Read all posts from November 2013

  • First Lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, along with Obama family pets Bo and Sunny, welcome the arrival of the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 29, 2013.

    First Lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, along with Obama family pets Bo and Sunny, welcome the arrival of the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Today, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed the delivery of the Official White House Christmas Tree. The tree, a 18 1/2-foot high and nearly 11 foot wide Douglas Fir arrived in a horse-drawn carriage.

    Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room each year since 1966.  This year, the tree will be presented to the First Lady by the Botek family, growers of this year’s tree, and the Wyckoff family, winners of the National Christmas Tree Association’s National Christmas Tree contest. The Boteks are second-generation Christmas Tree farmers from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, PA, and the Wyckoff farm has been family owned for six generations -- since 1839. This year, four trees from the farm will be featured throughout the White House during the holiday season.

    The official White House Christmas Tree will be displayed in the heart of the White House: the Blue Room. As in many years past, the tree will be decorated in honor of military families.  

    Learn more about past White House Holidays and stay tuned for more information about this years White House holiday décor. 


    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice meets with a member of the Afghan security forces
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice with Generals Kilrain, Dunford and McConville at Bagram Airfield
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice with LTC Jean-philippe
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice receives a briefing from Generals McConville and Lewis at Camp Gamberi
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice meets with soldiers at Camp Gamberi
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice meets with senior members of the Afghan security forces
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice with SFC Moravac
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice hugs a soldier at the Niagara DFAC at Kandahar Airfield
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    • National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice with American and Afghan forces at Camp Morehead
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    • Ambassador Susan E. Rice with General Dunford and Ambassador Cunningham
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    • National Security Advisor Susan. E. Rice meets with students at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul
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    On her first foreign trip as National Security Advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice spent three and a half days in Afghanistan to thank our troops and civilians around the holidays, and assess the situation on the ground. 

    Afghanistan continues to be one of the United States’ top national security priorities, and this was opportunity for Ambassador Rice to take stock of our efforts and meet with American troops serving in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and our civilians at the U.S. Mission to Afghanistan.

  • In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in August 2013.  This release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to over 3.4 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section.

  • President Obama and the First Lady visited the brave individuals who are fasting in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing their health in an effort to get Congress to act swiftly on commonsense immigration reform.

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visits with a group staging a public fast for immigration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Nov. 29, 2013. "Fast for Families" is seeking to pressure Congress into passing an immigration bill. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, the President and the First Lady visited the brave individuals who are fasting in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing their health in an effort to get Congress to act swiftly on commonsense immigration reform. The President and the First Lady gave their support for their fight for family unity this Thanksgiving weekend, as families across the country come together to spend time with loved ones.

    Since November 12, fasters from “Fast For Families” have abstained from all food except water in an effort to bring attention to the urgent need for the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives to take a vote on comprehensive immigration reform. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and I have also visited Fast For families in recent weeks.

    The fasters shared their stories and described empty stomachs but full hearts as they received an outpouring of support; to date, more than 3,000 people around the country have committed to fasting in solidarity.

    The President and the First Lady thanked Eliseo Medina, Dae Joong Yoon, and all of the fasters for their sacrifice and dedication and told them that the country is behind them on immigration reform.  He said that the only thing standing in the way is politics.  And it is the brave commitment to change from advocates like them that will pressure the House to finally act on immigration reform.

    This Thanksgiving, as friends, family, and community gather in the spirit of unity, we lend our support to those fighting for making commonsense immigration reform a reality. We will stand with them every step of the way to make sure that we bring coherence to our immigration laws, and pass a common sense reform that is consistent with our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

  • Update: See how President Obama and Administration Officials celebrated Small Business Saturday 2013 over at Storify.

    November 30 is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support small businesses in the holiday season and all they do for their communities. 

    In the past, President Obama has been no stranger to enjoying all that this country's small businesses have to offer. 

    Check out some moments of the President at some of his favorite small businesses, then make sure shop small and support the great businesses in your area this Saturday. You can also check out SBA’s tips on how to prepare for the holiday season at

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      "How about a White House beer? The President delivered a bottle of White House beer and the customer reacted in celebration." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama talks with diners at Lechonera El Barrio restaurant while waiting for his lunch order during a stop in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 2, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama samples fudge offered by Squirrel's Den fudge shop owner LaDonna Secrist, left, during a stop in Mansfield, Ohio, Aug. 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama shares his strawberry pie with a boy during a lunch stop at Kozy Corners restaurant in Oak Harbor, Ohio, July 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      First Lady Michelle Obama poses with an employee during a visit to Mom's Apple Pie Co. in Occoquan, Va., June 7, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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      President Barack Obama talks with a patron at Reid's House Restaurant in Reidsville, N.C., during a lunch stop on the American Jobs Act bus tour, Oct. 18, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama has lunch at Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C., with staff members who worked on the debt negotiations, Aug. 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama browses crafts and antiques at Grasshoppers store in LeClaire, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama looks at candy on display at Donckers in Marquette, Mich., February 10, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      "The President has lunch with Sen. Bob Casey at the Famous 4th Street Deli in Philadelphia. I love the woman in the background on the phone, probably alerting her family about her lucky seat." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama stops to buy treats at the Gingerbread House Bakery in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama picks up his sub after meeting with five small business owners at Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J., July 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with patrons at 12 Bones restaurant in Asheville, N.C., April 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama greets patrons during a lunch with small business owners and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski at Hamilton Family Restaurant in Allentown, Pa., Dec. 4, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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      President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden wait for their lunch during an unannounced visit to Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., May 5, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    Click here to see the full size photos and their captions. 

  • Welcome to this Thanksgiving Edition of West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and beyond. This week, the President traveled to the west coast for a three day, three city swing, sat down for an interview with Barbara Walters, met with student entrepreneurs, held a video conference with Peace Corps volunteers, and announced a breakthrough in diplomatic talks with Iran. That's November 22rd to November 28th or "Kindness Covers All of My Political Beliefs."

  • In his weekly address, President Obama gave thanks to all the men and women defending our freedom and acknowledged their sacrifice might mean they can’t spend the holidays with their families. The President also recognized that as Americans, we gather together this Thanksgiving to lift up those who need a helping hand, letting us move forward as a country and lead us to a brighter tomorrow.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • We've come a long way since 11-year-old Tad Lincoln convinced his father to "adopt" a turkey named Jack in 1863.

    Today, President Obama pardoned two 20-week-old, 38-pound turkeys named Popcorn and Caramel -- and announced Popcorn as the official "National Thanksgiving Turkey," after the American public weighed in on their favorites via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
    The President noted:
    The competition was stiff, but we can officially declare that Popcorn is the winner -- proving that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in politics. As for Caramel, he’s sticking around, and he’s already busy raising money for his next campaign.
    And so, all "Hunger Games" references aside, both turkeys will live. Popcorn and Caramel will spend the rest of their natural days in the historic rolling pastures of Morven Park's Turkey Hill -- located at the home of former Virginia governor Westmoreland Davis in Leesburg, Virginia.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Labor blog. See the original post here.

    If you have had the chance to step onto a community college campus recently, you know the special role they are playing in rebuilding the American economy. Over the last three years, this administration has made unprecedented investments in the community college system through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training − or TAACCCT − grant program. These grants encourage schools across the country to work with each other, with the workforce system and with employers to create cutting edge training programs that prepare workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

    Report from the Road: Community Colleges Leveraging Partnerships for Economic Growth

    At Cleveland Community College in Shelby, N.C., Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary Perez listen in as Kenneth Dover (second from right) talks about his experience making the transition from the Marines to a career in "mission critical" IT operations.


  • Throughout President Obama's career, he has been fighting for young people. Whether it is increasing access to higher education, or expanding health care coverage, giving young people a fair shot has been and always will be a priority.

    The President also believes in reaching out to youth across the country to make sure we’re hearing what they have to say, and helping them better understand the policies and programs that impact them. That’s why, on Wednesday, December 4th, we’re hosting over 150 leaders from across the country at the White House for a Youth Summit. The Summit will offer young people coming to the White House and across the country a chance to discuss the Affordable Care Act and others issues important to them.

    WH Youth Social

    Even if you can't be at the Summit in person, we still want to hear from you! 

    On Monday, December 2nd at 8:00 p.m. ET, join White House Senior Commnications Advisor Tara McGuinness, Kal Penn, and Young Invincibles for a Google+ Hangout. During this live video chat, we'll announce the winners of the "Healthy Young America Video Contest," preview the upcoming Youth Summit, and take questions about the Affordable Care Act and what It means for young Americans.  

    You can watch the Hangout live on the White House Google+ page.  Have a comments or questions? Ask them using the  hashtag #WHYouth on Twitter and on Google+ and we'll answer some of them during the live Hangout.

    Additionally, on December 4th, you can watch the Summit live starting at 2:00 pm ET on Throughout the day White House staff, HHS officials, and other special guests will be taking questions submitted on twitter using the hashtag #WHYouthSummit. 

    Kyle Lierman serves Youth Liaison in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • This Saturday, November 30th, I will join a number of White House and Cabinet Officials, along with millions of Americans around the country, in paying tribute to small businesses, which drive our economy, and help to define the spirit of our communities. 

    I will be spending Small Business Saturday in Chicago, to start on my holiday shopping, and reacquaint myself with the small businesses lining my hometown streets, and breathing life into my neighborhood.

    There is of course, no need to wait for Small Business Saturday to enjoy the local delicacies and the unique goods being sold in our communities.  It can be a concerted effort throughout the year, and an ongoing priority for all Americans.  The President certainly sees it that way, and has made support for small business a top priority every day he has spent in office.

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy to employees at the DreamWorks Animation SKG movie studio in Glendale, Calif., Nov. 26, 2013.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy to employees at the DreamWorks Animation SKG movie studio in Glendale, Calif., Nov. 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Yesterday, President Obama visited the DreamWorks Animation Campus in Glendale, California, where he spoke about the economy before an audience of nearly 2,000 Dreamworks employees, including CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
    The President began by calling entertainment "one of America's biggest exports" -- and, in some ways, a part of American diplomacy:
    It’s part of what makes us exceptional, part of what makes us such a world power. You can go anywhere on the planet and you’ll see a kid wearing a “Madagascar” T-shirt. You can say, “May the Force be with you” -- they know what you’re talking about. Hundreds of millions of people may never set foot in the United States, but thanks to you, they’ve experienced a small part of what makes our country special. They’ve learned something about our values. We have shaped a world culture through you.
    He then reflected on the significant economic progress that we've made over the past several years: including reining in spending after years of trillion-dollar deficits, changing the tax code to be fairer toward middle-class Americans, winding down two wars, and creating 7.8 million new jobs over the past 44 months -- all the while cutting our deficits by more than half.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from The Huffington Post. See the original post here.

    Ensuring the full freedom of women as health care consumers to access essential preventative health services is a vital component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And nowhere are health decisions more personal or essential to keep in their hands, than those regarding reproductive health. The ACA was designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor, and not by her boss, or Washington politicians.

    Today, there are people trying to take this right away from women, by letting private, for-profit corporations and employers make medical decisions for their employees, based on their personal beliefs.

    A group of for-profit companies are currently suing to gain the right to deny employees access to coverage for birth control and contraceptive care, which are used by the overwhelming majority of American women in their lifetimes. Among the first cases to reach the Supreme Court is one filed by Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain whose owners want to be able to take the option for birth control benefits away from their employees.

  • Today, the Administration released new data showing that Affordable Care Act is helping more seniors save more money on their prescription drug costs.

    Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, more than 7.3 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs, an average of $1,209 per person since 2010.

    Before the Affordable Care Act, many people with Medicare Part D would pay out-of-pocket for the entire cost of prescription drugs once they hit the coverage gap in prescription drug benefits known as the “donut hole.” Beneficiaries continued paying full price for prescriptions until reaching catastrophic coverage.

    But under a discount program in the Affordable Care Act, anyone with a Medicare prescription drug plan who reached the prescription drug donut hole in 2010 got a $250 rebate. Beginning in 2011, beneficiaries who landed in the donut hole began receiving discounts on covered brand-name drugs and savings on generic drugs.

  • Typically, the holidays are a moment when many Americans volunteer to help the most vulnerable. Others make charitable contributions that can last throughout the holiday season. Next week, we will celebrate #GivingTuesday, a worldwide effort to raise awareness and motivate action for the common good.

    Started by the United Nations Foundation and the 92d Street Y, #GivingTuesday builds on the American tradition of giving back but uses technology to give this greater impact. This commemoration does not seek to coordinate funds toward any particular nonprofit or to direct volunteers to support a specific cause. Instead, #GivingTuesday is intended to encourage Americans to reflect and give back. It’s a collective moment for individual and community action.

    #GivingTuesday has significant momentum. More than 7000 partners across all 50 states are taking part. This includes large corporations and small businesses, faith-based organizations and secular nonprofits. This year, cities are stepping forward to galvanize the movement.  They are celebrating local causes through unique campaigns like BMoreGivesMore in Baltimore; #GivingTuesdayBucks in Bucks County, PA; and #GivingTuesdayPHL in Philadelphia. In all these communities, nonprofits, businesses and government are collaborating to raise awareness and drive funds for those in need.

  • Ed. note: This event has concluded. Watch the full hangout below.

    As we prepare for Thanksgiving here at the White House, you’re invited to join me and a lineup of top food experts as we “talk turkey” and dive into our dinner plates to explore the science of cooking. We’ll be drilling down into the science behind what makes turkey so tasty, why we feel compelled to nap after eating it, and the secret science sauce behind brining and marinating.

    Please join us this Wednesday at 12pm ET for a We the Geeks on the Science of Cooking! The episode will air on in the run-up to President Obama’s annual turkey pardoning at the White House.

    Join Food Network Chef Anne Burrell, former NASA astronaut Ron Garan, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's Kumar Garg, and me as we discuss the raw science behind turkey, stuffing, and other fixins’ on our Thanksgiving tables like breads, whole grains, flour, and gluten. We’ll also shed light on the exciting chemistry behind cooking and eating: How much carbon dioxide do we consume when eat a meal? And what exactly is fermentation anyway?

    We'll also explore how cooking can be used to get more kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

    Got comments or questions? Ask them using the hashtag #WeTheGeeks on Twitter and on Google+ and we'll answer some of them during the live Hangout.

    We the Geeks" is a series of Google+ Hangouts to discuss science, technology, and innovation here in the United States. Join the conversation on Twitter and be sure to sign up for email updates about future "We the Geeks" hangouts.

    Bill Yosses is the White House Executive Pastry Chef

    (Editor's note: Check out the Public Service Announcement from Food Network Chef Anne Burrell and Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds on getting kids excited about STEM through cooking.)

  • You don't have to be a kid to be excited about this:

    The first ever White House Student Film Festival launches today — and it's open to U.S. students, grades K-12. We're asking you to answer these big questions:

    What’s your education story & how does technology and connectivity fit into how you learn at school or on your own? How do you imagine technology will change the educational experience for kids in the future?

    Films can be short – in fact 3 minutes tops. The official selections will be featured on the White House website, and shared across the world on White House sites and official social media accounts. In fact, if selected, you may have a chance to attend the film fest yourself at the White House.

    Ready to get started? Check out our official page at WhiteHouse.Gov/FilmFest -- where you can learn more, read the official rules, see how to submit your video, and hear from Bill Nye (the Science Guy). And if you're a parent, guardian, or teacher, make sure you spread the word to kids with big ideas!

    We can't wait to see what you make.

    Here are more important details you should know:

    --Every student entry has to have a parent/guardian or teacher sponsor.

    --Films can be submitted now through January 29th, 2014. 

    --If your video is selected as an official selection, you could have a chance to attend the mid-February screening at the White House.

    Read the complete rules (and submit your video!) at WhiteHouse.Gov/FilmFest


  • On Wednesday, November 27th, President Obama will pardon the 2013 National Thanksgiving Turkey and once again the American people will decide which bird takes the title.

    Turkeys have carved out a pivotal role in the holiday season at the White House since the 19th century, but last year, for the first time, the pardon winner was chosen through a competitive online vote. 

    Which of these two turkeys will be plucked from obscurity and awarded the title? Hatched on the same day on the farm of John Burkel near Badger, Minnesota, Caramel and Popcorn may have been raised together, but each has flown their own path. Caramel is a steady and deliberate bird that enjoys soybean meal and rocking out to Lady Gaga. When Popcorn is feeling peckish, he can't stop snacking on his namesake, corn, and has been known to strut around to Beyonce's "Halo". 

    People all across the country are flocking to cast a vote, so be sure to learn more about Caramel and Popcorn, listen to them croon their distinct gobble sounds and then tell us who you think should be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey! 

    Are you on #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn? Find out how you can vote on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at

    We'll count up the hashtags to make sure there's no fowl play. The deadline for voting is 8pm ET on Tuesday, November 26th.

    Don't forget to tune in to President Obama's remarks and the ceremony on Wednesday, November 27th on at 1:15 pm ET to find out which turkey has been selected as the 2013 National Thanksgiving Turkey. And for more on how this Presidential tradition came to be check out the definitive history of the Presidential Turkey Pardon.

    Note: It's all gravy -- no turkeys will be harmed during the selection of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.  After the pardoning, both turkeys travel to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens where they will be on display for visitors during "Christmas at Mount Vernon." The turkeys will then travel to their permanent home at Morven Park's Turkey Hill, the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmorland Davis in Leesburg, Virginia. Additionally, if for any reason one turkey is unable to perform the duties of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, his alternate will take his place during the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco, Calif

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    In the early 1900s, more than 300,000 people passed through California’s Angel Island on their way to a new life in America, many drawn by the belief that here, anything was possible.

    Today, just a few miles away at the Betty Ong Recreation Center in San Francisco’s Chinatown, President Obama said he is committed to fixing our broken immigration system to make sure we continue welcoming striving, hardworking immigrants who see America the same way many of our ancestors did when they came here generations ago -- as a country where no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try.

    “Too often when we talk about immigration, the debate focuses on our southern border,” President Obama said. But immigrants from all over the world have put down roots in every corner of the country. In San Francisco, where the economy is one of the fastest growing in the country, 35 percent of business owners are immigrants.

    “That’s the impact that our talented, hardworking immigrants can have," he said. “That’s the difference they can make. And that’s why it’s long past time to reform an immigration system that doesn’t serve America as well as it should – because we should be doing more to unleash that potential.”

    President Obama shared the story of Andrew Ly and his brothers, who emigrated from Vietnam by way of Malaysia. Once they arrived in San Francisco, they learned English and worked as handymen and seamstresses.

    Eventually, Andrew and his brothers earned enough money to buy a small bakery. And they started making donuts, and they started selling them to Chinese restaurants. And with a lot of hard work and a little luck, the Sugar Bowl Bakery today is a $60 million business. So these humble and striving immigrants from Vietnam now employ more than 300 Americans. They’re supplying pastries to Costco and Safeway, and almost every hotel and hospital in San Francisco. 

  • We are excited to announce our next White House Social event, an in-person meeting for people who engage with us on social media.

    Youth Summit

    On Wednesday, December 4, 2013 the White House will host a Youth Summit, offering young people from around the country an opportunity to discuss the Affordable Care Act and other issues with senior White House officials. White House Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ followers ages 18-35 are eligible to apply to attend this White House event on December 4.

    Interested in joining? Sign up for your chance to join other White House social media followers at the #WHYouth social. In order to apply you must follow an official White House TwitterFacebookGoogle+ or Instagram account. After you sign up, spread the word! Let your followers know that you applied to attend the #WHYouth social

    Sign-up to get email updates for Young Americans from the Office of Public Engagement.