- Posted byon January 9, 2015 at 6:11 PM EST
Yesterday, I traveled with President Obama to Central High School in Phoenix, Arizona where he highlighted the great progress the housing market has made in recent years. When the President took office six years ago, our nation was facing an historic economic crisis, so he acted quickly to stabilize the housing market and protect the middle class. These efforts helped folks stay in their homes, revitalize communities and shape a housing market that’s gaining momentum.
As HUD Secretary, I’m determined to keep this progress going by ensuring that every creditworthy borrower has a chance to achieve their homeownership dreams. Right now, there are too many families who can afford a home, and would love to purchase one, but can’t because the costs of the loan are too high. That’s why we’re taking action. Yesterday, the President announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will reduce annual mortgage premiums to 0.85 percent. For the typical first-time homebuyer, this reduction will translate into $900 of savings in their annual mortgage payments, money that can be used to pay for a child’s education, to save for retirement or to spend at local small businesses — benefiting the overall economy.
This is critical for the Latino community. More than 60 percent of Hispanics who are first time homebuyers use an FHA-insured loan, so this means big savings for many families. In addition, existing homeowners who refinance into an FHA mortgage will also benefit from lower mortgage payments. In total, this action will help millions of families save billions of dollars in mortgage payments in the coming years, fueling additional improvements in the housing market.
The President’s measures are part of a broader effort to expand responsible lending to creditworthy borrowers and increase access to sustainable rental housing for families not ready or wanting to buy a home. In the coming months, the Administration will be taking additional measures to cut red tape and work with lenders to build on today’s announcement so that the housing market better serves middle class families.
We will continue to do all we can to help folks build better lives, to build a stronger economy and to build a future that provides opportunity for all.
- Posted byon January 7, 2015 at 10:08 AM EST
To view the original blog post, click HERE.
Yesterday, President Obama welcomed Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his delegation to the White House. Yesterday's meeting marked Mr. Nieto's first White House visit as the President of Mexico.
"It's appropriate that our first meeting of the year is with one of our closest allies, neighbors, and friends," President Obama said.
The two Presidents discussed a range of topics, including immigration, economic growth, security, and Cuba. Both voiced their desire for 2015 to be a great year for the U.S.-Mexico relationship -- "a relationship which is mainly based on friendship, cordiality, mutual respect, shared interests for prosperity and development for our nations," President Peña Nieto said.
Keep reading for excerpts from the Presidents' remarks after yesterday's meeting.
"I described to President Peña Nieto our efforts to fix our broken immigration system here in the United States and to strengthen our borders as well. I very much appreciate Mexico’s efforts in addressing the unaccompanied children who we saw spiking during the summer. In part because of strong efforts by Mexico, including at its southern border, we’ve seen those numbers reduced back to much more manageable levels. But one of the things that we both agreed on is our continued need to work with Central American governments so that we can address some of the social and economic challenges there that led to that spike in unaccompanied children.
"And at the same time, we very much appreciate Mexico’s commitment to work with us to send a very clear message around the executive actions that I’m taking -- that we are going to provide a mechanism so that families are not separated who have been here for a long time. But we’re also going to be much more aggressive at the border in ensuring that people come through the system legally. And the Mexican government has been very helpful in how we can process and message that effectively both inside of the United States and in Mexico."
President Peña Nieto:
"The executive action for immigration ... is of course an act of justice for people who arrive from other parts of the world but are now part of the U.S. community. And among the population that will surely be benefited through your executive action, sir, there’s a very big majority of Mexican citizens.
"And I have shared two fundamental topics on this item. The first is the support the Mexican government is ready to give to the Mexican population living in the United States so that they can show the documentation that is necessary to prove that they have been in the United States before 2010, and also of course to have all the other requirements that are demanded for the Mexican population to be benefited through the execution. [And] yesterday we announced that the migrants in the United States are going to be able to get their birth certificates without having to go to Mexico."
On economic growth:
"I’ve congratulated President Peña Nieto on some of his structural reforms that I think will unleash even further the enormous potential of the Mexican economy. And we also have discussed how we can continue to work on issues like clean energy; scientific and educational exchanges; improving cross-border commerce; and continuing to strengthen the kinds of mutual investment and trade that creates jobs both in Mexico and the United States."
President Peña Nieto:
"We want to continue promoting investments, as it’s already happening in our country -- first of all, because we believe that these investments can be so helpful, and we want to continue having American investors in Mexico because this is an example of the way we recognize that Mexico is a trustworthy destination, a place where they can invest. And this is something we are going to continue to be doing."
"Obviously we’ve been following here in the United States some of the tragic events surrounding the students whose lives were lost. And President Peña Nieto was able to describe to me the reform programs that he’s initiated around these issues. Our commitment is to be a friend and supporter of Mexico in its efforts to eliminate the scourge of violence and the drug cartels that are responsible for so much tragedy inside of Mexico. And we want to be a good partner in that process, recognizing that ultimately it will be up to Mexico and its law enforcement to carry out the decisions that need to be made."
President Peña Nieto:
"I thank you, President Obama, for your willingness to continue working with Mexico in terms of security, especially this clear challenge Mexico has to continue fighting organized crime. And here we've been discussing topics that have to do with security, of course, and the collaboration, the exchange of information and the logistics support that we’re already getting. And I want to thank you, President Obama, for offering to continue these very efficient actions, first, to fight insecurity and especially organized crime."
"I described my initiative to end the 50-year policy with relation to Cuba, to move towards what we hope will be a more constructive policy but one that continues to emphasize human rights and democracy and political freedom. And at the Summit of the Americas, one of the things I informed Peña Nieto is we will participate but we’ll insist that those topics are on the agenda."
President Peña Nieto:
"We have offered our desire, our hope to collaborate in this effort so that as soon as possible you can continue with this reestablishment of relations with Cuba and that you can accomplish all the purposes you have set up to accomplish. And Mexico will be a tireless supporter of the good relationship between two neighbors. This is the neighbor in the Caribbean, the neighbor north of Mexico, Cuba and the United States."
- Posted byon December 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM EST
In his 2014 State of the Union address, the President stepped onto the world stage and declared 2014 a breakthrough year for America. Since then, that’s exactly the kind of change this country has seen. The President’s top priority remains ensuring middle class Americans feel secure in their jobs, homes and budgets.
Since taking office, every issue the Obama Administration has addressed has been of vital importance to the Hispanic community, from promoting job creation and a fair wage to addressing climate change, from making sure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care and a good education to fighting for commonsense immigration reform and standing up for the civil rights of all Americans.
“We were strangers once, too.”
Those words echoed a nation when President Obama spoke in November on his immigration executive action to bring millions of immigrants out of the shadows. The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will help secure the border, hold 4 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 21, 2014
America has added 10.9 million jobs over the past 57 months in a row, extending the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record. While there is more work to be done to continue economic progress among Latinos, the Latino unemployment rate has dropped from 8.7% in November 2013 to 6.6% in November 2014.The Hispanic unemployment rate has fallen 6.5 p.p. since its peak of 13.1% in August 2009.
— La Casa Blanca (@lacasablanca) December 29, 2014
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 10 million Americans gained health insurance – and the uninsured rate hit a near-record low. Additionally, 8.8 million Latinos with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost sharing.
— La Casa Blanca (@lacasablanca) November 15, 2014
America took the lead in confronting the world’s most pressing challenges, including cutting loose the anchor of failed policies of the past, by charting a new course in Cuba that will engage and empower the Cuban people. More information can be found HERE.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 18, 2014
America’s high school graduation rate is the highest it’s ever been, and more students are earning post-secondary degrees than ever before. The number of Hispanic students enrolled in college jumped by 45 percent from 2008 to 2012, with over a million Hispanic students enrolled today.
— La Casa Blanca (@lacasablanca) October 1, 2014
The President called for states and businesses to lift their minimum wages. And millions of hardworking Americans will get a raise. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour makes a difference in the lives of around 28 million workers — roughly one quarter of the workers who would benefit from that raise are Latinos.
— La Casa Blanca (@lacasablanca) August 13, 2014
And the President made it easier for women to take control of negotiations about their pay.
— La Casa Blanca (@lacasablanca) August 26, 2014
The Administration took steps to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault on college campuses.
— La Casa Blanca (@lacasablanca) September 19, 2014
For more information on the President’s accomplishments for Latino communities, read HERE.
- Posted byon December 19, 2014 at 7:59 AM EST
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.
- Posted byon December 18, 2014 at 3:03 PM EST
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.
- Posted byon December 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM EST
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.
- Posted byon December 11, 2014 at 4:37 PM EST
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):
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 JarrettPosted byon December 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM EST
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.