Friday, December 27, 2013

West Wing Week 12/24/13 or, "The Holiday Card"



wh.gov: West Wing Week 12/24/13 or, "The Holiday Card"

This week, we will be celebrating the season by taking you behind the scenes as the White House is transformed into a yuletide masterpiece with the help of volunteers from across the country. We will also stop into a news conference the president held before he departed for the Hawaiian island of Oahu to have a Mele Kalikimaka with family and friends. That's December 20th to Christmas eve or the "Holiday Card Edition."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

African Americans Celebrate Kwanzaa



VOAVideo: African Americans Celebrate Kwanzaa

African-Americans as well as Africans throughout the world celebrate Kwanzaa. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa (Dec 26-Jan 1) is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:

  • Unity
  • Self-Determination
  • Collective Work and Responsibility
  • Cooperative Economics
  • Purpose
  • Creativity
  • Faith

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Washington Crossing the Delaware, Christmas Night 1776

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emmanuel Leutze, 1861
uscitizenpod: A brief history (and puzzle) of Washington Crossing the Delaware, Christmas Night 1776 (download pdf)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

USPS Christmas Stamps, FOREVER!


Also see: Arago:The Art of Christmas Stamps

USCIS 100:100. Name two national U.S. holidays.

▪ New Year’s Day
▪ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
▪ Presidents’ Day
▪ Memorial Day
▪ Independence Day
▪ Labor Day
▪ Columbus Day
▪ Veterans Day
▪ Thanksgiving
▪ Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013

US Ethnic Communities Celebrate Christmas



VOAVideo: US Ethnic Communities Celebrate Christmas

Christmas is a highlight for many immigrant communities in the United States who bring colorful traditions from their countries of origin. Mike O'Sullivan looks at the holiday celebrations of three ethnic communities in Los Angeles.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Michael Barone on World War II as a Unifying Experience for the US part 7 of 7




VOAVideo: Michael Barone on World War II as a Unifying Experience for the US

As the White House and Congress debate immigration reform in the United States, host Carol Castiel and reporter Reuben Sanon speak with historian and political analyst Michael Barone about his new book "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics." Barone explores how dramatic waves of immigration have sculpted the US political, economic and cultural landscape from pre-independence days to the present.

For update on Press Conference USA, and other VOA's programs, follow host Carol Castiel on Twitter: @CarolCastielVOA

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Michael Barone on Immigration and Politics Part 6 of 7



VOAVideo: Michael Barone on Immigration and Politics

As the White House and Congress debate immigration reform in the United States, host Carol Castiel and reporter Reuben Sanon speak with historian and political analyst Michael Barone about his new book "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics." Barone explores how dramatic waves of immigration have sculpted the US political, economic and cultural landscape from pre-independence days to the present.

For update on Press Conference USA, and other VOA's programs, follow host Carol Castiel on Twitter: @CarolCastielVOA

Friday, December 20, 2013

Michael Barone on the Irish and German Migrations Part 5 of 7



VOAVideo: Michael Barone on the Irish and German Migrations

As the White House and Congress debate immigration reform in the United States, host Carol Castiel and reporter Reuben Sanon speak with historian and political analyst Michael Barone about his new book "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics." Barone explores how dramatic waves of immigration have sculpted the US political, economic and cultural landscape from pre-independence days to the present.

For update on Press Conference USA, and other VOA's programs, follow host Carol Castiel on Twitter: @CarolCastielVOA

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Michael Barone on New Migration Patterns and Economy Part 4 of 7



VOAVideo: Michael Barone on New Migration Patterns and Economy

As the White House and Congress debate immigration reform in the United States, host Carol Castiel and reporter Reuben Sanon speak with historian and political analyst Michael Barone about his new book "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics." Barone explores how dramatic waves of immigration have sculpted the US political, economic and cultural landscape from pre-independence days to the present.

For update on Press Conference USA, and other VOA's programs, follow host Carol Castiel on Twitter: @CarolCastielVOA

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Michael Barone on Latin America Migration into US Part 3 of 7



VOAVideo: Michael Barone on Latin America Migration into US

As the White House and Congress debate immigration reform in the United States, host Carol Castiel and reporter Reuben Sanon speak with historian and political analyst Michael Barone about his new book "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics." Barone explores how dramatic waves of immigration have sculpted the US political, economic and cultural landscape from pre-independence days to the present.

For update on Press Conference USA, and other VOA's programs, follow host Carol Castiel on Twitter: @CarolCastielVOA

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Michael Barone on First Waves of Migrations in US part 2 of 7



VOAVideo: Michael Barone on First Waves of Migrations in US

As the White House and Congress debate immigration reform in the United States, host Carol Castiel and reporter Reuben Sanon speak with historian and political analyst Michael Barone about his new book "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics." Barone explores how dramatic waves of immigration have sculpted the US political, economic and cultural landscape from pre-independence days to the present.

For update on Press Conference USA, and other VOA's programs, follow host Carol Castiel on Twitter: @CarolCastielVOA

Monday, December 16, 2013

Michael Barone on the Evolution of the Democratic and Republican Parties Part 1 of 7



VOAVideo: Michael Barone on the Evolution of the Democratic and Republican Parties

As the White House and Congress debate immigration reform in the United States, host Carol Castiel and reporter Reuben Sanon speak with historian and political analyst Michael Barone about his new book "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and its Politics." Barone explores how dramatic waves of immigration have sculpted the US political, economic and cultural landscape from pre-independence days to the present.

For update on Press Conference USA, and other VOA's programs, follow host Carol Castiel on Twitter: @CarolCastielVOA

UScIS Naturalization Self-Test

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Practice your knowledge of U.S. history and government with these 4 different self-tests. This is 1 of 4 practice tests available for you to try.
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Practice your knowledge of U.S. history and government with these 4 different self-tests. This is 1 of 4 practice tests available for you to try.
laptop icon
Practice your knowledge of U.S. history and government with these 4 different self-tests. This is 1 of 4 practice tests available for you to try.
laptop icon
Practice your knowledge of U.S. history and government with these 4 different self-tests. This is 1 of 4 practice tests available for you to try.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holidays at the White House - Building the 2013 Gingerbread White House

USCIS 96:94. What is the White House?



wh.gov: Holidays at the White House - Building the 2013 Gingerbread White House

As part of White House holiday tradition, the State Dining Room is home to the famous gingerbread house. Over the course of several weeks, Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his talented team created a 300-pound, edible White House replica. This year's creation features a mini Bo and Sunny sitting on the front steps of the house lit from within, and a functioning replica of the North Lawn fountain.

old USCIS 96:94. What is the White House?

  • The President’s official home

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Flag of Honor

As a nation, we can’t stop every act of violence. We can’t heal every troubled mind. But if we want to live in a country where we can go to work, send our kids to school, and walk our streets free from fear, we have to keep trying. We have to keep caring. We have to treat every child like they’re our child. Like those in Sandy Hook, we must choose love. And together, we must make a change.
WH.gov: Weekly Address: Marking the One-Year Anniversary of the Tragic Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut  Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WH.gov: President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama Mark the One-Year Anniversary of the Sandy Hook Shooting

VOAVideo: US Passion for Guns Survives the Newtown School Shooting


Friday, December 13, 2013

West Wing Week 12/13/13 or, "Madiba, Farewell"



wh.gov: West Wing Week 12/13/13 or, "Madiba, Farewell"

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and far beyond. This week, the Vice President wrapped up a six-day, diplomatic mission to Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea, while the President spoke on achieving peace in the Middle East at the Saban Forum, honored and lit the National Christmas Tree, and traveled to Johannesburg to honor the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. That's December 6th to December 12th or "Madiba, Farewell."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quia Citizenship: Vocabulary Hangman!

Quia Citizenship: Vocabulary Hangman!

Try to guess these words from the USCIS Reading and Writing Vocabulary Word Lists. These words will be used during the Reading and Writing tests at your USCIS Citizenship Test. Try to guess all the correct letters before the little bear falls down!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day



For more info, visit Human Rights Action Center or

You just watched a video about the Universal declaration of Human Rights. 

USCIS 100:9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

▪ life
▪ liberty
▪ pursuit of happiness

Monday, December 9, 2013

Facing Modern Day Enslavement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a webinar on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to discuss the various relief options available to victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes.



VOAVideo: Facing Modern Day Enslavement

Human trafficking exists in almost every region around the globe - children, young women, even men - entrapped and forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of servitude, unable to escape. The best estimates indicate that 100,000 children and adults are trafficked within the U.S. every year. As VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports, though, a variety of activists have mobilized to fight it. Faith Lapidus narrates.

For more info, see USCIS: Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes

There are two types of immigration relief we provide to victims of human trafficking and other crimes:

T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa)
T nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of trafficking. The T Visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases.

U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa)
U nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. The U visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

Resources
USCIS offers resources for victims of human trafficking and other crimes and the organizations that serve them. This information is designed to help answer any questions you or your family might have about obtaining T or U Nonimmigrant status.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

USCIS 100:10. What is freedom of religion?



The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception located in Washington, D.C., honors Mary, the mother of Jesus, as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of the United States and celebrates the diversity of the American Catholicism. As a Roman Catholic, I am proud to share my religious and cultural heritage that informs my work as an ESL/Citizenship teacher. (take a virtual tour)

USCIS 100:10. What is freedom of religion?

▪ You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

US Observes Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

USCIS 100:81. Who did the United States fight in World War II?


VOANews: US Remembers Pearl Harbor, 70 Years Later

Hundreds estimated to be gathered at Pearl Harbor, where new visitor's center is to open at scene of attack (plus streaming audio)

VOANews: Pearl Harbor Fact Box

USCIS 100:81. Who did the United States fight in World War II?
  • Japan, Germany, and Italy

Friday, December 6, 2013

West Wing Week 12/06/13 or, "Olde English"



wh.gov: West Wing Week 12/06/13 or, "Olde English"

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President spoke on the importance of addressing economic mobility and supporting implementation of the Affordable Care Act, visited fasting immigration reform activists, marked World AIDS Day, celebrated Hanukkah, and visited a local bookstore for Small Business Saturday. That's November 29th to December 5th or, "Olde English."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mandela Through His Own Words



VOAVideo: Mandela Through His Own Words

Inaugural Speech, Pretoria [Nelson Mandela]- 5/10/94

Subject: Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech - Pretoria May 10 From: ancdip@WN.APC.ORG (tim jenkin) Date: Wed, 11 May 1994 13:37:00 -0400
STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS,NELSON MANDELA, AT HIS INAUGURATION AS PRESIDENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, UNION BUILDINGS, PRETORIA, MAY 10 1994

Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and Friends:

Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world,confer glory and hope to newborn liberty.

Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.

Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.

All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today.

To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld.

Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal. The national mood changes as the seasons change.

We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.

That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression.

We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.

We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.

We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity, non-sexism,non-racialism and democracy.

We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass democratic, religious, women, youth,business, traditional and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is my Second Deputy President, the Honourable F.W. de Klerk.

We would also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the distinguished role they have played in securing our first democratic elections and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which still refuse to see the light.

The time for the healing of the wounds has come.

The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

The time to build is upon us.

We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.

We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.

We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. 
We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

As a token of its commitment to the renewal of our country,the new Interim Government of National Unity will, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for various categories of our people who are currently serving terms of imprisonment.

We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free.

Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.

We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.

We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all.

Let there be peace for all.


Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.


Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.


Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign.


The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!


God bless Africa!


Thank you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Capitol Dome's 150th anniversary



60 Minutes: The Capitol Dome's 150th anniversary

It's hard to imagine America without the Capitol Dome, but when you hear how it was created it becomes hard to imagine it exists at all. Scott Pelley reports.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient - Arturo Sandoval



wh.gov: Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient - Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval is a celebrated jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer. Born outside Havana, he became a protégé of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and gained international acclaim as a dynamic performer. He defected to the United States in 1990 and later became an American citizen. He has been awarded nine Grammy Awards and is widely considered one of the greatest living jazz artists. (read more)

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Star Spangled Banner Presented by the United States Air Force Band



ListenAndReadAlong: The Star Spangled Banner Presented by the United States Air Force Band

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Information presented on the United States Air Force Band site is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.

This media file is a work of a U.S. Department of Defense employee, made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the media file is in the public domain.

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office.

This Composition is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 are now in the public domain.

This composition is also in the public domain in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris) in this case Francis Scott Key (August 1, 1779--January 11, 1843) and John Stafford Smith (March 30, 1750 -- September 21, 1836), and that most commonly runs for a period of 50 to 70 years from December 31 of that date.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Activists Fast for Immigration Reform



VOAVideo: Activists Fast for Immigration Reform

A group of activists has been fasting in Washington for more than two weeks to pressure Speaker of the House John Boehner to allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform. As VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports, those who are fasting have captured the attention of some members of Congress and of President Obama.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform



wh.gov: President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform

President Obama says it's long past time to fix our broken immigration system. November 25, 2013.

Remarks by the President on Immigration Reform -- San Francisco, CA

Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center
San Francisco, California

11:55 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Well, hello, San Francisco! (Applause.) It is great to be back in California. It is great to be with all of you. I love San Francisco. (Applause.) You got great food. You got great people, beautiful scenery -- no more super villains because Batkid cleaned up the streets. (Applause.) Love Batkid. (Laughter.)

I want to start by thanking Geetha for the wonderful introduction and the great work that she’s doing. Give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to thank your Mayor, Ed Lee. (Applause.) Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. (Applause.) I want to recognize some wonderful members of Congress who are fighting every day for the people of California -- Mike Honda -- (applause) -- Eric Swalwell, Judy Chu. They are all doing great work every single day. (Applause.)

We have a special guest, Janet Napolitano, who is now overseeing the entire UC system and going to be doing a great job. (Applause.) We miss her back in Washington, but she is going to be outstanding leading the University of California.

Now, before I begin, I want to say a few words about the news from the weekend. I'm here to talk about immigration reform, but I'm also here in my capacity as Commander-in-Chief, and this weekend, together with our allies and our partners, the United States reached an agreement with Iran -- (applause) -- on a first step towards resolving our concerns over its nuclear program.

Now, some of you may recall that when I first ran for President, I said it was time for a new era of American leadership in the world -- one that turned the page on a decade of war, and began a new era of our engagement with the world. And as President and as Commander-in-Chief, I’ve done what I said. We ended the war in Iraq; we brought our troops home. Osama bin Laden met justice; the war in Afghanistan will end next year.

And as the strongest, most powerful nation on the face of the Earth, we’ve engaged in clear-eyed and principled diplomacy -- even with our adversaries -- in order to begin to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and to place the first real constraints in a decade on Iran’s nuclear program. Because I firmly believe in what President Kennedy once said: He said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” I believe that. And this diplomacy, backed by the unprecedented sanctions we brought on Iran, has brought us the progress that was achieved this weekend.

For the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress on Iran’s nuclear program. Key parts of the program will be rolled back. (Applause.) International inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear-related facilities. So this will help Iran from building a nuclear weapon. And over the coming months, we’re going to continue our diplomacy, with the goal of achieving a comprehensive solution that deals with the threat of Iran’s nuclear program once and for all.

And if Iran seizes this opportunity and chooses to join the global community, then we can begin to chip away at the mistrust that’s existed for many, many years between our two nations.

None of that is going to be easy. Huge challenges remain. But we cannot close the door on diplomacy. And we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict. And tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security. It is not the right thing for our security. (Applause.)

Now, this progress, and the potential it offers, reminds us of what is possible when the United States has the courage to lead -- not just with the force of arms, but with the strength of our diplomacy and our commitment to peace. That’s what keeps us strong. That’s what makes us a beacon to the world. That’s how I’ll continue to lead so long as I’m President of the United States.

And that spirit -- not just what we can criticize or tear down or be against, but what we can build together -- that’s what brings me here today. Because it’s long past time to fix our broken immigration system. (Applause.) We need to make sure Washington finishes what so many Americans just like you started. We’ve got to finish the job.

And it’s fitting that we’re here in Chinatown, just a few miles away from Angel Island. In the early 1900s, about 300,000 people -- maybe some of your ancestors -- passed through on their way to a new life in America. And for many, it represented the end of a long and arduous journey -- they’d finally arrived in a place where they believed anything was possible.

And for some, it also represented the beginning of a new struggle against prejudice in a country that didn’t always treat its immigrants fairly or afford them the same rights as everybody else. Obviously, Asians faced this, but so did the Irish; so did Italians; so did Jews; and many groups still do today.

That didn’t stop those brave men and women from coming. They were drawn by a belief in the power of opportunity; in a belief that says, maybe I never had a chance at a good education, but this is a place where my daughter can go to college. Maybe I started out washing dishes, but this is a place where my son can become mayor of San Francisco. (Applause.) Maybe I have to make sacrifices today, but those sacrifices are worth it if it means a better life for my family.

And that’s a family story that will be shared by millions of Americans around the table on Thursday. It’s the story that drew my great-great-great-great-grandfather from a small village in Ireland, and drew my father from a small village in Kenya. It’s the story that drew so many of your ancestors here -- that America is a place where you can make it if you try.

And here’s something interesting: Today, more than one in four residents born outside the United States came here from Asian countries -- many through our family immigration system. They’re doctors and business owners, laborers, refugees. This rec center’s namesake, Betty Ong, was a hero on 9/11. (Applause.) But she was also the daughter of immigrants who grew up not far from here. And we’re honored to have her family with us here today. (Applause.)

But too often when we talk about immigration, the debate focuses on our southern border. The fact is we’re blessed with immigrants from all over the world who’ve put down roots in every corner of this country. Here in San Francisco, 35 percent of business owners are immigrants -- and your economy is among the fastest growing in the country. That’s not an accident. That’s the impact that our talented, hardworking immigrants can have. That’s the difference they can make. They’re hungry and they’re striving and they’re working hard and they’re creating things that weren’t there before.

And that’s why it is long past time to reform an immigration system that right now doesn’t serve America as well as it should. We could be doing so much more to unleash our potential if we just fix this aspect of our system.

And I know out here in California that you watch the news and you share the country’s not very sunny view of Washington these days. For the last few months, you’ve seen a lot of headlines about gridlock and partisan bickering, and too often one faction of one party in one house of Congress has chosen courses of action that ended up harming our businesses, or our economy, or our workers. Or they want to refight old political battles rather than create jobs and grow the economy and strengthen the middle class, or take 40 more votes to undermine or repeal the Affordable Care Act -- (laughter) -- instead of passing a single serious jobs bill, despite the fact that Americans want us to focus on jobs and business and growth. And, by the way, thousands of Californians are signing up every day for new health care plans all across this state. (Applause.)

So even as we’re getting this darn website up to speed -- (laughter) -- and it's getting better -- states like California are proving the law works. People want the financial security of health insurance.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thanks to you!

THE PRESIDENT: And even if you’re already insured, reach out to a friend or neighbor who’s not and help them get covered.

But when it comes to immigration reform, we have to have the confidence to believe we can get this done. And we should get it done. And, by the way, most Americans agree. The only thing standing in our way right now is the unwillingness of certain Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.
I met the other day with the CEOs of some of America's biggest companies. And I'm positive not all of them voted for me. (Laughter.) I'm pretty sure. (Laughter.) Maybe some of them, but definitely not all of them. But the thing they wanted to talk about, their top priority was the fact that we invite the brightest minds from around the world to study here -- many of them enrolled in the University of California system -- and then we don't invite them to stay. We end up sending them home to create new jobs and start new businesses someplace else. So we're training our own competition, rather than invite those incredibly talented young people, like Geetha, to stay here and start businesses and create jobs here.

I hear from folks who’ve been separated from their families for years because of green card backlogs who desperately want their loved ones to be able to join them here in America. I hear from young DREAMers who are Americans through and through in every way but on paper, and they just want a chance to study and serve and contribute to the nation that they love. (Applause.)

I talk to business owners who play by the rules, but get frustrated because they end up being undercut by those who exploit workers in a shadow economy -- aren't getting paid overtime, aren't required to meet the same obligations. And so those companies end up losing out on business.

Right now, I'm seeing brave advocates who have been fasting for two weeks in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing themselves in an effort to get Congress to act. And I want to say to Eliseo Medina, my friend from SEIU, and the other fasters who are there as we speak, I want them to know we hear you. We're with you. The whole country hears you.

And there are plenty of leaders –- Democrat and Republican –- who don’t think it’s fair that we’ve got 11 million people in this country, including more than a million from Asia, with no real way to come forward and get on the right side of the law. It’s not smart. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. And we have kicked this particular can down the road long enough. Everybody knows it.

Now, the good news is we know what the solutions are. There is bipartisan hope of getting it done. This year, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority, and it addresses the key issues that need to be addressed. It would strengthen our borders. It would level the playing field by holding employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. It would modernize our legal immigration system so that we eliminate the backlog of family visas and make it easier to attract highly skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders. It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are living in the shadows –- a path that includes passing a background check, and learning English, and paying taxes and a penalty, and getting in line behind everyone trying to come here the right way.

And each of these pieces would go a long way towards fixing our broken immigration system. Each of them has been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past. There’s no reason we can’t come together and get it done.

And what's more, we know the immigration reform that we're proposing would boost our economy and shrink our deficits. Independent economists have said that if the Senate bill became law, over the next two decades, our economy would grow by $1.4 trillion more, and it would reduce our deficits by $850 billion more.

And you don’t have to be an economist to figure out that workers will be more productive if they’ve got their families here with them, they're not worried about deportation, they're not living halfway around the world. This isn’t just the right thing to do -– it’s the smart thing to do.

Of course, just because something is smart, fair, good for the economy, and supported by business, labor, law enforcement and faith leaders -- (laughter) -- Democratic and Republican governors, including the Governor of this state –- just because all that is in place doesn’t mean we'll actually get it done, because this is Washington, after all, that we’re talking about and everything is looked through a political prism. And, look, let's be honest, some folks automatically think, well, if Obama’s for it, then I've got to be against it even if I was, before that, I was for it.

But I want to remind everybody, to his great credit, my Republican predecessor, President Bush, was for reform. He proposed reform like this almost a decade ago. I was in the Senate. I joined 23 Senate Republicans back then supporting reform. It's worth remembering that the Senate bill that just passed won more than a dozen Republican votes this past summer. And some of them even forget that I'm -- sometimes people forget I'm not running for office again. Michelle doesn’t forget. (Laughter and applause.) So you don’t have to worry about this somehow being good for me. This is good for the country. It's the right thing to do for the American people.

And I believe, ultimately -- not always in the short term -- but ultimately, good policy is good politics. Look at the polls right now, because the American people support immigration reform by a clear majority. Everybody wins if we get this done. So there's no reason we shouldn’t get immigration reform done right now. None. If there is a good reason I haven't heard it.

And, by the way, if there's a better plan out there than the one that Democrats and Republicans have already advanced together, if there are additional ideas that would make it even better, I’m always willing to listen to new ideas. My door is always open. But right now it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide if we can move forward as a country on this bill. If they don’t want to see it happen, they’ve got to explain why.

The good news is, just this past week Speaker Boehner said that he is “hopeful we can make progress” on immigration reform. And that is good news. I believe the Speaker is sincere. I think he genuinely wants to get it done. And that’s something we should be thankful for this week. And I think there are a number of other House Republicans who also want to get this done. Some of them are hesitant to do it in one big bill, like the Senate did. That’s okay. They can -- it’s Thanksgiving; we can carve that bird into multiple pieces. (Laughter.) A drumstick here -- (laughter) -- breast meat there. But as long as all the pieces get done -- soon -- and we actually deliver on the core values we’ve been talking about for so long, I think everybody is fine with it. They're not worried about the procedures. They just want the result.

But it’s going to require some courage. There are some members of the Republican caucus who think this is bad politics for them back home. And they're free to vote their conscience, but what I’ve said to the Speaker and others is, don't let a minority of folks block something that the country desperately needs. And we can’t leave this problem for another generation to solve. If we don’t tackle this now, then we’re undercutting our own future.

So my message to Congress is rather than create problems, let’s prove Washington can get something done. This is something that has broad-based support. We’ve been working on it for a decade now. This reform comes as close as we’ve gotten to something that will benefit everybody, now and for decades to come. And it has the potential to enrich this country in ways that we can’t even imagine.

And I’ll just give you one example to wrap up. Andrew Ly is here today. Where’s Andrew? He’s around here somewhere. There he is. Now, Andrew has got an amazing story. Andrew grew up in Vietnam, and he and his four brothers tried three times to flee to the United States. Obviously, the country was going through all kinds of difficulties. So three times, they tried; three times, they failed. On the fourth try, their boat –- filled with 140 refugees -- is that right, Andrew -– was attacked by pirates.

But the Lys and their family eventually made it to Malaysia, and then they eventually made it here to San Francisco. And they learned English, and they worked as handymen, and they worked as seamstresses. And 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. (Applause.)

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. And I don't know if Andrew brought me any samples, but -- (laughter) -- they must be pretty good. (Laughter.)

And Andrew says, “We came here as boat people, so we don’t take things for granted. We know this is the best country in the world if you work hard.” That’s what America is about. This is the place where you can reach for something better if you work hard. This is the country our parents and our grandparents and waves of immigrants before them built for us. And it falls on each new generation to keep it that way. The Statue of Liberty doesn’t have its back to the world. The Statue of Liberty faces the world and raises its light to the world.

When Chinese immigrants came to this city in search of “Gold Mountain,” they weren’t looking just for physical riches. They were looking for freedom and opportunity. They knew that what makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are -- because we look like the world. You got a President named Obama. (Laughter and applause.) What makes us American is our shared belief in certain enduring principles, our allegiance to a set of ideals, to a creed, to the enduring promise of this country.

And our shared responsibility is to leave this country more generous, more hopeful than we found it. And if we stay true to that history -- if we get immigration reform across the finish line -- and it is there just within our grasp, if we can just get folks in Washington to go ahead and do what needs to be done -- we’re going to grow our economy; we’re going to make our country more secure; we’ll strengthen our families; and most importantly, we will live --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mr. Obama --

THE PRESIDENT: -- most importantly, we will live up --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: -- my family has been separated for 19 months now --

THE PRESIDENT: -- most importantly, we will live up to our character as a nation.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’ve not seen my family. Our families are separated. I need your help. There are thousands of people --

THE PRESDIENT: That’s exactly what we’re talking about.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: -- are torn apart every single day.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s why we’re here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now.

THE PRESIDENT: What we’re trying --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Do you agree

AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: -- that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform at the same time we -- you have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country.
THE PRESIDENT: Actually I don’t. And that’s why we’re here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So, please, I need your help.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Stop deportations!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Stop deportations!

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. All right.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Stop deportations! Stop deportations!

THE PRESIDENT: What I’d like to do -- no, no, don’t worry about it, guys. Okay, let me finish.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Stop deportations! Yes, we can! Stop deportations!

THE PRESIDENT: These guys don’t need to go. Let me finish. No, no, no, he can stay there. Hold on a second. (Applause.) Hold on a second.

So I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families. Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as President of the United States and I come to this community, is that if, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so.

But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done. (Applause.)

So for those of you who are committed to getting this done, I am going to march with you and fight with you every step of the way to make sure that we are welcoming every striving, hardworking immigrant who sees America the same way we do -- 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.

And if you’re serious about making that happen, then I’m ready to work with you. (Applause.) But it is going to require work. It is not simply a matter of us just saying we’re going to violate the law. That’s not our tradition. The great thing about this country is we have this wonderful process of democracy, and sometimes it is messy, and sometimes it is hard, but ultimately, justice and truth win out. That’s always been the case in this country; that’s going to continue to be the case today. (Applause.)

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

West Wing Week 11/29/13 or, "Kindness Covers All of My Political Beliefs"



wh.gov: West Wing Week 11/29/13 or, "Kindness Covers All of My Political Beliefs"

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."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Citizenship Interview from USCitizenPod

Citizenship students hosted the Thanksgiving Party at Milpitas Adult School
--I am so thankful for my students and fellow teachers!
Happy Thanksgiving from US Citizenship Podcast! Practice the N-400 Citizenship Interview while learning more about the Native Americans, the first European colonists, the Pilgrims, and African slaves.

Thanksgiving Citizenship Interview from USCitizenPod pdf

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

President Obama Pardons White House Turkey



wh.gov: President Obama Pardons White House Turkey

The President grants the traditional Thanksgiving pardon to Popcorn, this years Official White House Turkey, in a ceremony on the North Portico of the White House. November 27, 2013.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Podcast

**I am currently working on a new quiz for Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, checkout this podcast that the Milpitas Adult School staff recorded in Nov. 2007. We use both the old USCIS 96 questions and the current USCIS 100 questions



Thanksgiving! (posted Nov 2007)

Today we will review the 96Qs (50, 53, 68, 69, 70) and the new 100Q (10, 58, 59, 87, 100) related to Thanksgiving.  Note the difference between the old and new sets of USCIS questions.

Handouts:
  1. Thanksgiving mp3
  2. Q50 and 53 Class Handout
  3. Q68-70 Class Handout
  4. Thanksgiving Quiz: USCIS 96Qs and new 100Qs
  5. Thanksgiving Quiz Answers (Qs with answers--perfect for practice)
  6. Thanksgiving Cloze Essay
Dictation:
  1. All people want to be free.
  2. Many people come to America for freedom.
There are many links listed on the handouts. Of special interest are
  1. ELCivics.com: Thanksgiving
  2. ELCivics.com: The 13 Original Colonies
  3. ELCivics.com: American Indian Tribes
  4. TimePage: 13 Original Colonies Time Line
Not on the handouts, but still good practice:
  1. Thanksgiving Quiz 1 - Thanksgiving in the USA (Charles Kelly) 35 medium to difficult multiple-choice questions
  2. Thanksgiving Quiz 2 - The First Thanksgiving in America (Charles Kelly) 30 medium to difficult multiple-choice questions
  3. Thanksgiving Quiz 3 - How Thanksgiving Becomes a National Holiday in the USA (Charles Kelly) 10 medium to difficult multiple-choice questions