Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • In the Northeast, Leaders Demand an Immigration System that Lives up to Our Heritage as a Nation of Laws and a Nation of Immigrants

    Ed. note: This post is the third in a series of five. Check back on the White House Blog throughout the week for more statements from leaders around the country.

    This week, we’ve heard the views of state and local officials in the South and Midwest who know that we need to fix the broken immigration system. Today, we hear from officials in the Northeast who explain how commonsense immigration reform is consistent with our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

    "A fair, sensible immigration policy made our country great, and has repeatedly renewed and enriched the City of Burlington throughout its history.  One of the most inspiring experiences I've had as an elected official has been participating in a naturalization ceremony.  Our immigrants serve our community as professors and farmers, skilled laborers and doctors; they are our neighbors, our students, our friends.  Today's broken immigration system is out of step with the welcoming and supportive character our country should strive to demonstrate.  By passing comprehensive immigration reform, we will strengthen America's economy, communities, and spirit." 

    Burlington, Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger

    “In the City of Hartford, reforming immigration laws could increase foreign professionals and skilled workers, immigrant populations could serve as conduits to export goods and services, and ultimately it could increase our tax base. Passing comprehensive immigration is right thing to do for our country's future and it's a decision our children and generations to come will be proud of."

    Hartford, Connecticut Mayor Pedro Segarra

    “I encourage Congress to enact bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform. America’s current immigration system is broken, harms our economy, and does not reflect our values as a nation. For years, the federal government has failed to address the issue and left our communities and states to deal with the effects. Now is the time to reform our nation’s immigration system to benefit all Americans, so that we can prosper as a nation. Managing the immigration process is a federal responsibility that requires a federal solution. I applaud the President for offering a comprehensive immigration plan and I hope that Congress will now work across party lines to find workable solutions.”

    Delaware Governor Jack Markell

  • Leaders Across the Midwest Urge Immigration Reform to Strengthen the Economy

    Ed. note: This post is the second in a series of five. Check back on the White House Blog throughout the week for more statements from leaders around the country.

    Yesterday, bipartisan state and local officials in the South explained why now is the time for immigration reform. Today, leaders in the Midwest share why they support immigration reform and how fixing the broken immigration system will help their communities by strengthening the economy, spurring innovation and increasing U.S. trade and exports.

    "For America to be competitive in the 21st century, it's critical that we implement an effective system for legal immigration. It should be a system that honors our country's heritage and also one that recognizes immigrants as valuable members of our communities who have long fueled our economic engine.”

    Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

    “From our early days as an auto town to our new economic direction, South Bend has always built on the contributions of generations of hard-working families who became Americans by choice. Our city will be better off when Congress finally acts to fix our broken immigration system. This community needs Washington to do what it takes to ensure that such talented and capable people have the chance to legally and fully contribute to our economy, and share the blessings and burdens of citizenship.”

    South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg

    “Our nation’s federal immigration laws and policies are broken, and an overhaul is long overdue.  I support President Obama’s leadership in trying to reform our nation’s immigration system.  The President’s comprehensive proposal secures our borders, provides a clear path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants who act responsibly, and holds businesses accountable when they hire people who aren’t here legally.”

    Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

  • State and Local Officials in the South Speak Up to Fix the Broken Immigration System

    Ed. note: This post is the first in a series of five. Check back on the White House Blog throughout the week for more statements from leaders around the country.

    Across the country, Democratic and Republican state and local officials are speaking out about the need for commonsense immigration reform. This week, we’ll share thoughts from governors, mayors, county executives, state legislators, attorneys general, treasurers and more about why they support immigration reform and how fixing the broken immigration system would impact their communities.

    “For too many years our country has struggled to find an effective solution to immigration reform, with the central issue being the question of how to deal with undocumented workers.  We have been encouraged, however, that in recent months a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators has been working together to establish a path that allows those workers, the great majority of whom are hard-working dignified individuals, to become lawful tax-payers.  It is important for the continued growth and competitiveness of our country that we find a solution to this issue, and I urge Congress to continue working together to establish a fair, but humane, solution that establishes such a path.”

    Miami-Dade, Florida Mayor Carlos Gimenez

    “There is no doubt that the economic, social and cultural contributions of immigrants continue to enrich our cities and communities. We cannot ever forget that immigrants have helped make our nation stronger. This is an issue of great importance here in Georgia, and as such, I support President Barack Obama’s proposal to achieve meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.”

    Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Kasim Reed

    “In Birmingham, we recognize the value of diversity. We strive to be inclusive and to give a sense of respect for all cultures and all races. Here in the cradle of the Civil Rights struggle, our history mandates that we embrace all cultures and ensure that all are treated equally and fairly and with the honor they deserve.”

    Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell

    “Louisville is a growing international city in the heartland of America. Comprehensive immigration reform is essential for us to spur entrepreneurism and grow jobs. America's population represents all of the immigrants of the world. The quicker immigration reform is addressed and resolved, the quicker our international competitive economic advantage will accelerate.”

    Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer

  • State and Local Officials Voice Support for Nomination of Anthony Foxx

    On Monday, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next Transportation Secretary.

    Following the announcement, state and local officials across the country spoke out about the nomination and voiced their support for their colleague.

    Avondale, Arizona Mayor and President of the National League of Cities Marie Lopez Rogers

    “I applaud President Obama’s nomination of Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the next Secretary of Transportation. The Mayor has done an excellent job implementing transportation projects and programs in his city to the benefit of all Charlotte residents and businesses. I’m confident that he will bring this same leadership and know-how to the nation’s capital and will be an excellent addition to the President’s cabinet."

    Fresno, California Mayor Ashley Swearengin:

    “I am so pleased that the President has chosen a fellow mayor and good friend as Secretary of Transportation. Anthony Foxx understands the key role transportation infrastructure plays in unlocking economic growth in our cities and our nation.  I look forward to working with Secretary Foxx on transportation issues of local, regional and national significance.”

  • President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, as Next Transportation Secretary

    President Barack Obama announces Mayor Anthony Foxx, of Charlotte, N.C., as his nominee for Transportation Secretary

    President Barack Obama announces Mayor Anthony Foxx, of Charlotte, N.C., as his nominee for Transportation Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, April 29, 2013. Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood applauds at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This afternoon, President Obama announced that he intends to nominate Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next Secretary of Transportation.

    If confirmed, Mayor Foxx will follow in the footsteps of one of the best Secretaries of Transportation ever, Secretary Ray LaHood. During Secretary LaHood’s tenure, he has been a tireless advocate for rebuilding America’s infrastructure and creating good jobs that strengthen the economy.

    As the President shared in his remarks, one of the things that Secretary LaHood understands well is the value of establishing strong relationships with the nation’s mayors, governors and county officials. In continuing that tradition, the President noted that Mayor Foxx has “the respect of his peers, mayors and governors all across the country.”

    As leader of one of America’s most vibrant cities, Mayor Foxx has a record of delivering on transportation. Since he took office, Charlotte has broken ground on a new Streetcar Project, expanded the international airport, and extended the city’s light rail system. He knows firsthand the importance of investing in transportation and how that investment can be a catalyst for job creation and greater opportunities for all residents.

    Today, we thank Secretary Ray LaHood for his extraordinary service, leadership, and record of accomplishment.  Looking forward, we know that Mayor Foxx’s experience and deep knowledge of the impact of federal transportation policy on local communities will make him an extraordinary Transportation Secretary.

    David Agnew is Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

  • States Step Up to Help Veterans and Spouses Get Back to Work

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013, April 17, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis, Md., April 17, 2013. Seated, from left are, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Gov. Martin O'Malley, and House Speaker Michael Busch. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    NOTE: This blog is cross-posted from the Joining Forces blog

    President Obama and the First Lady are committed to doing everything in their power to assist the brave men and women who have served our country in re-entering civilian life and finding employment. Over the last year and a half, the President has overseen the first re-design of the military’s transition assistance program in twenty years; created new tax credits to spur veteran hiring; expanded re-employment services, including the Veterans Job Bank and the Veterans Gold Card; and launched a series of initiatives to expand the number of veterans that get jobs in healthcare and first responder fields. Additionally, under the great leadership of the First Lady and Dr. Biden, Joining Forces has expanded hiring and training partnerships with the private sector in an effort to help our veterans and their spouses get back to work.

    Yet, our veterans still face major hurdles as they transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce. According to a 2012 survey by Prudential and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 60 percent of survey respondents said they had trouble translating their military skills into civilian job experience, creating a significant barrier to employment. Many high-demand, good-paying jobs like paramedics, truck drivers, nurses, and welders, require either a national certification or state occupational license to be hired, and currently our national and state systems make it very difficult for service members and veterans to obtain these civilian certifications and licenses that directly translate to their military training. Often times service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive these occupational credentials, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential training requirements. And employers, many with significant needs for skilled workers, are left waiting for these military members to complete these, oftentimes lengthy, credentialing training programs – programs that many veterans could have taught themselves.