By Jueseppi B.
State and Local Officials in the South Speak Up to Fix the Broken Immigration System
Across the country, Democratic and Republican state and local officials are speaking out about the need for commonsense immigration reform. This week, we’ll share thoughts from governors, mayors, county executives, state legislators, attorneys general, treasurers and more about why they support immigration reform and how fixing the broken immigration system would impact their communities.
Miami-Dade, Florida Mayor Carlos Gimenez
“For too many years our country has struggled to find an effective solution to immigration reform, with the central issue being the question of how to deal with undocumented workers. We have been encouraged, however, that in recent months a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators has been working together to establish a path that allows those workers, the great majority of whom are hard-working dignified individuals, to become lawful tax-payers. It is important for the continued growth and competitiveness of our country that we find a solution to this issue, and I urge Congress to continue working together to establish a fair, but humane, solution that establishes such a path.”
Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Kasim Reed
“There is no doubt that the economic, social and cultural contributions of immigrants continue to enrich our cities and communities. We cannot ever forget that immigrants have helped make our nation stronger. This is an issue of great importance here in Georgia, and as such, I support President Barack Obama’s proposal to achieve meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.”
Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell
“In Birmingham, we recognize the value of diversity. We strive to be inclusive and to give a sense of respect for all cultures and all races. Here in the cradle of the Civil Rights struggle, our history mandates that we embrace all cultures and ensure that all are treated equally and fairly and with the honor they deserve.”
Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer
“Louisville is a growing international city in the heartland of America. Comprehensive immigration reform is essential for us to spur entrepreneurism and grow jobs. America’s population represents all of the immigrants of the world. The quicker immigration reform is addressed and resolved, the quicker our international competitive economic advantage will accelerate.”
Memphis, Tennessee Mayor AC Wharton
“Tennessee has become one of our nation’s new destination states for immigrants. For Memphis and our entire region, the need for immigration reform is one that has crystallized around our community’s persistent need for a qualified workforce. With the South remaining extremely viable in economic development, we have come to better understand how creating a pathway to citizenship is a real opportunity to strengthen our workforce and our local economy.”
Little Rock, Arkansas Mayor Mark Stodola
“As Arkansas recorded the nation’s fourth-largest percentage increase in immigrant population during the last decade, it’s important that we have policies that welcome our new neighbors rather than relegate them to a second-class status. Our country was built on the American Dream in which anyone could build a good life for their family, regardless of who they are or where they came from. Unfortunately, our immigration policy has not lived up to that noble ideal. It’s time for Congress to act and come up with a commonsense immigration policy.”
Alexandria, Virginia Mayor William Euille
“America’s success as a nation has been due to the ‘diversity’ of our population by immigrants coming to this country, our cities and towns for an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their families and others. They bring with them energy, vibrancy and the will to survive and succeed, in addition to the economic, social and cultural benefits for all. To this end, I fully support President Obama’s four point Immigration reform proposal, which calls for comprehensive immigration reform to help stimulate the economy, grow the nation’s workforce, and remain competitive in the 21st century global marketplace.”
“I am calling on my colleagues and others to join me in support of comprehensive immigration reform. A well regulated system leads to greater economic opportunities for immigrants and strengthens family ties which in turn help to build stronger communities. Many families throughout our history were composed of sons and daughters of immigrants. They were only looking for a hand up and not a hand out. Their contributions to this country are unlimited. A comprehensive immigration system ensures liberty and justice for all. It will take a strong bipartisan effort for this to occur. We have achieved many great things in this country. It is not time to turn the hands of change backward.”
Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Harvey Johnson
“I stand with President Obama on common sense immigration reform. We have an opportunity to create an immigration system that is both fair for Americans and for those immigrants wanting to be a part of our great nation. Now is the time to address this critical issue.”
South Carolina State Representative Todd Rutherford
“It is no secret that the immigration system in the United States is broken. Fortunately, passing comprehensive immigration reform has never been more attainable than it is right now. We all agree that we must strengthen our borders, crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers and provide a reasonable path to citizenship. It is so important that we bring the 11 million undocumented workers in this country out of the shadows and require them to learn English, pay taxes and penalties, and pass background checks before they can obtain citizenship. These are non-partisan, common-sense approaches to solving our nation’s immigration problems.”
Durham, North Carolina Mayor Bill Bell
“Durham is a city with a creative class and a city of entrepreneurs, which we encourage and support. Immigration reform would be a tool that would work to allow many of these international students to remain in our city upon graduation to practice their learned skills, while facilitating the continued progressive entrepreneurship of our city specifically and our state and nation in general.”
For more information:
- CBO Report: Immigration Reform Will Shrink the Deficit and Grow the Economy
- Read more about commonsense immigration reform
- President Obama: The Best Chance We’ve Had in Years to Fix Our Broken Immigration System
President Obama Speaks to the People of Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate
04:30 PM EDT
Published on Jun 19, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed crowds gathered in Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate, a historic location for past U.S. presidents. It is the spot where John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963 and where Ronald Reagan called for then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this Wall.” Watch their speeches:
In his address, President Obama renewed focus on reducing nuclear weapons, calling for a one-third reduction of the world’s nuclear stockpiles.
Nearly 50 years to the day after President John F. Kennedy delivered his historic speech to a city divided by the Cold War,President Obama spoke to the people of Berlin about the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Germany, and the values we share.
A symbol of the Germany’s progress since President Kennedy’s visit, President Obama spoke from the east side of Brandenburg Gate – something that would have been impossible if not for the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
“While I am not the first American President to come to this gate, I am proud to stand on its Eastern side to pay tribute to the past,” President Obama said.
For throughout all this history, the fate of this city came down to a simple question: Will we live free or in chains? Under governments that uphold our universal rights, or regimes that suppress them? In open societies that respect the sanctity of the individual and our free will, or in closed societies that suffocate the soul?
This is what was at stake here in Berlin, President Obama said.
And because courageous crowds climbed atop that wall, because corrupt dictatorships gave way to new democracies, because millions across this continent now breathe the fresh air of freedom, we can say, here in Berlin, here in Europe — our values won. Openness won. Tolerance won. And freedom won here in Berlin.
But two decades later, this work is not yet done, President Obama said. “Today’s threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity — that struggle goes on.”
I say all this here, in the heart of Europe, because our shared past shows that none of these challenges can be met unless we see ourselves as part of something bigger than our own experience. Our alliance is the foundation of global security. Our trade and our commerce is the engine of our global economy. Our values call upon us to care about the lives of people we will never meet.
When Europe and America lead with our hopes instead of our fears, we do things that no other nations can do, no other nations will do. So we have to lift up our eyes today and consider the day of peace with justice that our generation wants for this world.
Advancing the values our two nations believe in also means pursuing a world without nuclear weapons, which is why President Obama announced new steps today to reduce our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third.
While in Berlin, President Obama also held bilateral meetings with German President Joachim Gauck, and the country’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel. President Obama and Chancellor Merkel held a joint press conference following their discussion.
For more information:
- Learn more about President Obama’s trip to Northern Ireland and Germany
- President Obama participates in the G-8 Summit in Lough Erne
- Fact Sheet: Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy in the United States
President Obama and Chancellor Merkel Hold a Press Conference
June 19, 2013 | 46:32
President Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany hold a press conference.
We the Geeks: Building a 21st Century Resume
Watch “We the Geeks” on a 21st Century Resume live on Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT at WH.gov/WeTheGeeks. Join the conversation and ask your questions with the hashtag #WeTheGeeks. Sign up to get email updates about future hangouts.
In the same way that “merit badges” have been used by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and medals have been used by the military to demonstrate achievement, a growing number of foundations, government agencies, companies and non-profits are exploring “digital badges” as the 21st century equivalent of a resume-builder that students and workers can use to showcase their skills, encourage their peers, and find meaningful educational and employment opportunities.
- Recognize student accomplishments in technical fields such as computer science and robotics;
- Help veterans get jobs by demonstrating the valuable real-world skills they’ve acquired in the military;
- Inspire students as part of a larger effort to reduce the number of high-school dropouts, which today number more than 1 million per year.
While much work is yet to be done to build an evidence base for the value of badges in various contexts, the badges movement is growing. In March, the City of Chicago, Mozilla, MacArthur, and 143 other organizations launched the “Summer of Learning.” The effort will recognize student learning whether it occurs at a park, museum, library or online course – and give learners digital credentials that communicate the skills they have developed. And just last week, MacArthur announced a major multi-year goal: to work with partners to give two million more students and adults access to compelling digital badges that help them achieve education and employment goals.
Building on the President Obama’s call to action to look for new and creative ways to engage students in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, as well as his ConnectEd plan to deliver high-speed Internet to 99% of American students, some Federal agencies are exploring the potential of badges as well. From a major topic at the Department of Education’s Reimagining Education conference last month to the work byNASA to create space explorer badges, a number of Federal agencies are exploring digital badges in both education and employment.
On Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, the White House will host a “We The Geeks” Google+ Hangout on digital badges. During a conversation moderated by OSTP’s Tom Kalil, we’ll be talking about the potential of digital badges to help students and adults with:
- Erin Knight, Sr. Director of Learning & Badges, Mozilla Foundation
- Connie Yowell, Director of Education for U.S. Programs, MacArthur Foundation
- Bryan Norato, student, University of Rhode Island
- Richard Culatta, Acting Director, Office of Educational Technology, Department of Education
Watch the “We the Geeks” Hangout live on WhiteHouse.gov/WeTheGeeksand on the White House Google+ page on Thursday. Got questions and comments? Use the hashtag #WeTheGeeks on Twitter and on Google+ and we’ll answer some during the live Hangout.
Thomas Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at OSTP
White House Rural Council Growing Rural Economies, Creating Jobs
This week is National Small Business Week. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), along with agencies across the Obama Administration, are hosting events in five cities. These events provide expert advice, mentoring and explore topics ranging from access to capital to exporting. Small businesses across the country can tune into these events via livestream at sba.gov.
America’s small businesses create two out of three net new private sector jobs in our economy. And today more than half of all working Americans either own or work for a small business. Our goal is to ensure that the positive economic benefits of entrepreneurship can reach every corner of the country.
That’s why today the White House Rural Council is announcing new commitments to increase access to capital and to provide additional training and counseling services to rural small businesses and entrepreneurs.
For Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have committed to support a combined $175 million in microloans to small businesses in rural areas, in addition to new business training and counseling opportunities. To date, in FY13, we have already supported nearly $85 million to rural small businesses. Since 2009, USDA and SBA have provided over 19,000 loans and grants, helping more than 60,000 rural small businesses through programs like USDA-Rural Development’s Intermediary Relending Program and SBA’s Microloan Program.
Twenty-five percent of SBA’s microloans go to rural entrepreneurs. And the SBA provides nearly 30 percent of its in-person training and counseling sessions in USDA-designated rural communities. Our goal, at SBA, USDA and across the Obama Administration, is to continue to fill the gaps for loans in underserved rural communities and to ensure that rural entrepreneurs have the resources and training they need to turn a great business idea into a viable and growing business.
As President Obama wrote in his proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, “America’s small businesses reflect the best of who we are as a Nation — daring and innovative, courageous and hopeful, always working hard and looking ahead for that next great idea. They are our economy’s engine and our biggest source of new jobs.”
By taking an inclusive view of entrepreneurship, one that expands access and opportunity to more rural communities, we can spur new business formation, innovation, job creation and build strong regional economies across Rural America.
Karen Mills is the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Association.
Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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