Committed to Passing Bipartisan Immigration Reform

03/25/2014
nation-of-immigrants

President Obama understands the importance and urgency in fixing the broken immigration system and outlined his vision for a 21st century immigration policy:

  • 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 competiveness 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.

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For the immediate time President Obama has issued two important policies for immigration:

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
President Obama’s new DREAM relief policy [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA] would allow undocumented youth who qualify to request temporary relief from deportation, making them eligible to receive work permits and a social security number. For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/15/remarks-president-immigration

Family Unity Immigration Policy Change
President Obama’s  final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013 and more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at http://www.uscis.gov/.
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January 25, 2013

Readout of the President’s Meeting with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Leadership

The President and Senior Administration Officials met this morning with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the need to make things fairer for and grow the middle class by fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules. The President thanked the Members for their long standing leadership on the issue, and reiterated that this is a top legislative priority.

The President was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship. The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay. The President made it clear he will continue to lead on this issue, and that he looks forward to working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other key Members of Congress in a bipartisan process to move this debate forward at the earliest possible opportunity.

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Readout of [Homeland Security] Secretary Johnson’s Meeting with Organizations Committed to Passing Bipartisan Immigration Reform

March 25, 2014 dhs.gov

WASHINGTON—Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson met with important stakeholders from across the country to discuss the need for commonsense immigration reform, and hear firsthand their comments and perspective on a wide range of immigration issues. The meeting was part of Secretary Johnson’s focus on the effective and sensible enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, including the ongoing review to assess how the Department of Homeland Security can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law.

As part of that effort, Secretary Johnson has been taking a hard look at these tough issues, meeting with a range of stakeholders and employees, and assessing where we can further align our enforcement policies with our goal of sound law enforcement practice that prioritizes public safety.

During the meeting, Secretary Johnson underscored his focus on supporting the passage of commonsense immigration reform this year – which remains the only path to fixing our broken immigration system.

Participants in today’s meeting included:

Josh Bernstein, Director of Immigration Policy and Strategy, Service Employees International Union
Greg Chen, Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association
Ron Coleman, Government Affairs Manager, California Immigrant Policy Center
Joanne Lin, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
Brian Erickson, Policy Advocate, ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights
Jose Manuel Escobedo, Deputy Director for Policy, Border Network for Human Rights
Kamal Essaheb, Immigration Policy Attorney, National Immigration Law Center
Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress
Matthew Ginsburg, Associate General Counsel, AFL-CIO
Melissa Crow, Director of the Legal Action Center, American Immigration Council
Giev Kashkooli, Political/Legislative Director, United Farm Workers
Richard Morales, Detention Prevention Coordinator, PICO National Network
Royce Bernstein Murray, Director of Policy, National Immigrant Justice Center
Jumana Musa, Consultant, CAMBIO
Brittney Nystrom, Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
JJ Rosenbaum, Legal and Policy Director, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and National   Guestworker Alliance
Linda Sarsour, National Network for Arab American Communities
Paromita Shah, Associate Director, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Silky Shah, Interim Executive Director/Communications Director, Detention Watch Network
Tania Unzueta Carrasco, Immigration Strategist, National Day Laborer Organizing Network

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March 26, 2014

Statement by the President on Immigration Reform

Last year, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense bill to fix our broken immigration system – a bill that would grow our economy, shrink our deficits, and reward businesses and workers that play by the rules. But so far, Republicans in the House have refused to allow meaningful immigration reform legislation to even come up for a vote.

That’s why, today, I applaud the efforts of Democrats in the House to give immigration reform the yes-or-no vote it deserves. Like the Senate bill, the House bill would strengthen our borders, modernize our legal immigration system, and keep more families together. It would make sure everyone plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are living in the shadows. And according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it would grow our economy and reduce our deficits by $900 billion over the next 20 years.

Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security, and our future. A vast majority of the American people agree. The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country. And I want to thank the leaders in Congress who are doing their part to move us forward.

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Pres Obama’s European Travel: NS Summit, EU-US Summit & NATO

03/22/2014

2014 Nuclear Security Summit The Netherlands, the organising country, will focus on the following achievable and visible goals:

  1. Optimal security for and, if at all possible, a reduction in the use of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
  2. Ratification of the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material by more countries to ensure that the amendment enters into force as soon as possible.
  3. More frequent reviews of state security structures by IAEA advisory missions.
  4. National registration and protection of highly radioactive sources (e.g. medical equipment).
  5. Greater role for industry in nuclear security, to enhance the security culture and existing regulations.States should provide information to their own people and the international community to demonstrate that they are taking appropriate measures to maintain the security of their nuclear material and facilities.
  6. These confidence-building measures will increase trust in the international protection system.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Nuclear_Security_Summit http://youtu.be/IA-iJtNNir0

NSS  2014 2014 Nuclear Security Summit

2014 NSS Family Photo

2014 Nuclear Security Summit
24-25 March 2014
World Forum Convention Center The Hague, Netherlands

Website: https://www.nss2014.com

.2014 EU-US Summit

President Obama’s European Travel Itinerary

March 24, Monday

President Obama arrives in the Hague, Netherlands

President Obama meets with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte
Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama tours the Rijksmuseum with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte hold a bilateral meeting
U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte deliver remarks
U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a bilateral meeting
U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends opening Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends first plenary Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends Nuclear Security Summit scenario-based policy seasons
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends a G-7 meeting
Dutch Prime Minister Rutte’s residence, Catshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama meets with Dutch King Willem-Alexander
Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama participates in a family photo
Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama and Dutch King Willem-Alexander hold a working dinner
Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

March 25, Tuesday

President Obama meets with Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev
U.S. Ambassador’s residence, The Netherlands

President Obama holds a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends plenary Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends additional Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama speaks at the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit 
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan hold a bilateral meeting
United States Ambassador’s residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe hold a trilateral meeting
United States Ambassador’s residence , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama meets with U.S. Embassy members
United States Ambassador’s residence , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama travels to Brussels, Belgium

March 26, Wednesday

President Obama meets with Belgian King King Philippe and Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama attends a wreath laying
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama tours battlefield
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President delivers remarks
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama attends the US-EU Summit
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama meets with European Commission Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy – US-EU Summit
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama attends a US-EU Summit working lunch
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama, European Commission Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy hold a press conference – EU-US Summit
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama meets with employees and family members of the U.S. Tri-Mission to Belgium
The Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
The Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama in Address to European Youth
The Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR) aka Paleis voor Schone Kunsten (PSK) The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama departs for Rome

March 27, Thursday

President Obama meets with His Holiness Pope Francis
The Holy See Vatican City, Italy

President Obama meets with Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin
The Holy See, Vatican City, Italy

President Obama participates in a restricted bilateral meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy
Quirinal Palace, Rome, Italy

President Obama participates in a extended bilateral meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy

President Obama and Italian President Napolitano hold a working lunch
Quirinal Palace, Rome, Italy

President Obama and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy participates in a bilateral meeting
Villa Madama, Rome, Italy

President Obama and Italian Prime Minister Renzi hold a press conference
Villa Madama, Rome, Italy

President Obama tours the Colossum
Rome, Italy

President Obama meets with members of The Holy See,The Holy See, and the UN Agencies in Rome
U.S. Ambassador’s residence, Rome, Italy

March 28, Friday

President Obama and His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of His Majesty hold a bilateral meeting
Rawdat Khuraim,  Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

President Obama spends the night
Ritz Carlton, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

March 29, Saturday

President Obama Presents to Dr. Maha Al Muneef the State Department’s 2014 Women of Courage Award
Ritz Carlton, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

President Obama meets and greets with Embassy personnel
Ritz Carlton, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

President Obama departs Saudi Arabia for the White House

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First Lady Michelle Obama Travels To China

03/18/2014

FLOTUS Travels to China - map

Michelle Obama_100000_strong_event

Michelle Obama is the wife of the 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Obama. She was born on January 17, 1964 under the Chinese horoscope of the Rabbit 兔 癸 卯 on the South Side of Chicago. She attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School before returning to Chicago to work at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met her future husband. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

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First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters will travel to China and she’s inviting students and classrooms across the U.S. to follow her trip.

During her trip to China, the First Lady will be focusing on the power and importance of education, both in her own life and in the lives of young people in both countries.

First Lady Michelle will meet with Madame Peng, the spouse of China’s President Xi Jinping. She will  visit a university and a high school in Beijing, and a high school in Chengdu as well as visiting important historical and cultural sites in China, and will share with students in the U.S. the stories of the students she meets in China, as well as interesting facts about China’s history and culture — emphasizing the importance of students learning from one another globally.

First Lady Michelle Obama is inviting young people across America to join her. During her trip, Mrs. Obama will meet with students at the Stanford Center at Peking University, Beijing Normal School and Chengdu No. 7 High School to discuss the power and importance of education, both in her own life and in the lives of young people in both countries. She’ll also visit historical and cultural sites, from the Great Wall to the Terra Cotta Warriors, and will be sharing it all with you!

Here’s how people in the U.S. — and around the world — can participate and follow along:

  • The First Lady’s travel journal: Each day, the First Lady will post a daily travel blog, complete with videos and photos (and you can sign up to get the latest entries delivered to your inbox).
  • First Lady Michelle Obama’s  “100,000 Strong” China Study Abroad Initiative  (2011 Video here)
  • Ask the First Lady: In the weeks leading up to the trip, hundreds of young people submitted questions for the First Lady. During the visit, Mrs. Obama will record video responses and engage directly with young people on social media. Use the hashtag #FLOTUSinChina to discuss the trip and ask questions on Twitter or Instagram.
  • Read all of the First Lady’s posts at WhiteHouse.gov/First-Lady-China-Trip.
  • Follow on social media: You can follow along through the First Lady’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.

More ways to engage online:

  • “Exchange for a Day” with Discovery Education: From Peking University in Beijing, the First Lady will answer questions submitted by classrooms around the country, as part of Discovery Education and the White House’s “Of the People” webinar series. Jeff Wood, an American student from D.C. who is currently studying abroad in China, will pose questions to the First Lady on behalf of Discovery Education’s online audience. You can ask questions and watch the event on Tuesday, March 25th at 1:30 p.m. ET.
  • PBS Global Learning and Diplomacy Collection: As part of a new collection of resources, students and classrooms around the U.S. can access educational resources and collections about the history and culture of China. Leading up to the visit, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and the First Lady’s Chief of Staff Tina Tchen participated in a special webinar to answer questions from young people about the trip and China’s rich history and culture.
  • CNN iReport Assignment: iReporters in the U.S. and around the world have submitted questions for the First Lady about study abroad. Stay tuned to watch Mrs. Obama answer questions from Beijing.
  • Q&A with Youth in China: The U.S. Embassy has invited their social media followers on Chinese microblogging websites Sina and QQ Weibo to post questions for the First Lady. While in China, Mrs. Obama will answer questions about her visit. The First Lady’s responses will be posted in Mandarin on the Embassy’s social media platforms.

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s China Itinerary

Beijing, China

March 20

  • First Lady Michelle Obama arrives in Beijing

March 21

March 22

  • First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks to students at the Stanford Center at Peking University. Speaking to an audience of American students studying abroad at Peking University and Chinese students who have studied abroad in the United States, Mrs. Obama will discuss the importance of study abroad and other cultural exchanges as well as the stake our two countries have in one another’s success.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a virtual discussion with American youth. During the conversation, Mrs. Obama will highlight the role of technology in enabling students in the United States to connect and collaborate with students around the world.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Summer Palace.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama meets with staff and families of the United States Embassy in Beijing.

March 23

  • First Lady Michelle Obama hosts an education roundtable.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Great Wall of China.

Xi’an, China

March 24

Chengdu, China

March 25

  • First Lady Michelle Obama visits Chengdu No. 7 High School. During remarks to students, Mrs. Obama will highlight the importance of education in her own life and in the lives of students in both the United States and China.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama meets with staff and families of the United States Consulate in Chengdu.

March 26

  • First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Chengdu Panda Base. The Chengdu Panda Base is currently home to approximately 50 pandas, ranging in age from infancy to full-grown adults. Chinese scientists spend their days working to increase the panda population through research, conservation, and breeding.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama departs Chengdu and returns to Washington D.C.

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24 Army Veterans Awarded The U.S. Medal of Honor

03/16/2014

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

Members of all branches of the armed forces are eligible to receive the medal, and there are three versions; one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The Medal of Honor is bestowed upon an individual by the passing of a Joint Resolution in the Congress; and is then personally presented to the recipient or, in the case of posthumous awards, to next of kin, by the President of the United States, on behalf of the Congress, representing and recognizing the gratitude of the American people as a whole.

On March 18th, 2014, President Barack Obama will award 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. These veterans will receive the Medal of Honor in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Each of these Soldiers’ bravery was previously recognized by award of the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military award; that award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor in recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty.

President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to:

Specialist Four Santiago J. Erevia
Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris
Sergeant First Class Jose Rodela

President Obama will posthumously award the Medal of Honor to:

The following individuals distinguished themselves by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving during the Vietnam War.

Sergeant Candelario Garcia
Specialist Four Leonard L. Alvarado
Staff Sergeant Felix M. Conde-Falcon
Specialist Four Ardie R. Copas
Specialist Four Jesus S. Duran

The following individuals distinguished themselves by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving during the Korean War.

Corporal Joe R. Baldonado
Corporal Victor H. Espinoza
Sergeant Eduardo C. Gomez
Private First Class Leonard M. Kravitz
Master Sergeant Juan E. Negron
Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena
Private Demensio Rivera
Private Miguel A. Vera
Sergeant Jack Weinstein

The following individuals distinguished themselves by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving during World War II.

Private Pedro Cano
Private Joe Gandara
Private First Class Salvador J. Lara
Sergeant William F. Leonard
Staff Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza
Sergeant Alfred B. Nietzel
First Lieutenant Donald K. Schwab

For more information on this event and it’s recipients: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/21/president-obama-award-medal-honor

To see photos of the  recipients: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/18/president-obama-awards-medal-honor-24-army-veterans

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The World Supports Ukraine’s Freedom

03/15/2014

March 12, 2014

Statement of G-7 Leaders on Ukraine

We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, call on the Russian Federation to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law.  We call on the Russian Federation to immediately halt actions supporting a referendum on the territory of Crimea regarding its status, in direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Any such referendum would have no legal effect.  Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.  For all these reasons, we would not recognize the outcome.

Russian annexation of Crimea would be a clear violation of the United Nations Charter; Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act; its obligations to Ukraine under its 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership; the Russia-Ukraine 1997 basing agreement; and its commitments in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.  In addition to its impact on the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states.  Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively.

We call on the Russian Federation to de-escalate the conflict in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine immediately, withdraw its forces back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons, begin direct discussions with the Government of Ukraine, and avail itself of international mediation and observation offers to address any legitimate concerns it may have.  We, the leaders of the G-7, urge Russia to join us in working together through diplomatic processes to resolve the current crisis and support progress for a sovereign independent, inclusive and united Ukraine.  We also remind the Russian Federation of our decision to suspend participation in any activities related to preparation of a G-8 Sochi meeting  until it changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion.

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21/3/14 European Council focuses on Ukraine crisis and further sanctions 

безкоштовно України

Vice President Biden to Travel to Poland and Lithuania

Vice President Biden travels to Poland and Lithuania next week, March 17-19th, to meet with regional partners to discuss events in Ukraine and other regional issues. In Warsaw and Vilnius, the Vice President will meet with the Polish President Komorowski and Prime Minister Tusk and Estonian President Ilves, Latvian President Bērziņš, and Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė.

During his meetings, the Vice President will consult on steps to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and affirm our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty and our enduring support for all of our allies and partners in Europe.

VP Biden Warsaw

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2014

03/13/2014

WH_St_Patricks_Day_Fountain The United States and Ireland share a strong bilateral relationship; deep cultural, historic, and people-to-people bonds; and a shared commitment to advancing peace, security, and prosperity in the world.

March 14

President Obama welcomes Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny to the White House.

Vice President Biden hosts the Taoiseach for breakfast at the Naval Observatory

President Obama meets with the Taoiseach in the Oval Office

President Obama and Vice President Biden attends the traditional St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the U.S. Capitol

Vice President Biden meets with First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland

President Obama and First Lady Michelle hosts a reception to celebrate their sixth St. Patrick’s Day at the White House.

President Obama and the Taoiseach participates in the annual Shamrock ceremony started under President Truman.

lá sona naomh Pádraig

Shamrock

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 

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Overtime Pay Compensation Executive Order

03/12/2014

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (abbreviated as FLSA; also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill) is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA established a national minimum wage, guaranteed ‘time-and-a-half‘ for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor,” a term that is defined in the statute. It applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage.

On Saturday, June 25, 1938, to avoid pocket vetoes 9 days after Congress had  adjourned, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat,  signed 121 bills. Among these bills  was a landmark law in the Nation’s social and economic development —  Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). Against a history of judicial opposition,  the depression-born FLSA had survived, not unscathed, more than a year of  Congressional altercation. In its final form, the act applied to industries whose  combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force. In these  industries, it banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at  25 cents, and the maximum workweek at 44 hours.

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Overtime Pay Said to Reach More Workers Under Obama Order

3/12/14 By Angela Greiling Keane – bloomberg

Some U.S. workers who are deemed ineligible for overtime compensation under what’s known as the “white-collar exemption” would be able to collect extra pay under an executive order President Barack Obama plans to issue tomorrow, according to a White House official.

The order will direct the Labor Department to modify overtime rules so millions more people will be eligible for overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week, said the White House official, who requested anonymity because the plan hasn’t been announced.

Workers now classified as executive, administrative or professional may include managers of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores who could receive overtime pay under the new rules, the official said.

President George W. Bush in 2004 set $455 per week as the threshold for what constitutes a white-collar worker for overtime pay purposes. The White House official didn’t say what the new threshold would be.

The move would mark the latest in a series of executive orders this year from Obama, who said in his State of the Union address in January that he plans to use that power to make changes rather than waiting for Congress to act. Obama is also trying to boost pay for lower-wage workers by increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That change would require the approval of Congress.

The push for a higher federal minimum wage has become a centerpiece of Obama’s attempt to frame Democratic Party priorities before the November midterm elections that will decide control of the U.S. House and Senate.

Minimum Wage
Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, and business groups say that raising the minimum wage would lead to a reduction in jobs, hurting those it aims to help. A Congressional Budget Office report last month found that raising the rate in three steps as Obama proposes would reduce U.S. jobs by 500,000, or 0.3 percent, while lifting 900,000 people out of poverty.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans, including 45 percent of Republicans, support the president’s call to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. Twenty-eight percent of poll respondents oppose such action.

While the wage-increase proposal resonates with most Americans, the poll indicates that Republicans are finding persuasive counter-arguments, including the potential loss of jobs.

2014 SOTU - Raise the minimum wage

Raising the Minimum Wage to $10.10. As he said in his State of the Union speech on January 28th, President Obama will continue to call on Congress to pass the Harkin-Miller plan to raise the Federal minimum wage for working Americans in stages to $10.10 and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years. The President knows this is important for workers and good for business.

Resources: 

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US Office of Personnel Management app for Federal jobs  USAJOBS

US Dept of Education Federal Student Aid app StudentAid

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‘Victims Protection Act’ Passes Senate

03/10/2014

Senate approves McCaskill sexual assault bill in 97-0 vote

March 10, 2014, 06:25 pm By Ramsey Cox and Jeremy Herb

The Senate on Monday unanimously approved legislation that boosts protections for victims of military sexual assault.

In a 97-0 vote, the Senate approved S. 1917, the Victims Protection Act. The new bill eliminates the ability to cite a soldier’s good record when defending that soldier against assault charges.

It also allows the victims of sexual assault to say whether they’d prefer their cases handled in a military or civilian jurisdiction, and includes sexual assault as part of commanders’ performance assessments.

The legislation from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is a less controversial bill than Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill, which the Senate rejected last week, although 55 senators voted in support of it.

Gillibrand’s bill would have taken the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases outside the military’s chain of command. The Pentagon and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) opposed that change.

Gillibrand and her supporters argued that the proposal is necessary because victims aren’t reporting sexual assault crimes for fear of reprisal, while opponents and Pentagon brass said that commanders needed to maintain accountability to curb the problem of sexual assault within the military’s ranks.

McCaskill’s bill keeps the current military justice system intact.

Ahead of Monday’s vote, Levin spoke in support of McCaskill’s bill, saying it adds “important new protections” in addition to what was accomplished in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year.

“We can approve legislation that adds important new protections for victims of sexual assault,” Levin said. “They will surely make a major contribution in protecting the troops who protect us.”

McCaskill has said the changes in the NDAA are “historic” and will help the military curb the number of sexual assaults within its ranks. The law stripped commanders’ ability to overturn guilty verdicts, required the discharge of those convicted of sexual assault and expanded a special counsel program giving victims legal representation.

It’s unclear if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will bring up McCaskill’s bill for a vote on the House floor. The legislation may instead be incorporated into this year’s Defense authorization bill, which the House Armed Services Committee expects to take up around May.

For more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/200393-senate-votes-97-0-for-military-sexual-assault-bill 

Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to PASS LAWS TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT!!

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U.S. Representatives
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United States v. The Amistad

03/09/2014

cinque-addressing-compatriots-amistad

The Amistad, also known as United States v. Libellants and Claimants of the Schooner Amistad40 U.S. 518 (1841), was a United States Supreme Court case resulting from the rebellion of Africans on board the Spanish schooner La Amistad in 1839. It was an unusual freedom suit that involved international issues and parties, as well as United States law. The historian Samuel Eliot Morison in 1965 described it as the most important court case involving slavery before being eclipsed by that of Dred Scott.

The schooner was traveling along the coast of Cuba on its way to a port for re-sale of the slaves. The African captives, who had been kidnapped in Sierra Leone and illegally sold into slavery and shipped to Cuba, escaped their shackles and took over the ship. They killed the captain and the cook; two other crew members escaped in a lifeboat. The Africans directed the survivors to return them to Africa. The crew tricked them, sailing north at night. The Amistad was later apprehended near Long Island, New York, by the United States Revenue Cutter Serviceand taken into custody. The widely publicized court cases in the United States federal district and Supreme Court, which addressed international issues, helped the abolitionist movement.

In 1840, a federal district court found that the transport of the kidnapped Africans across the Atlantic on the slave ship Tecora was in violation of laws and treaties against the international slave trade by Great Britain, Spain and the United States. The captives were ruled to have acted as free men when they fought to escape their illegal confinement. The Court ruled the Africans were entitled to take whatever legal measures necessary to secure their freedom, including the use of force. Under international and sectional pressure, the President Martin Van Buren ordered the case appealed to the US Supreme Court. It affirmed the lower court ruling on March 9, 1841, and authorized the return of the Africans to their homeland.

Supporters arranged for temporary housing of the Africans in Farmington, Connecticut as well as funds for travel. In 1842 they transported by ship those who wanted to return to Africa, together with American missionaries.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._The_Amistad

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National Archives
The Amistad Case from the National Archives.

National Park Service
* Amistad Story
* Slave Trade
* Conneticut Abolistionist
* Conneticut Freedom Trail
* Timeline of Events

Amistad Research Center at Tulane University

Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860 - Library of Congress

Solomon Northup

  • Twelve Years a Slave, in National Archives : Docs Teach
  • The Solomon Northup Trail, LSU’s Acadiana Historical project’s maps and descriptions of sites mentioned in Northup’s memoir, based on Eakin’s and Logsdon’s 1968 research.

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938 collection contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery.
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Helping Middle Class Families Afford College

03/06/2014

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America is home to the best colleges and universities in the world — and increasing college attainment has never been more important to our economic competitiveness — yet tuition and fees have skyrocketed over the past decade, making it more difficult for American families to invest in a higher education for their future. Today’s college students borrow and rack up more debt than ever before. In 2010, graduates who took out loans left college owing an average of more than $26,000. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.

Our nation’s commitment to placing a good education within reach of all who are willing to work for it helped build a strong American middle class over the past several generations. In keeping this promise alive, President Obama has expanded federal support to help more students afford college, while calling for a shared responsibility in tackling rising college costs. President Obama’s efforts of reform in higher education funding have produced the largest investment in student aid since the G.I. Bill, while resulting in a more efficient, reliable, and effective system for students to help them afford college and manage debt:

Doubling Investments in Pell Grants
The President has raised the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,635 for the 2013-14 award year — a $905 increase since 2008. Under the President’s leadership, the number of Pell Grant recipients has expanded by 50 percent over that same time, providing college access to millions of additional low-income and middle-class students across the country. The Obama Administration’s landmark investment in the Pell Grant was enacted in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which ended student loan subsidies for private financial institutions and banks and shifted over $60 billion in savings back to students.
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Helping Students Manage Student Loan Debt
The Administration’s “Pay as You Earn” plan expands income-based repayment to enable 1.6 million students to take advantage of a new option to cap repayment of student loans at 10 percent of monthly income — an option that student borrowers can begin to use at the end of this year. These changes will reduce the burden of student loans in a fiscally responsible way. Additionally, millions of borrowers are now eligible to consolidate Direct Loans and FFEL Loans and save up to half a percentage point on their interest rate.For more information: Everything you need to know about income-based repayment
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Expanding Education Tax Credits
President Obama established the American Opportunity Tax Credit in 2009 to assist families with the costs of college, providing up to $10,000 for four years of college tuition for families earning up to $180,000. Over 9.4 million students and families benefit from the American Opportunity Tax Credit each year.

Keeping Student Loan Interest Rates Low
In his 2012 State of the Union address, the President called on Congress to keep interest rates low for the 7.4 million borrowers who take out subsidized Federal student loans for this school year. With President Obama’s leadership, rates on new subsidized Stafford loans remained at 3.4 percent — instead of doubling to 6.8 percent — this past summer. This bold action saved students an average of $1,000 on the life of their loans, and President Obama has committed to keeping interest rates low for student loans moving forward.

In August, President Obama signed a bill that takes an important step in fulfilling our nation’s obligations to students. The bipartisan legislation cuts rates on all new loans this year and save a typical undergraduate student $1,500 over the life of those loans. Learn more: Fact Sheet on Bipartisan Student Loan Deal

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/higher-education

FAFSA

US Department of Education – Federal Student Aid http://studentaid.ed.gov

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FACT SHEET: The President and First Lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity

January 16, 2014

To view the White House report on Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students, click HERE. To view the list of Commitments to Action on College Opportunity, click HERE.

The President believes he has a job to do, and every day he is fighting to create more opportunities for working and middle class Americans. And while he will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to move our country forward, the President is committed to partnering with colleges and universities, business leaders, nonprofits and others to do everything he can to support more college opportunities for students across the country.

Today, in response to the President’s call to action, the President and First Lady are joining with leaders in higher education to announce over 100 new commitments to expand college opportunity. To help more students afford and graduate from college with the skills they need, the Administration has already taken action including doubling Federal investments in Pell Grants and college tax credits and reforming student loans. Last August, the President laid out an ambitious new agenda aimed at improving college value, removing barriers to innovation and competition, and ensuring that student debt remains affordable. As the Administration continues to push for changes that keep college affordable for all students and families, we can and must do more to get more low-income students prepared for college, enrolled in quality institutions, and graduating if we are to achieve our North Star goal of leading the world in the share of college graduates by 2020. Together, the President, the First Lady and these leaders in higher education are taking another step to help ensure that every child, rich or poor, has the opportunity for a quality college education so they can get ahead.

Over 100 New Commitments to Expand College Opportunity: The participants in today’s event were asked not simply to attend an event – but to commit to new action in one of the following areas crucial to college opportunity:

* Connecting more low-income students to the college that is right for them and ensuring more graduate

* Increasing the pool of students preparing for college through early interventions

* Leveling the playing field in college advising and SAT/ACT test preparation

* Strengthening remediation to help academically underprepared students progress through and complete college

Today, over 100 colleges and universities and 40 organizations are announcing new commitments to action to build on their existing efforts in this area. Together, these actions will serve hundreds of thousands of students across the country.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/16/fact-sheet-president-and-first-lady-s-call-action-college-opportunity

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