- Posted byon January 22, 2015 at 12:41 PM EST
Ed. note: This is cross-posted on BET.com. See the original post here.
When Astrid Muhammad heard her phone ring this past Friday, the last thing she expected was a call from the White House inviting her to attend this year’s State of the Union as a guest of the First Lady.
A wife and mother of two young children, Muhammad woke up on a spring morning in 2013 and knew something was wrong. A visit to the doctor in May revealed a mass growing on her brain. At the time she didn’t have health insurance and delayed treatment and surgery that, according to neurosurgeons, would mean the difference between life and death. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could have refused treatment for her pre-existing tumor, charge higher rates or denied her coverage altogether. But, after discovering the Health Insurance Marketplace, Muhammad was able to find quality affordable health insurance coverage. So this past summer, she had her tumor successfully removed and is now moving on with her life.
And she is not alone. She attended the President’s State of the Union address as a representative of all those who have received insurance and care which has changed or saved their lives, or given them the peace of mind they need to rest more easily, without the worry that an unexpected health challenge could threaten their lives or livelihoods.
During this African-American Community Week of Action, leaders, communities and families across the country are working together to ensure that all of their loved ones, neighbors and fellow Americans have the health insurance they need – and that those who are not covered visit HealthCare.gov to get covered right away.
- Posted byon January 21, 2015 at 6:08 PM EST
On December 3rd, President Obama hosted the 6th annual White House Tribal Nations conference where he announced Generation Indigenous (“Gen-I”), a new initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed using a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach. In addition to leaders from the 566 federally-recognized Native nations, for the first time, 37 high-school aged “Gen-I” Native Youth Ambassadors were invited to engage with the President, Vice President, and Cabinet Officials representing the White House Council on Native American Affairs on key issues facing tribes. The Conference built on the President’s visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in June, during which he and First Lady Michelle Obama met with a group of Lakota young adults and learned about the obstacles and problems they had experienced resulting from substance abuse, violence and other poverty-related issues.
Through “Gen I”, the Youth Ambassadors represented the voice of Native youth at the Conference by joining with tribal leaders in breakout sessions and panels and participating in leadership development programming. Click here to learn more about Gen-I! The 2014 Youth Ambassadors came from across the country, from Alaska to North Carolina, and are an inspiring group with big plans for making a positive impact in their communities. Over the course of their trip to D.C., they participated in exciting events in advance of the Conference, including a White House screening of MTV’s riveting Rebel Music: Native America premiere episode followed by a panel discussion including Rebel Music creator Nusrat Durrani and Lakota rapper Frank Waln and a signing ceremony for a new MOU between the Indian Health Service and Nike N7, which included a visit with 2014 FIFA World Cup Kiowa soccer player Chris Wondolowski. Several of the Ambassadors were featured in a new MTV video “Meet Generation Indigenous” that followed two of the youth on their inspiring journey from their home communities to Washington, D.C.
- Posted byon January 21, 2015 at 5:31 PM EST
Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his commitment to policies that will help more middle class families and reward hard work so paychecks go further to cover the cost of health care, a home, and a secure retirement. We wanted to take a moment to spotlight 6 key policies that will particularly impact Latino families.
1. Making Owning a Home More Affordable for Middle Class Families by Cutting Mortgage Premiums: While the housing market is now on firmer footing – with rising home values, falling foreclosures, and fewer families underwater – too many creditworthy and qualified families who want to purchase a home are shut out of homeownership opportunities by today’s tight lending market. In response, the President announced a major new step that his Administration is taking to make mortgages more affordable and accessible for creditworthy families. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will reduce annual mortgage insurance premiums by 0.5 percentage point from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent. More than 60 percent of Hispanics who are first time homebuyers use these FHA-insured loans, so this means big savings for many families. For the typical first-time homebuyer, this reduction will translate into a $900 reduction in their annual mortgage payment.
2. Strengthening Paid Sick Leave Policies for Working Families: When 43 million private-sector workers are without any paid sick leave, too many workers go to work sick. Too many parents must choose between taking an unpaid day off work—losing much-needed income and potentially threatening his or her job—and sending a child to school who should be home in bed. Currently, only 43% of Hispanic workers have access to paid leave. The President is proposing more than $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs, following the example of California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
Check out this video from Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on why paid sick is critical for American workers.
3. Making Two Years of Community College Free for Responsible Students, So Every Child in America Has Access to At Least Two Years of College: President Obama has proposed an ambitious new effort to make two years of college free for responsible students. The proposal, would make two years of college as free and universal as high school, reduce the cost of a four-year degree, and improve the quality of community colleges that enroll almost 40 percent of all undergraduate college students today. For Hispanic students, community colleges are the primary source of high education. The high cost of attending college is one of the factors limiting access to post-secondary education for Latinos, though their enrollment rates have improved since 2012.
4. Fixing the Broken Immigration System: President Obama continues to urge Congress to fix our broken immigration system by strengthening our border security, holding employers accountable, creating an earned path to citizenship so that undocumented immigrants can play by the same rules as everyone else, and modernizing our legal immigration system to boost our economy and reunite families. After waiting for the House to act on comprehensive immigration reform, in November the President acted within his legal authority to help secure the border, hold millions of undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules and pays their fair share of taxes. According to an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers, these actions would raise average wages for US-born workers by $170 in ten years. As the President acts, he’ll continue to urge Congress to work with him on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill, but will not allow ideological fights to roll back the progress we’ve made.
5. Charting a New Course on Cuba: In Cuba, the President is ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. The shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in the hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo.
6. Ensuring All Working Families Have Access to High-Quality, Affordable Child Care: Our current tax code for child care is unnecessarily complex and insufficient to cover the costs most families face. The President’s proposal would streamline child care tax benefits and triple the maximum child care credit for middle class families with young children, increasing it to $3,000 per child. This would benefit 5.1 million families, helping them cover child care costs for 6.7 million children, including 3.5 million children under 5. The President’s child care tax proposal will complement substantial additional new investments in the President’s Budget to improve child care quality, access, and affordability.
- Posted byon January 20, 2015 at 12:25 PM EST
No matter your device, WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU is the place to watch President Obama's State of the Union address today at 9 p.m. ET and this year there are many ways for the Latino community to engage, including LIVE bilingual updates on social media. Spanish-language closed captioning is available HERE and opportunities to ask White House officials about Latino and immigration issues. The policies that the President will put forth in tonight’s State of the Union address will impact millions of Latinos by expanding opportunities for the middle-class, so don’t forget to tune in.
Stream the address and follow along with exclusive interactive bilingual graphics and charts showing what the announcements mean for you.
Then, be sure to stick around after the speech for an exclusive live video Q&A.
On the day after the State of the Union, join us for an online, all-day open house: Ask questions across social media using #AskTheWH and follow along.At 12:00PM on January 21st, there will be an hour dedicated to issue affecting Latinos and immigration featuring @Cecilia44, @Vargas44 and @LaCasaBlanca.
We’re calling it Big Block of Cheese Day, in honor of President Andrew Jackson’s 1837 open house featuring a 1,400-pound block of cheese. (Read more about that here.)
A New Kind of Interview
Finally, on Thursday, January 22, we’re teaming up with YouTube for a special interview with President Obama.
We’re inviting top YouTubers here to the White House to interview the President, including Latina @BethanyMota – but they’re asking your questions.
You won’t want to miss this one.
The State of the Union 2015: Everything You Need to Know
Watch the exclusive enhanced speech live at WH.gov/SOTU on Tuesday, January 20, at 9 p.m. ET.
Follow @LaCasaBlanca on Twitter and La Casa Blanca on Facebook for LIVE bilingual updates and infographics in Spanish.
Visit WH.gov/SOTU to sign up for speech reminders, ask a question for post-speech follow-up, and get updates on the issues.
The White House is Open for Questions: Get Ready for Big Block of Cheese Day 2.0
Share which issue you'd most like to see progress on in the time we have left.
- Be sure you get all the latest updates by following the White House on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.
- Watch the exclusive enhanced speech live at WH.gov/SOTU on Tuesday, January 20, at 9 p.m. ET.
- Posted byon January 16, 2015 at 10:44 AM EST
This week, House Republicans put at risk critical funding that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to keep our nation safe by insisting on a series of amendments to overturn the President’s immigration accountability executive actions.
The GOP plan would roll back the enforcement priorities DHS has put in place to ensure that our nation’s law enforcement priorities are focused on felons, not families. House Republicans should not be playing politics with funding for DHS, an agency whose mission is focused on protecting our nation from dangerous criminals, as well as national security and terrorist threats.
Instead of proposing new ideas for how to address our broken immigration system, House Republicans are playing games with the resources we need to protect our country. They are keeping us from moving forward on critical investments in cybersecurity, disaster recovery, counterterrorism efforts, and incident response. And they are only perpetuating the current broken immigration system that everyone agrees must be fixed.
Chief of Staff Denis McDonough Underscores America’s Solidarity with France, and with Jewish Communities Across the WorldPosted byon January 14, 2015 at 2:29 PM EST
On Tuesday, January 13, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough joined Members of Congress; France’s Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Gérard Araud; the American Jewish Committee (AJC); and hundreds of people from the local Jewish community and many other Jewish organizations at “A Gathering of Solidarity and Remembrance With the People of France and Its Jewish Community” at Congregation Adas Israel in Washington, D.C.
His remarks underscored our nation’s solidarity with the people of France and with Jewish communities throughout the world following the terrorist attacks in Paris, as well as our commitment to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world.
McDonough’s remarks as delivered follow:
Thank you for the opportunity to join you this evening to pay tribute to the victims and heroes from last week’s terrorist attacks in France. On behalf of the President, I am here to affirm our nation’s solidarity with the French people and the Jewish community in France and around the world, to condemn in the strongest terms the violent attacks of last week and to remember the precious lives of the fallen.
The violence, hatred and intolerance that motivated these senseless attacks upon people going about their daily lives – at work at Charlie Hebdo or at their local kosher supermarket just before Sabbath, must be condemned and will be defeated.
I’m honored to be here this evening with Ambassador Araud, AJC, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Alan and Judy [Gross], a couple that personifies strength and perseverance, and all of you who have come here tonight in solidarity and remembrance with our brothers and sisters in France and all of you who have come here tonight in solidarity and remembrance with our brothers and sisters in France.
As President Obama has said, France is our oldest ally. Ours is a relationship that goes back centuries to the founding of our two great republics. We stand in solidarity with the French people, and share a steadfast commitment to the values of liberty, free expression, coexistence, and religious freedom that were so cruelly and violently assaulted in Paris last week.
The violent assault on the Jewish community in France that took place on Friday afternoon – as the Jewish community in Paris was in the final hours of preparing for the restfulness and peace of the Sabbath – was the latest in a series of troubling incidents in Europe and around the world that reflect a rising tide of anti-Semitism.
We will not waver in our commitment to combating the scourge of anti-Semitism. This is not an issue for any single community or nation to deal with by itself. We must all do our part. And we will. From the President on down, you have my commitment that we will wage this fight together.
Thank you for giving me and my colleagues the opportunity to be with you this evening.
The Chief of Staff was joined at the service by White House colleagues, including Charlie Kupchan, NSC Senior Director for Europe; Steve Pomper, NSC Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights; Melissa Rogers, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; and Matt Nosanchuk, NSC Director for Outreach. In addition, Julieta Valls Noyes, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Ira Forman, Special Envoy to Monitor Combat Anti-Semitism, represented the State Department.
- Posted byon January 12, 2015 at 1:04 PM EST
"Without insurance, my parents, who are of humble economic means, would surely be in financial ruin for the rest of their lives."
Last year, Alex M. from Castro Valley, California wrote the President to thank him for the Affordable Care Act.
Until January of 2014, Alex’s parents had been without health insurance since the recession. But under the Affordable Care Act, they were able to get quality, affordable insurance.
And it came just in time. A few months later, Alex’s father suffered a stroke and had to undergo emergency and intensive medical care. He would later require extensive physical therapy and radiosurgery to correct the cerebral abnormality that caused his stroke.
“If it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act, [my parents’] home and life savings would be lost to medical bills,” Alex wrote.
Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at HealthCare.gov.
Already covered? Commit to help someone you know get covered here.
And if you want to share your own story, contact us here.
- Posted byon January 12, 2015 at 11:02 AM EST
In November 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to fix our broken immigration system. As part of these actions, the President created a White House Task Force on New Americans. We are proud to serve as the co-chairs of this federal interagency Task Force, which will focus on the civic, economic and linguistic integration of new Americans and creating welcoming communities for all residents.
As the President’s memorandum states:
Civic integration provides security in rights and liberties. Economic integration empowers self-sufficiency and allows new Americans to give back to their communities and contribute to economic growth. English language acquisition allows employment and career advancement along with active civic participation.
We are, and will continue to be, a nation of immigrants. On average, the United States welcomes approximately 1 million lawful permanent residents and more than 700,000 newly naturalized citizens each year. These new Americans contribute significantly to our economy. In fact, while foreign-born residents make up 13 percent of the population, they represent over 16 percent of the labor force and start 28 percent of all new businesses creating jobs for millions of Americans.