By Jueseppi B.
Remarks by the President at Law Enforcement Briefing on Immigration
Published on May 13, 2014
During a law enforcement briefing, the President delivers remarks on fixing our broken immigration system, May 13, 2014.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
12:01 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Have a seat. Have a seat. Well, it’s wonderful to see all of you. Some of you I’ve had the chance to get to know working on law enforcement issues and criminal justice issues. But I cannot thank you enough for participating today on an issue that I think is important to our economic future, to our cultural future, to our standing in the world and to our safety and security, and that’s the issue of immigration.
I’m here with some of the leaders of America’s law enforcement agencies who recognize that fixing a broken immigration system isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also the right thing to do for safety and security in communities all across America.
The immigration system that we have right now makes it harder, not easier, for law enforcement agencies to do their jobs. It makes it harder for law enforcement to know when dangerous people cross our borders. It makes it harder for business owners who play by the rules to compete when they’re undercut by those who would exploit workers in a shadow economy. And it makes it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs when large segments of the community are afraid to report crimes or serve as witnesses because they fear the consequences for themselves or their families.
This system is not fair. It’s not fair to workers; it’s not fair to businesses who are trying to do the right thing; it’s not fair to law enforcement agencies that are already stretched thin.
Now, the good news is the Senate has already passed a bill with a wide, bipartisan majority that would go a long way towards fixing a broken system. It would strengthen our borders even further. And I’m sure Jeh has talked to you about the work that’s been done over the last five years — we have put unprecedented resources at the borders, and you’ve seen the results. We have fewer folks coming in than ever before. And the personnel that is arrayed along our borders is well beyond anything that we saw five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. So we take border enforcement seriously.
But what this reform package would also do is create a firm but fair pathway to earned citizenship for those who live in the shadows — and as a consequence, would give law enforcement a better idea of who’s in the country. It would also help build trust between local communities and law enforcement and immigrant communities. It would undermine criminal enterprises that prey on undocumented immigrants. And it would allow law enforcement to focus on its primary mission, which is keeping our communities safe.
And these are some of the reasons why a broad, bipartisan coalition — including law enforcement agencies like the ones who are represented today — is pushing Congress to go ahead and get the job done, get us over the finish line and do it this year.
I hope all of you keep it up because it’s making a difference. A number of Republicans are realizing that blocking immigration reform is not an option, and that’s the good news. And most Americans, the majority of Americans, know this is the right thing to do. Public opinion is on our side on this. Unfortunately, we’ve got a handful of House Republicans right now who are blocking going ahead and letting legislation get to the floor.
To their credit, I think Speaker Boehner and some of the other leaders there do believe that immigration reform is the right thing, but they’ve got to have a political space that allows them to go ahead and get it through their caucus and get it done. I’ve said to them, if they’ve got ideas I’m happy to talk to them. We’re not hell-bent on making sure that every letter of what’s in the Senate bill is exactly what ultimately lands on my desk for signature, but there are some core principles that we’ve got to get done. We’ve got to have stronger border security. We’ve got to make sure that we are dealing with companies that are not doing the right thing by workers. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got an improved legal immigration system, because a lot of folks are getting pushed into the illegal system because the waits are so long through the legal process. And we’ve got to make sure that there’s a way for people to earn some pathway to citizenship.
And keep in mind, some of these statistics you may have already heard — it’s estimated that over 80 percent of the folks who are here on an undocumented basis have been here 10 years or longer. These are folks who are woven into the fabrics of our communities. Their kids are going to school with our kids. Most of them are not making trouble; most of them are not causing crimes. And yet, we put them in this tenuous position and it creates a situation in which your personnel, who have got to go after gang-bangers and need to be going after violent criminals and deal with the whole range of challenges, and who have to cooperate with DHS around our counterterrorism activities — you’ve got to spend time dealing with somebody who is not causing any other trouble other than the fact that they were trying to make a living for their families. That’s just not a good use of our resources. It’s not smart. It doesn’t make sense.
So I know I’m preaching to the choir here. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t agree with us that this is time for us to go ahead and get moving. But I just want all of you to know your voices, particularly over the next couple of months, are going to be critical. I think people have come to expect that I’m in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. I think that people anticipate that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is going to be in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. I think people understand that there are a lot of agricultural enterprises that know how important their immigrant workers are to them. But it’s more important in some ways to get over the hump when they hear from unexpected voices.
I think the evangelical Christian community has shown itself to be foursquare behind immigration reform, and that’s a powerful voice. I think portions of the business community that people may not anticipate know that this is the key to our economic future. It would lower our deficits; it would grow our economy; it would bring in some of the most skilled people around the world. We want them to continue to come here. That’s part of our competitive advantage relative to the rest of the world. Our population is not aging the way some other populations are because it’s constantly replenished with folks who are go-getters. And hearing from law enforcement is important and I think it lends this overall effort great credibility.
So I just want to say thank you to all of you. But we’ve got this narrow window. The closer we get to the midterm elections the harder it is to get things done around here. Now, I know it’s hard to believe that things could get harder — (laughter) — that this place could get a little more dysfunctional. But it’s just very hard right before an election. So we’ve got maybe a window of two, three months to get the ball rolling in the House of Representatives. And your voices are going to be absolutely critical to that effort.
So I just want to say thank you to all of you. And while I’m here, I want to thank you for a wide range of issues that we’ve had a chance to cooperate with you on. Whether it’s dealing with counterterrorism issues and the preparations that ensure that if and when an event happens that we’re prepared, and more importantly, that we’re able to prevent such activities from taking place in the first place, or dealing with natural disasters where our first responders are always right there on the scene, day in and day out your teams, your personnel are doing heroic work on behalf of America. And we’re very, very grateful for that.
So thank you, everybody. Let’s make this happen. (Applause.)
12:10 P.M. EDT
Investing in American Ports Infrastructure
Vice President Biden will visit the CityArchRiver project in the afternoon to discuss the economy and showcase the progress of the site. The project is set to redesign the grounds and enhance the experience ahead of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Gateway Arch.
Senator Richard Durbin and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will also attend the event at the at the Arch grounds. The vice president will also attend an event at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at 5 p.m. in Alton, Ill. Vice President Biden will also attend an event at a private residence at 6:15 p.m. prior to heading back to Washington D.C.
Published on May 13, 2014
In order to more efficiently accommodate massive post-panamax ships, the United States needed to widen and deepen many of its channels and harbors. TIGER grants have channeled federal transportation funding directly to 38 port projects in 22 states designed to increase efficiency and grow the economy. President Obama has proposed new investments in transportation infrastructure to jump-start job creation & build a 21st century American economy. Learn more at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy
From The Associated Press:
Vice President Biden touts St. Louis Arch renovation project
White House Honors “Champions of Change” for Transportation
Published on May 13, 2014
The White House honors local leaders as “Champions of Change” for their leadership to ensure that transportation facilities, services, and jobs help individuals and their communities connect to 21st century opportunities. These individuals are leading the charge across the country building connectivity, strengthening transportation career pathways, and making connections between transportation and economic growth. May 13, 2014.
WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow, the White House will honor eleven local heroes who are “Champions of Change” for their exemplary leadership to ensure that transportation facilities, services, and jobs help individuals and their communities connect to 21st century opportunities. These individuals are leading the charge across the country building connectivity, strengthening transportation career pathways, and making connections between transportation and economic growth.
Across the Federal government, the Administration has been dedicated to providing “ladders of opportunity” for all Americans, by investing in connecting communities to centers of employment, education, and services, and is calling for greater emphasis on those initiatives supporting this outcome. Recent research has found that social mobility varies by geography, and poor transportation access is a factor preventing lower income Americans from gaining higher income levels than their parents. Transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity through connectivity, job creation, and economic growth. Recognizing social mobility as a defining trait of America’s promise, access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation is critical.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 10:00 am EST on May 13, 2014. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
Josh is the leader of a major investment in the development of a brand new Public Transit system in the City of Radford, Virginia. He pioneered the concept and worked with community leaders, local university administration, state officials and the Federal Transit Administration to garner support for a much needed community service. Josh dedicated his work and time over the course of three years to help make the new service a reality. It’s the first time in over 30 years there has been any transit available to the City of Radford, and it was badly needed. Radford Transit has grown rapidly providing over 325,000 passenger trips annually, even providing transfer connections throughout the entire region. Now residents can move effortlessly and reach their destinations within and between the communities of Radford, Pulaski County, Montgomery County and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg.
Professor Evelyn Blumenberg’s research examines the effects of urban structure—the spatial location of residents, employment, and services—on economic outcomes for low-wage workers, and on the role of planning and policy in shaping the spatial structure of cities. Evelyn has investigated the travel behavior of special population groups including low-income adults, immigrants, and youth; the effects of the economy on the travel behavior and transportation assets in low-income communities; and the relationship between residential location, automobile ownership, and employment outcomes among the poor. Evelyn is recommended for Ladders of Opportunity because her current research examines (1) travel behavior of low-income adults; (2) the transportation expenditure burden; and (3) the relationship between transportation and the economic outcomes of low-income families.
Dan Burden is the Director of Innovation and Inspiration for the nonprofit Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. For more than 35 years he has worked to inspire leaders in 3500 cities on ways to design cities for people first; still accommodating the auto. His work helps define the future of transportation; and is now celebrated with thousands of new innovations giving full support to walking, bicycling, transit, and living in place; driving less, enjoying life more. Dan has proven his ability to energize leaders of towns and cities to help them frame and focus on their assets, get beyond their barriers, raise the bar in design of place. He has an ability to help them focus on their values and become believers in their future, achieving their hopes and dreams, and once momentum is gained, expand to the rebuilding of their entire community.
Anthony has led TOTE to build the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered container ships in the world; TOTE is the first maritime company in the U.S. to convert its entire fleet to natural gas. As a result of his vision and leadership, natural gas suppliers are now creating distribution networks in major U.S. ports, making gas available to all transportation modes in those markets. Natural gas powered ships will achieve emissions reductions far below even the world’s most stringent regulatory standards. These emissions reductions will have long-lasting and far-reaching positive effects on the health and safety of citizens along the U.S. coastline, particularly in Washington, Alaska, Florida, and Puerto Rico where TOTE ships are part of the critical domestic supply chain. As the adoption of natural gas fuel spreads, air emissions will be lowered along the coastline as part of the North American Emissions Control Area, and additional environmental benefits will accrue in ports, on roads, and rail lines.
Greer Gillis is the Washington, D.C. Area Manager of Parsons Brinckerhoff, where she oversees transportation services staff in managing various infrastructure, planning, and design projects as well as leading client relations management, business development, and financial oversight for activities in the metropolitan Washington DC area. She is the Vice President of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) Washington, DC chapter and serves as National Chair of its “Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation” Awards Committee. She is also a past President of the Women’s Transportation Seminar International’s Washington, D.C. Chapter. Throughout her career, she has served as a role model and advocate for building a diverse transportation workforce.
For over 25 years, Marilyn Golden has led national system-change efforts that broaden the rights of people with disabilities to transportation. Marilyn has played a key role in federal policy development in the interconnected areas of transportation and architectural barriers. She has been a strong advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) throughout all the stages of its proposal, passage, and implementation, as well as a forceful watchdog through its many stages of regulatory interpretation and the regular challenges to its strong mandates. Her advocacy has been focused on a broad range of transportation issues—including fixed route buses, all forms of passenger rail systems, ADA complementary paratransit, privately-funded over-the-road buses, taxis, airport shuttles, as well as air travel. As a national transportation advocate, she has led the struggle for many of the policy victories during and since the ADA to provide better public transportation for people with disabilities. Marilyn served on the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board from 1996-2005 as a very strong and effective advocate for the interests of people with disabilities.
Daphne Izer founded the nonprofit safety organization Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) after losing her son Jeff in a fatigue related truck crash that killed three other teenagers and seriously injured a fourth. Daphne has worked tirelessly to advance truck safety in order to help prevent other families from suffering a similar, devastating loss. PATT has focused its efforts on reducing truck driver fatigue, seeking a requirement for the use of technology to accurately record truck driver hours behind the wheel and reduce falsification of driving logs, and to promoting safe trucking. Recently, PATT took another step toward realizing its goal of requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial trucks when the FMCSA released the NPRM for the ELD rule. This May, as PATT marks its twentieth anniversary, Daphne is recognized for her instrumental work in bringing attention to the urgent need for change in truck safety policy and programs, with a focus on reducing truck driver fatigue.
Flavio has played a key role applying innovative transportation technology to enhance airport safety, security and equitable access at MassPort Airport in Boston. This includes the implementation of aircraft related noise mitigation strategies for the surrounding urban communities and the greater Boston region , leading to an enhanced quality of life. Through his leadership, transparency and enhanced public participation, he has established a relationship with over 30 diverse communities, which have had a long history of engagement with Massport and the FAA. He has been the leader and “face of Massport” on an innovative program to address airport noise and other safety and technology improvements, which can be applied nationwide. Flavio was selected for his leadership and coordination for the implementation of a set of noise reduction strategies created with extensive community participation and implemented that will reduce aircraft noise impacts to the greater Boston area including to nearby disadvantaged communities.
Susan Park Rani is an inspiration and a role model for women, minorities, immigrants, and virtually anyone with a desire to pursue the American Dream and start their own business. As a leader in the transportation field, she has demonstrated that opportunities in this industry are widespread and growing—and open to all who wish to acquire the necessary skills and participate. Rani, born in South Korea, moved with her family to the United States as a child, speaking no English. She ultimately obtained a degree in civil engineering, and in 1993, at the age of 34, founded one of the first woman-and-minority-owned engineering firms in Minnesota where she grew up, with just two employees. Over the years, the company has been involved in a number of high-profile transportation projects, and today, Rani Engineering employs 50 people, the company grosses over $5 million a year, and anticipates doubling in size within the next five years. In 2012, Rani Engineering was named the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Contractor of the Year by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
For the past 25 years, “Big John Smith” has served as the Transportation Director for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes’ Joint Business Council on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. Big John is also the Rocky Mountain Regional Representative on the Tribal Transportation Committee, and the Executive Director of the Intertribal Transportation Association. Big John has succeeded in improving the reservation’s transportation infrastructure (highways and bridges), has led the effort to dramatically cut alcohol-involved crashes and fatalities on the Wind River Reservation. He has worked with tribal leaders to toughen tribal laws to enhance seat belt compliance, and has led the effort to use positive messaging to educate drivers of all ages about the dangers of drinking and driving. His love for the people of Wind River has been instrumental in building relationships with tribal, local, county, state and federal partners to save lives.
Wanda Vazquez has been an active mentor and trainer for Hispanic advocates in the Chicago area helping them become certified child passenger safety technicians. As a motivational instructor, she teaches students how to correctly install car seats and help families understand the importance of safe transportation for their children. Once the training is completed, the students become nationally certified and are able to staff car seat inspection stations or participate in community events. Statistics show that Hispanic children are at a greater risk than non-Hispanic children for injuries and death in traffic crashes because their restraint use is low. Often times this is because their parents are from home countries where car seat use is not the norm. By training Hispanic advocates on how to correctly install car seats and the value of occupant protection, they can in turn go into the Hispanic community where they are welcomed and are able to teach families the importance of keeping their children and themselves safety secured whenever they travel. Ms. Vazquez also served as the Diversity Representative on the National Child Passenger Safety Board and was instrumental in translating materials into Spanish and ensuring that the concerns of the Hispanic community were heard. Wanda is a recommended Champion for her active role as a mentor and trainer for Hispanic advocates in the Chicago.
5/13/14: White House Press Briefing
Published on May 13, 2014
White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.