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

  • 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.   

     

     

  • Local Food, Local Places: Bringing Expertise and Creative Thinking to Community Economic Development

    Around the country, communities are seeking creative approaches to integrating entrepreneurship, environmental management, public health, and other place-based considerations into successful economic planning. Local food development can be one strategy.

    The White House Rural Council and six federal agencies have selected 26 communities to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing direct technical support and expertise to community partners integrating local food systems into regional economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of federal agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health, and regional economic experts will work directly with communities to develop specific local food projects. These efforts will make a significant impact in the communities participating in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative.  

  • Building Trust Between Communities and Local Police

    Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have grabbed the attention of the nation and the world, and have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities that they protect.

    The Administration announced new steps we’re taking to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are obligated to protect and serve, including:

    • Advancing the use of body worn cameras and promoting proven community policing initiatives
    • Creating a new task force to promote expansion of the community-oriented policing model, which encourages strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities that they serve as a proven method of fighting crime
    • Reforming how the federal government equips state and local law enforcement – particularly with military-style equipment

    Get more details about these new actions below.

  • Helping to Boost Business Development for Native American Entrepreneurs

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Small Business Administration's blog. See the original post here.

    Native American Heritage Month is a time to reflect on the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. The month is a time for Native people to share their culture, traditions, art, and ways of knowing with the entire nation. American Indians and Alaskan Natives were also the country’s first entrepreneurs, and the SBA is working hard every day to ensure that the entrepreneurial spirit of Native people continues to thrive.

    The SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs offers a variety of Entrepreneurial Empowerment workshops nationwide. These workshops provide specialized training to new entrepreneurs and to established Native American businesses that are positioned to grow. They are developed to be culturally relevant and responsive to the challenges and needs of their communities.

    This year alone we’ve held 19 workshops in 17 states, and more than 50 tribes have sent representatives. We also hold 8(a) business development workshops nationwide that focus on the unique rules and considerations for tribally and Native-owned corporations and organizations. In 2014, over 500 individuals representing 109 different tribal communities attended these sessions. In 2015, we will be increasing our number of workshops to ensure that we reach even more entrepreneurs throughout Indian Country.

  • National Tribal Day of Action for Affordable Care Act Enrollment

    Today is the National Tribal Day of Action for Affordable Care Act Enrollment!  Enrollment events are taking place across the nation and President Obama wants to ensure that every American Indian and Alaska Native has the information they need to take advantage of the health care options available under the health care law. 
     
    Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell spoke directly to tribal leaders and community members on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Secretary encouraged action from tribal leaders and community members, to get them, their friends, and their relatives enrolled!  Today’s National Tribal Day of Action on Affordable Care Act enrollment is a perfect opportunity for Indian Country to rally with community partners in health to get yourself, your friends, and your family enrolled.  Please join us in this effort to get covered with quality, reliable, and affordable health care insurance.
     
    Many Native Americans currently use an Indian Health Service (IHS) or a tribal health facility and that is not changing. But private health insurance offers new protections. Taking advantage of the new health insurance options provided by the Affordable Care Act can give American Indian and Alaska Native families the peace of mind of knowing they have comprehensive health insurance, even outside of the IHS system. 
     
    If you’re a member of a federally-recognized tribe and under a certain income level, you might even qualify to pay reduced or no costs for a private health care policy, including low or zero out-of-pocket costs. Also, you can check to see if your state has expanded Medicaid, as you might now qualify!
     
    Many American Indians and Alaska Natives who have signed up for health insurance coverage through the healthcare marketplace report that they were surprised at just how affordable it can be to get covered. Many are eligible for assistance to lower or even eliminate their monthly insurance premiums. And, if you’re a member of a federally recognized Tribe and you choose to buy a private health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs like co-pays or deductibles. Many American Indian and Alaska Native families are also finding that they are now eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Overall, this can add up to more reliable and more comprehensive health care at little to no cost.
     
    The new health care law is another way the federal government is honoring its trust responsibility and obligations to Tribes. Ensuring that additional health care options are available for all Native Americans is simply another step in our ongoing efforts to promote well-being and economic prosperity in Indian Country. 
     
    But you need to act to ensure that you and your family fully benefit from the new health care law.  Every American Indian and Alaska Native should learn more about how the Affordable Care Act can benefit them as soon as possible. The best way to review your options is to go to HealthCare.gov/tribal.  You can also visit your local IHS or tribal clinic, or you can call 1-800-318-2596.  
     
    Raina Thiele is Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House.

  • Observing National Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Today, November 20th, 2014, we observe National Transgender Day of Remembrance, as a solemn occasion to honor those who have lost their lives or experienced violence because of their gender identity or gender expression. We honor those who continue to experience violence and recommit to changing hearts and minds in order that all people are free from discrimination, hatred, and violence including transgender people.

    Here at the White House, President Obama and the Administration are committed to continuing to support transgender Americans and protecting their rights from harm and oppression. This year marked the five-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, critical civil rights legislation that have since expanded federal hate crimes protections to include gender, gender identity, disability, and sexual orientation. 

    At the recognition of the 5th Anniversary of the Shepard Byrd Act, we highlighted the fact that never before had gender identity or gender expression been included under federal protections against hate crimes. More importantly, we recognized the heroic leadership of transgender people across the country who made this federal inclusion possible, and who bravely worked to implement the law through education of communities and law enforcement officials across the country. We recognized Mara Keisling, a prominent leader in the transgender community for her work toward securing equal protection under law for transgender Americans. We also heard from Kylar Broadus on the continuing challenges in the way of preventing hate crimes, and his unique perspective experiencing discrimination based on gender identity plus race, reminding us of the need to address the intersectionality of these issues as we work together to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes more effectively.

    Across President Obama’s Administration, agencies are taking steps to expand equality for transgender Americans:

    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overturned the exclusion of Medicare for transition-related care
    • The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance clarifying that Title IX’s existing sex discrimination prohibition includes "gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity"
    • The U.S. Department of Justice issued firm implementing guidelines for the first-ever non-discrimination provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization, providing clear guidelines prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination under federal law

    The continued commitment by President Obama and the Administration is a reflection of the unwavering and courageous leadership of the transgender community, whose lives are often in jeopardy as they come out or simply live their lives. Today, we stand proud of the work we’ve done as a community, but reaffirm that much work remains so that the countless innocent lives were not lost in vain. Together, we can continue to make that difference.

    Aditi Hardikar is the Associate Director for the Office of Public Engagement