to ensure a smooth Election Day for all New York voters," said BOE President Maria R. Guastella. "I would like to thank the Campaign Finance Board for their assistance in helping us communicate the changes we have had to make prior to this election and assisting us with volunteers. Poll site relocations and modifications were deemed an important and necessary change in order to accommodate all voters." The Board urges New York voters to visit the poll site locator on our website or use our Smartphone application to verify their poll site location prior to Election Day this Tuesday, both of which have been updated to reflect these changes. Shuttle service will be provided to assist voters in getting to their poll sites in Coney Island, Far Rockaway and Staten Island. Additional information and routes will also be posted our website prior to Election Day... click here for poll site loations changes
New York Mayor Bloomberg endorses Obama
By Josh Lederman of Associated Press
The mayor backed President Barack Obama for re-election, saying the incumbent Democrat will bring leadership that is critically needed to fight climate change after the East Coast devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy.
WASHINGTON — The endorsement from the politically independent and popular third-term mayor was a major boost for Obama, who is spending the campaign's final days trying to win over independent voters whose voices will be critical in determining who wins Tuesday's election.
Both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had eagerly sought the nod from Bloomberg, who didn't endorse a presidential candidate in 2008.
As New York continued to pick up the pieces after the superstorm devastated parts of the city this week, Bloomberg said Sandy had made the stakes of the election even clearer. He said the climate is changing and that Obama has taken major steps in the right direction.
"We need leadership from the White House, and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption," Bloomberg wrote in an online opinion piece, citing higher fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and stricter controls on mercury emissions. A billionaire businessman and former Republican, Bloomberg praised Romney as a good man who would bring valuable business experience to the White House. But he said Romney had reversed course on a number of important issues, including immigration, health care and abortion.
"If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing," Bloomberg wrote.
Obama issued a statement welcoming the endorsement and pledging to continue to stand with New York in its time of need.
"While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time — that the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it," Obama said.
Strengthen Our Economy
By Jason Furman & Danielle Gray
America is a nation of immigrants. Our American journey and our success would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe. It is helpful to take a moment to reflect on the important contributions by the generations of immigrants who have helped us build our economy, and made America the economic engine of the world.
How do immigrants strengthen the U.S. economy? Below is our top 10 list for ways immigrants help to grow the American economy.
- Immigrants start businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business in the United States than non-immigrants, and 18 percent of all small business owners in the United States are immigrants.
- Immigrant-owned businesses create jobs for American workers. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and according to the latest estimates, these small businesses generated more than $776 billion annually.
- Immigrants are also more likely to create their own jobs. According the U.S. Department of Labor, 7.5 percent of the foreign born are self-employed compared to 6.6 percent among the native-born.
- Immigrants develop cutting-edge technologies and companies. According to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started 25 percent of public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capital investors. This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, and Intel. According to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started 25 percent of public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capital investors. This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, and Intel.
- Immigrants are our engineers, scientists, and innovators. According to the Census Bureau, despite making up only 16 percent of the resident population holding a bachelor's degree or higher, immigrants represent 33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientist, and 24 percent of physical scientists. Additionally, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited with contributing to more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities.
- Immigration boosts earnings for American workers. Increased immigration to the United States has increased the earnings of Americans with more than a high school degree. Between 1990 and 2004, increased immigration was correlated with increasing earnings of Americans by 0.7 percent and is expected to contribute to an increase of 1.8 percent over the long-term, according to a study by the University of California at Davis.
- Immigrants boost demand for local consumer goods. The Immigration Policy Center estimates that the purchasing power of Latinos and Asians, many of whom are immigrants, alone will reach $1.5 trillion and $775 billion, respectively, by 2015..
- Comprehensive immigration reform would create jobs. Comprehensive immigration reform could support and create up to 900,000 new jobs within three years of reform from the increase in consumer spending, according to the Center for American Progress.
The Immigrant's Journal Legal & Educational Fund and the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates, in conjunction with Allison Butters-Grant, Children and Women Across Borders, are presenting an East Orange Immigration Drive, September 15, 2012. Agenda topics include free legal consultations on deferred action for "Dreamers," spousal abuse, and divorce. Ms. Butters-Grant recommends to her immigrant clientele government and private sector agencies that can provide free assistance to enable them to enjoy a life of freedom in the U.S.She is sensitive to the dilemma whereby these new immigrants to our shores fear deportation proceedings when seeking assistance. For more information please click here
Barack Obama Singing Call Me Maybe," which has racked up over 24 million views in just a few months.
TAKE US FORWARD (OBAMA 2012)!
PLEASE give yourself a treat by watching this VERY UPLIFTING music video featuring a song titled "Take Us Forward (Obama 2012)!" In it, songstress Crystal Lucas-Perry sings that she's "voting for O-B-A-M-A" on 11/6/12! (All song and video credits appear on the video's YouTube page.)
(CBS) The decision by Chief Justice John Roberts to uphold President Obama's health care law will be studied for years -- and now details are emerging from the normally leak-proof Supreme Court itself.
Jan Crawford of CBS News, citing "two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations," reports that Roberts indeed switched his vote after siding with four other conservative justices who supported striking down the law.
"Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said," reports Crawford... read more
Over the past three years, this Administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform the immigration enforcement system into one that focuses on public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system. As DHS continues to focus its limited enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, including aliens convicted of crimes, with particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders, DHS will move to exercise prosecutorial discretion to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who were brought to this country through no fault of their own as children, have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanor offenses, and meet other key criteria.
Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children and meet several key criteria will no longer be removed from the country or entered into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today's date. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.
While this guidance takes effect immediately, USCIS and ICE expect to begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days. In the meantime, individuals seeking more information on the new policy should visit USCIS's website (at www.uscis.gov), ICE's website (at www.ice.gov), or DHS's website (at www.dhs.gov). Beginning Monday, individuals can also call USCIS' hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE's hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours with questions or to request more information on the forthcoming process.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is eligible to receive deferred action under the Department's new directive? Pursuant to the Secretary's June 15, 2012 memorandum, in order to be eligible for deferred action, individuals must:
- 1.) Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- 2.) Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
- 3.) Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- 4.) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
- 5.) Not be above the age of thirty.
Speaking in El Paso, Texas today, President Barack Obama made the case for comprehensive immigration reform, contending that providing a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants will improve U.S. security as well as the economy. He outlined the work his administration has done to increase border security, and asserted that with security issues dealt with, it is time to find a permanent solution that will help the nation's economy.
From his prepared remarks:Under Secretary Napolitano's leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible. They wanted more agents on the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history. The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents—more than twice as many as there were in 2004, a build up that began under President Bush and that we have continued.
They wanted a fence. Well, that fence is now basically complete.
And we've gone further. We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working the border. I've deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California. We've forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries. And for the first time we are screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments—to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs coming north.
On the economy:Think about it. Over the past decade, even before the recession, middle class families were struggling to get by as costs went up but incomes didn't. We're seeing this again with gas prices. Well, one way to strengthen the middle class is to reform our immigration system, so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everyone else. I want incomes for middle class families to rise again. I want prosperity in this country to be widely shared. That's why immigration reform is an economic imperative.
And reform will also help make America more competitive in the global economy. Today, we provide students from around the world with visas to get engineering and computer science degrees at our top universities. But our laws discourage them from using those skills to start a business or power a new industry right here in the United States. So instead of training entrepreneurs to create jobs in America, we train them to create jobs for our competition. That makes no sense. In a global marketplace, we need all the talent we can get—not just to benefit those individuals, but because their contributions will benefit all Americans.
To achieve that, the White House has released the Blueprint for Building a 21st Century Immigration System (pdf), following this outline:
- Responsibility by the federal government to secure our borders: Today, our borders are more secure than at any time in the past several decades and the Administration continues to refine and strengthen its strategy. Enforcement resources should be focused on preventing those who would do our nation harm from entering our country.
- Accountability for businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers: Employers who deliberately hire and exploit undocumented workers must be held accountable. At the same time, we must give employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
- Strengthening our economic competitiveness by creating a legal immigration system that reflects our values and diverse needs: Our immigration laws should continue to reunify families and encourage individuals we train in our world-class institutions to stay and develop new technologies and industries in the United States rather than abroad. The law should stop punishing innocent young people whose parents brought them here illegally and give those young men and women a chance to stay in this country if they serve in the military or pursue higher education. A smart 21st century system should also provide farmers a legal way to hire the workers they rely on year after year, and it should improve procedures for employers who seek to hire foreign workers for jobs if U.S. workers are not available.
- Responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally: Those people living here illegally must also be held accountable for their actions and get on the right side of the law by registering and undergoing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, and learning English before they can get in line to become eligible for citizenship. Being a citizen of this country comes not only with rights but also with fundamental responsibilities. We can create a pathway for legal status that is fair and reflects our values.
The White House has stressed the theme of "elevating the debate" on immigration in this push, Republicans are unlikely to rise up to that challenge. For example: "'The president can pander all he wants to, make as many speeches as he wants to,' said Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the main committee in the U.S. House of Representatives that would consider immigration legislation," suggesting that Obama's proposal is unlikely to get a hearing in his committee.