Engage and Connect

President Obama is committed to making this the most open and participatory administration in history. That begins with taking your questions and comments, inviting you to join online events with White House officials, and giving you a way to engage with your government on the issues that matter the most.

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Latest News

  • A Real Festival of Lights: Hanukkah at the White House 2014/5775

    On Wednesday, December 17, the President and Mrs. Obama welcomed members of the American Jewish community to the White House to celebrate Hanukkah. For the second year, they hosted two receptions in the Grand Foyer of the White House. Guests represented the breadth of the Jewish community, including leaders from a wide range of local and national Jewish organizations, religious leaders representing the various Jewish denominations, state and local elected officials, Administration officials, Members of Congress, academics, musicians, authors, and other members of the Jewish community.

    The receptions featured performances from Jewish college a cappella groups and the U.S. Marine Band. The food preparation occurred under the strict rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Lubavitch Center of Washington (Chabad), in cooperation with the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington.

    Watch on YouTube

  • Student Voices Session: Shining a Spotlight on Native Youth in Foster Care

    15 foster care youth representing American Indian and Alaska Native nations talk with Secretaries Duncan and Jewell

    Seanna Pieper-Jordan (far right) joins 14 other current and former foster care youth representing American Indian and Alaska Native nations from across the United States in a discussion with Secretaries Arne Duncan and Sally Jewell. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Education's blog. See the original post here.

    Youth from every ethnicity and population group experience challenges. American Indian and Alaska Native youth in the foster care system often also must contend with a disconnection from their tribal communities and cultures.

    On Dec. 8th, I attended a Student Voices session at the White House hosted by the Department of Education (ED) and Department of Interior. During this time, I witnessed the Obama Administration turn a corner on an issue that is too often invisible to the general public and politicians — understanding the plight of Native youth in foster care.

    Fifteen current and former foster care youth representing American Indian and Alaska Native nations from across the United States sat down with Secretaries Arne Duncan and Sally Jewell at the event to discuss the unique struggles that Native youth face.

    They all courageously shared stories of survival before entering foster care and of a heartbreaking desire to remain connected to their tribes when placed in foster homes far from their tribal communities. For me, their stories and my own share a key message — take us away from our homes and our culture, and you take us away from our identity and our drive to achieve.

  • Obama Administration Brings Global LGBTI Community Together to Advance Human Rights and Development

    Last month, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, where I work, co-hosted the third-annual Conference to Advance the Human Rights of and Promote Inclusive Development for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons. The international conference brought together public and private donors, civil society activists, and the private sector.

    While this gathering wasn't the first of its kind -- previous such conferences were held in 2010 in Stockholm and in 2013 in Berlin -- participation in this year’s event grew significantly, including representation from 30 governments from all regions of the world. When combined with advocates from civil society organizations, more than 50 countries were represented, as well as 9 multilateral agencies, including the United Nations and the World Bank.

    More than 25 governments and multilateral organizations signed a joint communiqué affirming their commitment to increased cooperation, coordination, and communication to advance the human rights of and promote inclusive development for LGBTI persons around the world.

  • Nominate a White House Champion of Change for Climate Education and Literacy

    Communities across the United States are working to advance understanding of climate variability and change. Local leaders are helping to increase science-based understanding and awareness of current and future climate change, enhancing climate literacy in K-12 classrooms, on college and university campuses, and in parks and museums across the country.There has been tremendous progress to date, but there is still more work to be done.

    A climate-literate workforce will be required for tomorrow’s community leaders, city planners, and entrepreneurs to have the information, knowledge, and training to make sound choices and grow businesses in the context of a changing climate. That’s why on December 3, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, focused on connecting Americans of all ages with the best-available, science-based information about climate change. This initiative builds upon a Call to Action around climate education and literacy that received nearly 150 submissions from schools, communities, individuals, and organizations across the country.  These responses demonstrated the magnitude and diversity of efforts underway and articulated ideas for future action. 

    Today, we’re asking you to help us identify and honor local leaders who are taking action to enhance understanding of climate change as Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy. These extraordinary leaders will be invited to the White House to celebrate their accomplishments and amplify their work to promote climate education and literacy as a critical step toward building an educated, next-generation American workforce that grasps the climate change challenge and is equipped to seek and implement solutions.

    Please submit nominations by midnight on Tuesday December 23rd, 2014. Nominees may include the following types of individuals:

    • Educators who serve as leaders in promoting and integrating best-available climate science into their classrooms.
    • Outstanding students who demonstrate a high proficiency in climate knowledge and skills and leadership both inside and outside of the classroom.
    • Young scientists who are advancing understanding of climate impacts and solutions.
    • Leaders from, organizations that are developing high-quality, science-based tools, resources, and other learning opportunities for students of all ages.
    • Individuals from place-based institutions (zoos, parks, aquaria, museums, etc.) that are effectively engaging visitors around climate change.
    • Business leaders taking action to enhance understanding and awareness around climate change.

    Click on the link below to submit your nomination (be sure to choose Climate Education and Literacy in the "Theme of Service" field of the nomination form):

    Nominate a Climate Education and Literacy Champion of Change

    We are looking forward to hosting this event and to highlighting the incredible work that people across the country are doing to advance climate education and literacy.

    Laura Petes is Senior Policy Advisor for Climate Adaptation and Ecosystems in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

  • Director Rodríguez attends the Mayors Summit on Immigration Implementation with Secretary Johnson and Senior Advisor Jarrett

    The original post can be found HERE on the official blog of USCIS.

    On Monday, December 8, I was honored to join Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, at the Mayors Summit on Immigration Implementation, hosted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mayors from large and small cities around the country came to participate, and it was a pleasure to meet with them and discuss the important work ahead.

    The summit is part of the effort led by Cities United for Immigration Action, a coalition formed by mayors “to support and help implement President Obama’s executive action on immigration.”

    In all, there were 18 mayors and 26 cities represented at the summit. 

    The Secretary provided the mayors with a brief overview of the actions announced by the President, and reiterated the Administration’s view that the administrative actions are no substitute for Congress enacting comprehensive immigration reform.  

    In my remarks, I noted the importance of the existing partnerships and collaboration we have with many of the cities represented at Gracie Mansion, including working together in our outreach and public engagement efforts. Cities can be strong allies as we reach out to those seeking help from USCIS – both through the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, the naturalization process, or the new efforts announced by President Obama. I had the privilege of participating in a similar dialogue with commissioners of offices of immigrant affairs and other senior staff from the cities represented at the summit.

    As we continue to meet with people around the country on these issues, we want to remind potential applicants that they can find the most recent and accurate information at uscis.gov/immigrationaction (and sign up for updates), and of course, they should be mindful of scams. Working together with mayors, and other key partners and stakeholders, we can make sure the public has the information they need to make the best informed decisions.

  • House Republicans Vote to Make Immigration System Worse, Not Better

    Eighteen months after the Senate passed a comprehensive, commonsense bill on immigration reform with bipartisan support; House Republicans still don’t have a plan to fix our broken system. Instead, House Republicans passed a bill this week that intends to reverse steps the President took to hold undocumented immigrants accountable and prioritize our safety as a nation. Those who voted “yes” for the proposal voted to prevent millions of undocumented immigrants from undergoing national security and criminal background checks, and make it more difficult for them to pay taxes.  Those who voted “yes” voted to go back to a system where immigration officials don’t prioritize deporting criminals and terrorist threats, which would also tear apart millions of immigrant families -- many of whom have been living here for decades.

    On November 20th, President Obama announced immigration accountability executive actionsthat will better secure our border, hold potentially more than 4 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules and pays their fair share of taxes.  These actions will allow undocumented immigrants who have resided in the United States for at least five years, are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and are non-priorities for removal to seek temporary immigration relief, on a case-by-case basis, by registering, passing background checks, and getting right with the law.  These actions would also give additional DREAMers the opportunity to request immigration relief through the existing Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. 

    There is a long history of Presidents – both Democrats and Republicans – taking necessary executive actions to improve our immigration system.  Every president since President Eisenhower has taken action to address immigrations issues.  As a result, many more immigrants have come, stayed, and contributed to the strength of the United States.  Since the founding of our nation, the strength of America draws from generations of immigrants is a fact that’s woven deeply into the fabric of history.

    The President stands strongly opposed this bill that would separate families, hurt DREAMers, and weaken the safety of our nation.  President Obama believes in fixing our immigration system with Congressional action by creating comprehensive, commonsense immigration reform. But until Congress is ready to step up and take action, the President will fix the immigration system within the limits of his authority by securing our border, holding immigrants accountable, and ensuring everyone plays by the same rule.

    The President doesn’t stand alone.  A broad coalition of leaders and organizations, including faith, labor, Latino, and domestic violence groups, strongly oppose the proposal and continue to call on Congress to enact commonsense immigration reform.

    •         Bishop Elizondo, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration

    “The proposed bill could have unintended consequences by unreasonably limiting the ability of this and future Administrations to enforce immigration law efficiently and to ensure public safety….Rather than attempting to rescind the Administration’s recent executive actions on immigration, the U.S. House of Representatives should act on a comprehensive and permanent solution to our immigration challenges by passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation that addresses all aspects of our immigration system.”

    •         William Samuel, Director, Government Affairs Department, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

    “In the sixteen months since a bipartisan majority of the Senate passed S. 744, Republican Leadership has failed to schedule a vote or move any comprehensive immigration reform bill, like H.R. 15, through any House committee. This failure to act, combined with increased enforcement efforts, has created a crisis in our nation’s immigrant communities and in workplaces across the country. Rather than providing a solution, the Republican Leadership is advancing a bill that will deny millions of aspiring Americans the opportunity to live and work without fear.”

    •         Margaret Moran, President, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

    “The Latino community sees this bill, and the anti-immigrant rhetoric used by some Representatives who support it, as a political attack against Latino immigrants designed to appeal to a small but vocal group of ethnocentric white voters. It is extreme and unnecessary and does nothing to fix our broken immigration system…If the House of Representatives prefers Congressional over Presidential action as we do, then you should pass a bill such as H.R. 15 which would supersede the President’s actions, fix our broken immigration laws and provide needed relief to millions of people who are Americans in spirit if not yet on paper.”

    •         National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women

    “This fall we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), which has, since it was first enacted, included critical protections for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. Congressman Yoho’s amendment undermines protections from removal for victims of domestic and sexual violence, dating violence, stalking, trafficking, and child abuse, and undermines the purpose and spirit of VAWA.”

    We need to spend our time in Washington, DC working to pursue commonsense solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems.  This include fixing the broken immigration system.  The President supported the bipartisan Senate bill last year and will work with anyone in Congress that wants to make the immigration system better, not worse.

  • When Tribes Compete, Tribes Can Succeed

    U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez meets with 15-year-old Ki Fredeen

    U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez meets with 15-year-old Ki Fredeen at Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fab Lab on Monday, July 21, 2014. Fredeen was showing the Secretary how he uses a 3-D printer to produce small art pieces. (by U.S. Department of Labor)

    Ed. note: This was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog yesterday. See the original post here.

    When President Obama made his first trip to Indian Country earlier this year, he told a compelling story about the impact federal investment and partnerships have in tribal communities. So I was privileged today to participate in the President’s sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference. Because of the challenges tribal communities continue to face with high rates of unemployment and barriers to opportunity, the conference was an important chance to discuss the Department of Labor and Administration’s efforts to create shared prosperity in Indian Country – and to hear from tribal leaders directly about their ideas for expanding and improving our work.

  • The Facts about the Affordable Care Act and Immigration Enforcement

    The ability to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace provided by the Affordable Care Act is open again.  The deadline to enroll for coverage starting January 1, 2015 is December 15, 2014, and the deadline to enroll for coverage for the rest of 2015 is February 15, 2015. 

    In this period of open enrollment, it is important to remind the public of a message that we have delivered before:

    We have heard that some Americans who are eligible to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace are reluctant to do so because they fear that the information they provide on their health coverage applications will be shared with immigration authorities and used to deport their undocumented family members.  This is not true.

    Since October 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or “ICE,” as the agency is commonly known) has had a policy that states that the information you present on your application to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will not be the basis for pursuing an immigration enforcement action.  This policy remains in effect.  The policy is available, in English and in Spanish, on ICE’s public website; it can be found here.   A policy like this is not new, as we have issued similar guidance when it came to the information provided for the 2010 Census and after natural disasters that impacted immigrant communities.

    No one in America who is eligible should be afraid to apply for health coverage because they have a family with mixed immigration status.   Enrolling in health coverage – and using the health insurance that this important law extends to eligible individuals – will not prevent your loved ones who are undocumented from getting a green card in the future or put family members who do not yet have a green card at risk.  

    We all deserve the security and the peace of mind that comes from having health coverage that’s there for us – that we can count on when we need it most   The Obama Administration is doing everything we can to make sure we reach as many of those who are eligible to enroll as possible. I encourage eligible individuals to go to HealthCare.gov or CuidadodeSalud.gov to check out their options and enroll.