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Your White House Immigration Action Newsletter!
Friends, It has been an exciting few weeks for immigration, and we’re just getting started. From the President’s speech in Las Vegas to Congressional Hearings to the State of the Union, immigration issues are in the spotlight and commonsense immigration reform is on its way. DREAMers and immigrants that could benefit from reform attended the State of the Union as honored guests of members of Congress, and even testified in a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing the next day. Alan Aleman, a DREAMer from Las Vegas, Nevada and naturalized citizens sat in the First Lady’s State of the Union viewing box, and the President reiterated his support for the bipartisan efforts underway in Congress to put forward legislation that will fix our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules. Change is coming, and we are happy to report on the tremendous progress we are making.
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) As you all heard, the President reiterated his call on Congress to build an immigration system for the 21st century that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants while meeting our economic and security needs: "Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. And right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, faith
communities -- they all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to get it done. Now is the time to get it done. [. . . W]e know what needs to be done. And as we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. So let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away. And America will be better for it. Let’s get it done. Let’s get it done.” You can view and read the transcript of the President’s full State of the Union Address here. Following the President’s Address, a panel of White House senior advisors, including Senior Policy Director for Immigration Felicia Escobar, answered questions submitted via Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and a live audience. You can watch the video here. The day after his State of the Union Speech, President Obama met with the four Democratic members of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” who have been working on a bipartisan reform legislation. The President thanked the Senators for their work to date and told them that while he was pleased with the progress, he expects the process to continue to move forward and stands ready to introduce his own legislation if Congress fails to act. For a full readout of the President’s meeting on commonsense immigration reform, click here. Earlier this week, the President placed calls to Senator Graham, Senator McCain, and Senator Rubio to discuss their shared commitment to bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform and to commend the Senators for the bipartisan progress that continues to be made by the Gang of 8 on this important issue. For a full readout of the President’s call to Senate Republicans, clinck here. Last Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on comprehensive immigration reform – a follow-up to the House Judiciary hearing held the week before. The Senate hearing featured a panel of experts as well as testimony from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who emphasized the progress made in border security and the need for commonsense immigration reform. You can read Secretary Napolitano’s full testimony here (pdf). On Thursday, February 14th, President Obama hosted a Fireside Hangout on Google+ to discuss his immigration reform policies with citizens directly. The next day, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Muñoz followed up the President’s session with a white House Live "Open for Questions" twitter chat on the State of the Union and Immigration Reform. In case you missed it, check out the video.
Last Friday, President Obama presented the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal – the highest honor civilians can receive in the United States – to a select group of twelve individuals and in the memory of the six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This group of elite citizens included two immigrants: Colombian-born Maria Gomez, who works to provide access to health care, and Cameroonian-born Patience A. Lehrman, who specializes in immigrant and refugee issues. Learn more about the 2012 Citizens Medal recipients or watch the President’s full remarks from the ceremony here. As always, please share with your networks and we look forward to working with you as we continue to push for commonsense immigration reform! Julie Chávez Rodriguez Associate Director White House | Office of Public Engagement
I-601A Provisional Waiver will become Effective on March 4 Reminder: Applicants may begin filing Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, on March 4, 2013. USICS will hold a joint stakeholder calls with the Department of State on February 28, 2013 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST. To join the call, use this toll free call-in number: 1-800-369-2065 and the Passcode “Provisional.” Information on eligibility and how to apply is available at: USCIS.gov/provisionalwaiver. USCIS to Welcome More Than 19,000 New Citizens February 15-22, 2013 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will recognize Presidents Day, welcoming more than 19,000 people as U.S. citizens during 135 naturalization ceremonies across the country Feb. 15 through Feb. 22. The celebration of citizenship will culminate Feb. 22, the birthday of the first U.S. president, George Washington, with a ceremony at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens in Mount Vernon, Va. Please visit the USCIS.gov website for a full list of President's Day Special Naturalization Ceremonies. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) USCIS released the latest data on requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The agency report includes information on intake and approvals as well as a breakdown of the top 10 countries of origin and states of residence. To view the latest report, click here.
Securing our Nation’s Borders Last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Texas and California to inspect border security operations at the Southwest border, meet with state and local stakeholders, and discuss the Department’s on-going efforts to secure the border while facilitating lawful travel and trade. She also met with law enforcement leaders from across the country to discuss the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Read Secretary Napolitano’s account of her travels and meetings as DHS looks ahead to advance reforms to maintain safe and security communities.
Know a hero? The Citizens Medal is one of our nation’s highest civilian honors. For the past two years, President Obama has relied on you to identify heroes in your community – extraordinary Americans whose exemplary deeds provide inspiration for others to serve. Last year you nominated over 6,000 outstanding individuals who work hard each day to make their community and their country a better place. Now we need your help again. We're looking for Americans who have made a difference in
their communities but who may not have received national attention. Does that sound like someone you know? These are everyday Americans making a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens. And I'm pretty sure you know someone like them. Nominate the hero in your community today.
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