Wednesday, October 30, 2013

USCIS Launches Redesigned USCIS.GOV Website

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the launch of the agency’s redesigned website available in both English and Spanish. The redesigned website provides customers with a simplified and more user-friendly experience. (read more)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Doubts Over 2013 Immigration Reform

VOAVideo: Doubts Over 2013 Immigration Reform

President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives are pushing the Republican majority to allow a vote on reforming the U.S. immigration system, but congressional aides and political experts say the Republican Party is still divided over immigration, and the House is not likely to tackle the issue any time soon. VOA's Cindy Saine reports.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

West Wing Week 10/25/13 or, "Saving Money as We Speak"

This week, the President announced his nominee for the next secretary of Homeland Security, spoke on the Affordable Care Act and Immigration Reform, and welcomed the Prime Minister of Pakistan and this year's Sammy Award winners to the White House. That's October 18th to October 24th or, "Saving Money as We Speak."

Friday, October 25, 2013

President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform

wh. gov: President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform

President Obama says that we should pass immigration reform that's good for our economic and national security, and we should do it this year. October 24, 2013.

Remarks by the President on Immigration Reform

East Room

10:47 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please have a seat, everybody. Good morning, and welcome to the White House. Today I’m here with leaders from business, from labor, from faith communities who are united around one goal -- finishing the job of fixing a broken immigration system.

This is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose time has been around for years now. Leaders like all of you have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for years to try to get this done. And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done.

Now, it’s no secret that the American people haven’t seen much out of Washington that they like these days. The shutdown and the threat of the first default in more than 200 years inflicted real pain on our businesses and on families across the country. And it was a completely unnecessary, self-inflicted wound with real costs to real people, and it can never happen again.

Even with the shutdown over, and the threat of default eliminated, Democrats and Republicans still have some really big disagreements -- there are some just fundamentally different views about how we should move forward on certain issues. On the other hand, as I said the day after the shutdown ended, that's no reason that we shouldn’t be able to work together on the things that we do agree on.

We should be able to work together on a responsible budget that invests in the things that we need to grow our economy and create jobs even while we maintain fiscal discipline. We should be able to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities grow and protects vulnerable Americans in hard times.

And we should pass immigration reform. (Applause.) We should pass immigration reform. It’s good for our economy. It’s good for our national security. It’s good for our people. And we should do it this year.

Everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken. Across the political spectrum, people understand that. We’ve known it for years. It’s not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from around the world to study here and then not let them start businesses here -- we send them back to their home countries to start businesses and create jobs and invent new products someplace else.

It’s not fair to businesses and middle-class families who play by the rules when we allow companies that are trying to undercut the rules work in the shadow economy, to hire folks at lower wages or no benefits, no overtime, so that somehow they get a competitive edge from breaking the rules. That doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead. It’s not smart. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long.

Now, the good news is, this year the Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority that addressed all of these issues. It’s a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders. It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.

It would modernize our legal immigration system, so that even as we train American workers for the jobs of the future, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders to join with us to create jobs here in the United States.

It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are here illegally -- one that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone who is trying to come here the right way.

So it had all the component parts. It didn't have everything that I wanted; it didn't have everything that anybody wanted; but it addressed the core challenges of how we create a immigration system that is fair, that’s just, that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And that's passed the Senate by a bipartisan majority. (Applause.)

So here's what we also know -- that the bill would grow the economy and shrink our deficits. Independent economists have shown that if the Senate bill became law, over the next two decades our economy would grow by $1.4 trillion more than it would if we don't pass the law. It would reduce our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars.

So this isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. Securing our borders; modernizing our legal immigration system; providing a pathway to earned, legalized citizenship; growing our economy; strengthening our middle class; reducing our deficits -- that’s what common-sense immigration reform will do.

Now, obviously, just because something is smart and fair, and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor -- (laughter) -- and the evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done. (Laughter.) This is Washington, after all.

So everything tends to be viewed through a political prism and everybody has been looking at the politics of this. And I know that there are some folks in this town who are primed to think, “Well, if Obama is for it, then I’m against it.” But I’d remind everybody that my Republican predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago, and I joined with 23 Senate Republicans back then to support that reform. I’d remind you that this reform won more than a dozen Republican votes in the Senate in June.

I’m not running for office again. I just believe this is the right thing to do. (Applause.) I just believe this is the right thing to do. And I also believe that good policy is good politics in this instance. And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this. It’s not something they reject -- they support it. Everybody wins here if we work together to get this done. In fact, if there’s a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven’t heard it.

So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why. A clear majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.

Now, how do we move forward? Democratic leaders have introduced a bill in the House that is similar to the bipartisan Senate bill. So now it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not.

I do know -- and this is good news -- that many of them agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system across these areas that we’ve just discussed. And what I’ve said to them, and I’ll repeat today, is if House Republicans have new and different, additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we want to hear them. I’ll be listening. I know that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, those who voted for immigration reform already, are eager to hear those additional ideas. But what we can’t do is just sweep the problem under the rug one more time, leave it for somebody else to solve sometime in the future.

Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems. This reform comes as close to anything we’ve got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far into the future. So let’s see if we can get this done. And let’s see if we can get it done this year. (Applause.)

We’ve got the time to do it. Republicans in the House, including the Speaker, have said we should act. So let’s not wait. It doesn’t get easier to just put it off. Let’s do it now. Let’s not delay. Let’s get this done, and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.

To those of you who are here today, I want to just say one last thing and that is -- thank you. I want to thank you for your persistence. I want to thank you for your activism. I want to thank you for your passion and your heart when it comes to this issue. And I want to tell you, you’ve got to keep it up. Keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done. There are going to be moments -- and there are always moments like this in big efforts at reform -- where you meet resistance, and the press will declare something dead, it’s not going to happen, but that can be overcome.

And I have to say, Joe, as I look out at this room, these don’t look like people who are easily deterred. (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t think so.

THE PRESIDENT: They don’t look like folks who are going to give up. (Applause.) You look fired up to make the next push. And whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, I want you to keep working, and I’m going to be right next to you, to make sure we get immigration reform done. It is time. Let’s go get it done.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

10:59 A.M. EDT

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ESL Podcast 925 – Going Through Customs is a great resource to listen to English conversation. 
 Check out their citizenship course: Introduction to the United States

ESL Podcast 925 – Going Through Customs 

If you’re thinking of flying into Los Angeles and bringing in a couple of bees, think again. Find out about going through customs in this episode. 
Download Podcast 

uscitizenpod: N-400 Part 7 Time Outside of the US 

1. Have you taken any trips outside the US? 

2. How many total days did you spend outside of the US during the past five years? 

3. How many trips have you taken outside of the US during the past five years? 

4. When did you leave?

5. When did you return?

6. Where did you go?

7. Why did you go?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

EL Civics:Washington DC Tour for ESL Citizenship

Happy Birthday, Christine Niven, web guru of EL!

ESL Civics Lessons: EL Civics:Washington DC Tour for ESL Citizenship

Washington D.C. tour with pictures and simple caption. Great for citizenship and ESL students.

  • USCIS 100:94. What is the capital of the United States?*
    • Washington, D.C.

Check out EL, the premier literacy site to learn ESL, EL Civics, and Citizenship with pictures and easy words.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Stamps Honor Intrepid World War II Medal of Honor Recipients

USPSStamps: New Stamps Honor Intrepid World War II Medal of Honor Recipients

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for valor in combat. This year on Veteran’s Day, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing a new stamp highlighting this award and the very special men who received it for their service during the Second World War, titled Medal of Honor: World War II. (read more)

USPS 100:78. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.*

▪ World War I
▪ World War II
▪ Korean War
▪ Vietnam War
▪ (Persian) Gulf War

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What the Gov't Shutdown Tells Us About US Politics (VOA On Assignment Oct. 18)

VOAVideo: What the Gov't Shutdown Tells Us About US Politics (VOA On Assignment Oct. 18)

VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone talks to On Assignment's Imran Siddiqui about the U.S. budget battle that triggered a partial shutdown of the government. Although the shutdown is now over, Jim says U.S. lawmakers' partisan divide is likely to continue.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

New U.S. Citizen Ken Dancyger: Born a Survivor

USCIS Blog: New U.S. Citizen Ken Dancyger: Born a Survivor

“In my life, this was the first time I was making an active choice (of where to live),” Ken Dancyger said of his and his wife’s decision to be in the United States. Dancyger is one of the United States’ newest citizens. His life story also symbolizes American hopefulness. (read more in English, leer en Espanol)

Friday, October 18, 2013

West Wing Week 10/18/13 or, "The Shutdown Edition: The End" West Wing Week 10/18/13 or, "The Shutdown Edition: The End"

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the government shutdown came to an end, and the nation averted default. That's October 11th to October 17th or "The Shutdown Edition: The End"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oath of Allegiance - Constitution Week 2013

USCIS: Oath of Allegiance - Constitution Week 2013

"I hereby declare, on oath,
that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure
all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty,
of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;
that I will support and defend
the Constitution and laws of the United States of America
against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;
that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States
when required by the law;
that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction
when required by the law;
and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; '
so help me God."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Citizenship Day Naturalization Ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

USCIS: Citizenship Day Naturalization Ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Join us in welcoming 25 new U.S. citizens during a special Constitution Day and Citizenship Day naturalization ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Rand Beers will administer the Oath of Allegiance. USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas will present the candidates for citizenship and Danielle Gray, Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to the President, will provide remarks. Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will give the keynote speech.

While you watch the ceremony we encourage you to express your thoughts and congratulations with your fellow Americans by following us on Twitter @USCIS and using #newUScitizen.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Native Americans, Columbus Day, and the Columbian Exchange

Columbus Day is a US federal holiday that is celebrated on the second Monday of October.

Columbus Day remembers Christopher Columbus' arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492.

The Columbian Exchange was a widespread exchange of crops and animals between the people of the Old World and the New World.

Download Native American Tribes Puzzle

Download Columbus Day and the Columbian Exchange Puzzle

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Refugees Waiting Overseas Are in Limbo as U.S. Shutdown Continues

VOA Video: Refugees Waiting Overseas Are in Limbo as U.S. Shutdown Continues

The U.S. government shutdown has temporarily frozen resettlement of refugees in some parts of the United States. Dozens from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East who hoped to arrive in the Midwest state of Missouri in October are in limbo abroad. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from St. Louis, family members anxiously awaiting their arrival fear the longer the shutdown goes on, the less likely they will reach their destination.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Invented Jenny (a new "old" stamp)

ESL Podcast Blog: The Invented Jenny (a new "old" stamp)

Stamp collecting was a much more popular pastime (hobby) 50 to 100 years ago, but philately — the technical name for stamp collecting — is still alive and well (existing and active) in the U.S. today. One of the most famous U.S. stamps that any philatelists — the technical name for stamp collectors — would like to own is known as the Inverted Jenny. (“Inverted” means upside down, where the top is at the bottom and the bottom is at the top.) (read more)

Learn more at Beyond the Perf: The Inverted Jenny: An Error Worth Celebrating

Friday, October 11, 2013

West Wing Week 10/11/13 or "The Shutdown Edition: Week Two" West Wing Week 10/11/13 or "The Shutdown Edition: Week Two"

Welcome to your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President continued to call for the House to reopen the government -- by passing a continuing resolution -- and avoid an economic shutdown, by raising the debt limit. That's October 4th to October 10th or "The Shutdown Edition: Week Two."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thousands Rally for Immigration Reform Stalled by Gov't Shutdown

VOA Video: Thousands Rally for Immigration Reform Stalled by Gov't Shutdown

The U.S. government shutdown has stalled an immigration reform bill that could affect an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The measure could offer undocumented immigrants amnesty and a pathway to citizenship. For supporters, who rallied in Washington this week, each day the government remains closed is another blow to progress. But opponents argue the shutdown provides more time to discuss the controversial issue. Arash Arabasadi has more.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Government Shutdown Fueled by Texas Voters

VOA Video: Government Shutdown Fueled by Texas Voters

The current shutdown of the U.S. government has widespread support among conservatives in Texas, who vehemently oppose President Obama's health care reform law, known as "Obamacare." But, as VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, there are also many Texans frustrated by the shutdown and its effects on programs they say are needed.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tea Party Drives Republican Hard Line on Government Funding

VOA Video: Tea Party Drives Republican Hard Line on Government Funding

A one-page letter - signed by almost one-fifth of the legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives - was a factor leading to a political stalemate and the U.S. government shutdown.

Congress and the President cannot agree on continuing to fund the government, with the Republicans determined to undermine the President's signature healthcare law.

As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, some powerful Republicans say they are bowing to the wishes of their constituents.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Way for Some Wealthy Investors to Get US Visas

VOA Learning English: A Way for Some Wealthy Investors to Get US Visas

What do these four things have in common: a proposed wind farm in the American state of Washington; a gold mine in Idaho; a new casino in Las Vegas; and ski resort expansions in Vermont? They are all investments for wealthy foreigners seeking green cards to live in the United States. Under American law, foreigners can get such visas if they invest at least $500,000 to create at least 10 jobs in the country.

Friday, October 4, 2013

West Wing Week: 10/04/13 or "#JustVote and End This Shutdown" West Wing Week: 10/04/13 or "#JustVote and End This Shutdown"

This week, the House of Representatives shut down the government, the President continued to urge them to pass a resolution to open the government back up, and the Health Insurance Marketplace opened for business under the Affordable Care Act. That's September 27th to October 3rd, or "Just vote, and end this shutdown."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Police Fatally Shoot Driver Outside U.S. Capitol Police Fatally Shoot Driver Outside U.S. Capitol

Police fatally shot a driver outside the U.S. capitol Thursday after a chase that started near the White House less than three kilometers away. Police say the driver - a woman with a child inside her car - tried to drive past a security barrier before speeding away. Authorities say that so far the driver's motive is not clear.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Iconic Lady Liberty Closed by US Gov't Shutdown

USCIS 100:95. Where is the Statue of Liberty?*

VOAVideo: Iconic Lady Liberty Closed by US Gov't Shutdown

One of America's iconic attractions, The Statue of Liberty, was seen but not touched on Tuesday after a U.S. government shutdown forced the closure of some of the nation's great tourist attractions. VOA'S Bernard Shusman reports from New York harbor.

USCIS 100:95. Where is the Statue of Liberty?*

▪ New York (Harbor)
▪ Liberty Island
[Also acceptable are New Jersey, near New York City, and on the Hudson (River).]

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

US Government Begins Shutdown

VOAVideo: US Government is Shutdown (Oct 1,2013 approx 9:00 am)

VOANews: US Government Begins Shutdown

The U.S. government has enacted a partial shutdown after the two chambers of Congress failed to agree on a single spending bill by the October 1st deadline.

Three times on Monday, the Republican-led House of Representatives approved a spending bill that would delay President Barack Obama's signature health care law, known as "Obamacare." In all three cases, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it minutes later.

Shortly before midnight, White House Budget Director Sylvia Burwell issued a directive to federal agencies to "execute plans for an orderly shutdown." The move means the furlough of an estimated 800,000 federal workers. Agencies affected will include the National Park Service, traffic safety agencies, and the Department of Defense. The latter will be affected mainly by the furlough of its civilian employees. Homeland Security agents and border security offices will remain open, as will other law enforcement agencies.

(read more)