This afternoon, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, sat down with a group of immigration reform advocates and leaders from across the country to discuss President Obama’s plan to fix our broken immigration system in a live Google+ Hangout. During the virtual round table discussion, participants asked questions about the President’s vision on topics ranging from creating an earned path to citizenship, the DREAM Act, Startup visas for entrepreneurs, and the role of the faith community in the immigration reform debate. In case you missed the live event, check out the full video and learn more about the plan.
This “Fireside Hangout” was moderated by Jose Antonio Vargas,a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of Define American, and guests included America Ferrera, co-chair of Voto Latino’s I’m Ready for Immigration Reform campaign, Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners, Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream and Shervin Pishevar, Managing Director at Menlo Ventures and co-founder of Start Up Visa Movement.
The hangout is part of an ongoing series of conversations with administration officials on Google+. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll continue to host hangouts with White House staff on a range of second term priorities. Follow us on Google+ for updates from the Administration and opportunities to participate in online engagement events.
White House Hangout with Cecilia Muñoz on Immigration Reform
Published on Jan 31, 2013
Cecilia Muñoz, the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, participates in a “Fireside Hangout” about immigration reform. Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of Define America, moderated the hangout, and participants included America Ferrera, Jim Wallis, Cristina Jimenez, and Shervin Pishevar. January 31, 2013.
During recent days we have had the honor as part of a U.S. Presidential Delegation to accompany more than 150 U.S. Special Olympians to the 2013 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. In addition to the Opening Ceremonies of the games on Tuesday, the Presidential Delegation had a unique chance to spend time with the athletes and view some of the events.
While we have made a special effort to cheer on the U.S. athletes on behalf of the President, the Special Olympics is about far more than winning – it’s about encouraging diversity, celebrating inclusion and recommitting to the human rights of persons with disabilities around the world.
People with disabilities come from all walks of life, genders, every social class, and all religious traditions. Most of us have a family member, friend or acquaintance with a disability. People with disabilities make tremendous contributions to our society, to our families, to our neighborhoods – adding to the diversity that makes America a unique and special place to call home.
But we also know that too often, communities struggle to include people with disabilities. We frequently define success too narrowly, forgetting that all people have great potential to contribute to our society. This way of thinking excludes people with disabilities in the classroom, in the workplace and in the community.
President Obama has made a pointed commitment to ensuring people with disabilities are included in every facet of life – including at school and in the workplace. In 2010, the President issued Executive Order 13548, to be sure those with disabilities are included in the workforce of the United States Government. Last Friday, the President and Education Secretary Arne Duncan took an historic step to ensure that kids with disabilities aren’t left out in activities and on sports teams in U.S. schools.
We believe that through efforts like these and by raising awareness in communities across the country, the United States has much to offer in affirming the basic human rights of people with disabilities around the world. We know that barriers to equal enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities are many and varied. Pervasive discrimination leads to lack of access to basic public services, education and employment opportunities, political disenfranchisement, forced institutionalization and segregation, and poverty.
Disability-inclusive approaches to education, employment, and public services assure that people with disabilities are able to exercise their rights as full and equal participants in their societies. The Special Olympics stand as a wonderful example of this inclusiveness.
Over the course of this week, the U.S. Presidential Delegation has experienced the lasting power of the Special Olympics movement to promote awareness and appreciation of the human rights of those with disabilities.
The Games provide, through athletic competition, a unique path to strengthening civil rights – as they have for more than four decades. We have witnessed amazing things from Special Olympians who are pushing hard to meet and exceed their best. All of the athletes remind us that every person has potential, and that we can all strive for the utmost success in our endeavors.
Battle buddies aren’t just for the Army. For the past quarter century, The Posse Foundation has been identifying talented students from large urban public school systems and sending them in teams (Posses) to some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. Since 1989, close to 5,000 students have received $500,000,000 in scholarships from Posse’s 44partner colleges and universities. These young people are graduating at a rate of 90 percent.
In an effort to increase the college-going and graduation rates of veterans at highly selective colleges and universities across the country, The Posse Foundation, in partnership with Vassar College joined forces to announce its Veterans Posse Program, a new college success initiative. Posse plans to expand this initiative to other colleges and other cities over the next several years.
By adapting the Posse model to serve U.S. Veterans, Posse believes that it can exponentially increase the college-going rates and success of veterans on elite college campuses. Vassar College has committed to adopting the program on its campus and will supplement GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon funding to guarantee full tuition for each admitted veteran. Posse, using its unique recruitment method, will each year identify, recruit and train the veterans. The Veterans Posse will attend college together and receive support from both Posse and Vassar through to graduation.
This year’s recipients have demonstrated exceptional leadership and remind us of the immense value that veterans can bring to selective institutions of higher education and to the workforce.
The members of this first class of veterans hail from all across the country, from communities big and small—from New York City to Copperas Cove, Texas. They have served in Afghanistan and Iraq as specialists in the Army, machine gunners in the Marine Corps, and engine mechanics in the Air Force, to name a few. Among them are:
- A recipient of the Purple Heart whose heroism in combat was matched by the tenacity he displayed while recovering from severe head injuries sustained in battle;
- A decorated veteran who led over 150 missions as one of the youngest tank commanders in his division and who, through community outreach and relationship building with residents in major opposition strongholds, facilitated successful elections in Baghdad in 2005;
- A medic who risked his life saving a fellow soldier wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Iraq and went on to become a researcher at the Institute for Surgical Research, exploring ways to improve battlefield treatments.
These are just a few of the many stories of leadership that characterize this distinguished group of men and women.
It is Posse’s ultimate goal to develop a new kind of national leadership network—one that is truly diverse and better able to reflect the voices of all Americans. Posse recognizes the important role that veterans will play in establishing this diverse network of leaders.
The Posse Foundation is one example of the many organizations around the nation working to improve veteran success on campus. Educational success continues to be a key element of ensuring our veterans continue to reach their true potential when they return home. For more information on The Posse Foundation visit www.possefoundation.org. To learn more about what you can do to help veterans and military families, visit joiningforces.gov.
Statements and Releases
President Barack Obama meets with Chief of Staff Jack Lew in the Oval Office, Jan. 31, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)