Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fighting for the 'American Dream' (VOA On Assignment Jan. 25)

VOAVideo: Fighting for the 'American Dream' (VOA On Assignment Jan. 25)

VOA reporter Jeff Seldin joins On Assignment's Imran Siddiqui to discuss the future and controversy of the push for U.S. immigration reform through the story of one woman who fought deportation to stay in the country with her children.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

President Obama's Four Part Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

President Obama's Four Part Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

President Obama Speaks on Comprehensive Immigration Reform President Obama Speaks on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

President Obama speaks on the need for comprehensive immigration reform and outlines a proposal for a fair, effective and commonsense immigration system.

Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (transcript)

Del Sol High School
Las Vegas, Nevada

11:40 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! (Applause.) Thank you! Thank you so much. (Applause.) It is good to be back in Las Vegas! (Applause.) And it is good to be among so many good friends.

Let me start off by thanking everybody at Del Sol High School for hosting us. (Applause.) Go Dragons! Let me especially thank your outstanding principal, Lisa Primas. (Applause.)

There are all kinds of notable guests here, but I just want to mention a few. First of all, our outstanding Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is here. (Applause.) Our wonderful Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. (Applause.) Former Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. (Applause.) Two of the outstanding members of the congressional delegation from Nevada, Steve Horsford and Dina Titus. (Applause.) Your own mayor, Carolyn Goodman. (Applause.)

But we also have some mayors that flew in because they know how important the issue we’re going to talk about today is. Marie Lopez Rogers from Avondale, Arizona. (Applause.) Kasim Reed from Atlanta, Georgia. (Applause.) Greg Stanton from Phoenix, Arizona. (Applause.) And Ashley Swearengin from Fresno, California. (Applause.)

And all of you are here, as well as some of the top labor leaders in the country. And we are just so grateful. Some outstanding business leaders are here as well. And of course, we’ve got wonderful students here, so I could not be prouder of our students. (Applause.)

Now, those of you have a seat, feel free to take a seat. I don’t mind.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)

Now, last week, I had the honor of being sworn in for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.) And during my inaugural address, I talked about how making progress on the defining challenges of our time doesn’t require us to settle every debate or ignore every difference that we may have, but it does require us to find common ground and move forward in common purpose. It requires us to act.

I know that some issues will be harder to lift than others. Some debates will be more contentious. That’s to be expected. But the reason I came here today is because of a challenge where the differences are dwindling; where a broad consensus is emerging; and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across America. I’m here today because the time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.) The time is now. Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time.

AUDIENCE: Sí se puede! Sí se puede!

THE PRESIDENT: Now is the time.

I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long. I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.

Think about it -- we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. That’s who we are -- in our bones. The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths. It keeps our workforce young. It keeps our country on the cutting edge. And it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.

After all, immigrants helped start businesses like Google and Yahoo!. They created entire new industries that, in turn, created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens. In recent years, one in four high-tech startups in America were founded by immigrants. One in four new small business owners were immigrants, including right here in Nevada -- folks who came here seeking opportunity and now want to share that opportunity with other Americans.

But we all know that today, we have an immigration system that’s out of date and badly broken; a system that’s holding us back instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class.

Right now, we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in America; 11 million men and women from all over the world who live their lives in the shadows. Yes, they broke the rules. They crossed the border illegally. Maybe they overstayed their visas. Those are facts. Nobody disputes them. But these 11 million men and women are now here. Many of them have been here for years. And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren’t looking for any trouble. They’re contributing members of the community. They're looking out for their families. They're looking out for their neighbors. They're woven into the fabric of our lives.

Every day, like the rest of us, they go out and try to earn a living. Often they do that in a shadow economy -- a place where employers may offer them less than the minimum wage or make them work overtime without extra pay. And when that happens, it’s not just bad for them, it’s bad for the entire economy. Because all the businesses that are trying to do the right thing -- that are hiring people legally, paying a decent wage, following the rules -- they’re the ones who suffer. They've got to compete against companies that are breaking the rules. And the wages and working conditions of American workers are threatened, too.

So if we're truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we've got to fix the system.

We have to make sure that every business and every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable -- businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.)

There’s another economic reason why we need reform. It’s not just about the folks who come here illegally and have the effect they have on our economy. It’s also about the folks who try to come here legally but have a hard time doing so, and the effect that has on our economy.

Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities. They’re earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science. But once they finish school, once they earn that diploma, there’s a good chance they’ll have to leave our country. Think about that.

Intel was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Instagram was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Right now in one of those classrooms, there’s a student wrestling with how to turn their big idea -- their Intel or Instagram -- into a big business. We’re giving them all the skills they need to figure that out, but then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else? That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors. That’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.)

Now, during my first term, we took steps to try and patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.

First, we strengthened security at the borders so that we could finally stem the tide of illegal immigrants. We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in our history. And today, illegal crossings are down nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. (Applause.)

Second, we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally and who endanger our communities. And today, deportations of criminals is at its highest level ever. (Applause.)

And third, we took up the cause of the DREAMers -- (applause) -- the young people who were brought to this country as children, young people who have grown up here, built their lives here, have futures here. We said that if you’re able to meet some basic criteria like pursuing an education, then we’ll consider offering you the chance to come out of the shadows so that you can live here and work here legally, so that you can finally have the dignity of knowing you belong.

But because this change isn’t permanent, we need Congress to act -- and not just on the DREAM Act. We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country right now. That's what we need. (Applause.)

Now, the good news is that for the first time in many years, Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. (Applause.) Members of both parties, in both chambers, are actively working on a solution. Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years. So at this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon, and that’s very encouraging.

But this time, action must follow. (Applause.) We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We've been debating this a very long time. So it's not as if we don't know technically what needs to get done. As a consequence, to help move this process along, today I’m laying out my ideas for immigration reform. And my hope is that this provides some key markers to members of Congress as they craft a bill, because the ideas I’m proposing have traditionally been supported by both Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Republicans like President George W. Bush. You don't get that matchup very often. (Laughter.) So we know where the consensus should be.

Now, of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of the details, and every stakeholder should engage in real give and take in the process. But it’s important for us to recognize that the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away. (Applause.)

So the principles are pretty straightforward. There are a lot of details behind it. We're going to hand out a bunch of paper so that everybody will know exactly what we're talking about. But the principles are pretty straightforward.

First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. That means continuing to strengthen security at our borders. It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. To be fair, most businesses want to do the right thing, but a lot of them have a hard time figuring out who’s here legally, who’s not. So we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone’s employment status. And if they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, then we need to ramp up the penalties.

Second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. We all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. (Applause.)

We’ve got to lay out a path -- a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line, behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally. That's only fair, right? (Applause.)

So that means it won’t be a quick process but it will be a fair process. And it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually to citizenship. (Applause.)

And the third principle is we’ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time. (Applause.) For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America. You shouldn't have to wait years. (Applause.)

If you’re a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here. Because if you succeed, you’ll create American businesses and American jobs. You’ll help us grow our economy. You’ll help us strengthen our middle class.

So that’s what comprehensive immigration reform looks like: smarter enforcement; a pathway to earned citizenship; improvements in the legal immigration system so that we continue to be a magnet for the best and the brightest all around the world. It’s pretty straightforward.

The question now is simple: Do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do. I believe that we do. (Applause.) I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive immigration reform is within our grasp.

But I promise you this: The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become. Immigration has always been an issue that enflames passions. That’s not surprising. There are few things that are more important to us as a society than who gets to come here and call our country home; who gets the privilege of becoming a citizen of the United States of America. That's a big deal.

When we talk about that in the abstract, it’s easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of “us” versus “them.” And when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of “us” used to be “them.” We forget that. (Applause.)

It’s really important for us to remember our history. Unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. Somebody brought you. (Applause.)

Ken Salazar, he’s of Mexican American descent, but he points that his family has been living where he lives for 400 years, so he didn't immigrate anywhere. (Laughter.)

The Irish who left behind a land of famine. The Germans who fled persecution. The Scandinavians who arrived eager to pioneer out west. The Polish. The Russians. The Italians. The Chinese. The Japanese. The West Indians. The huddled masses who came through Ellis Island on one coast and Angel Island on the other. (Applause.) All those folks, before they were “us,” they were “them.”

And when each new wave of immigrants arrived, they faced resistance from those who were already here. They faced hardship. They faced racism. They faced ridicule. But over time, as they went about their daily lives, as they earned a living, as they raised a family, as they built a community, as their kids went to school here, they did their part to build a nation.

They were the Einsteins and the Carnegies. But they were also the millions of women and men whose names history may not remember, but whose actions helped make us who we are; who built this country hand by hand, brick by brick. (Applause.) They all came here knowing that what makes somebody an American is not just blood or birth, but allegiance to our founding principles and the faith in the idea that anyone from anywhere can write the next great chapter of our story.

And that’s still true today. Just ask Alan Aleman. Alan is here this afternoon -- where is Alan? He's around here -- there he is right here. (Applause.) Alan was born in Mexico. (Applause.) He was brought to this country by his parents when he was a child. Growing up, Alan went to an American school, pledged allegiance to the American flag, felt American in every way -- and he was, except for one: on paper.

In high school, Alan watched his friends come of age -- driving around town with their new licenses, earning some extra cash from their summer jobs at the mall. He knew he couldn’t do those things. But it didn’t matter that much. What mattered to Alan was earning an education so that he could live up to his God-given potential.

Last year, when Alan heard the news that we were going to offer a chance for folks like him to emerge from the shadows -- even if it's just for two years at a time -- he was one of the first to sign up. And a few months ago he was one of the first people in Nevada to get approved. (Applause.) In that moment, Alan said, “I felt the fear vanish. I felt accepted.”

So today, Alan is in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada. (Applause.) Alan is studying to become a doctor. (Applause.) He hopes to join the Air Force. He’s working hard every single day to build a better life for himself and his family. And all he wants is the opportunity to do his part to build a better America. (Applause.)

So in the coming weeks, as the idea of reform becomes more real and the debate becomes more heated, and there are folks who are trying to pull this thing apart, remember Alan and all those who share the same hopes and the same dreams. Remember that this is not just a debate about policy. It’s about people. It’s about men and women and young people who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story.

Throughout our history, that has only made our nation stronger. And it’s how we will make sure that this century is the same as the last: an American century welcoming of everybody who aspires to do something more, and who is willing to work hard to do it, and is willing to pledge that allegiance to our flag.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

12:05 P.M. PST

A Flag for All Seasons

Here’s your first look at A Flag for All Seasons, a set of four Forever® stamps that show Old Glory waving proudly throughout the year against a backdrop of trees. The stamps will be released later this year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Washington's Focus Turns to Immigration Reform, Obama Cabinet Picks

VOAVideo: Washington's Focus Turns to Immigration Reform, Obama Cabinet Picks

A push for U.S. immigration reform and Senate action on President Barack Obama's cabinet picks highlight what promises to be a busy week in U.S. politics. VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

Monday, January 28, 2013

CITIZENSHIP TEST: Vũ Xuân Trần (Nha Trang, Vietnam)

Prepare for your citizenship interview with a multiple choice test about Vũ Xuân Trần's interview and 10 USCIS questions. 

(download pdf)

This quiz was inspired by my students from Vietnam--I am so thankful for all of my students!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

ESL Podcast 863 – Limiting Free Speech

USCIS 100:6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*

ESL Podcast 863 – Limiting Free Speech 

I may not like what you have to say, but I’ll defend you’re right to say it. Learn about freedom of speech in this episode.  Download Podcast 

Also check out ESLPod's Introduction to the United States: Complete Course

Introduction to the United States” is a course that answers your questions about the United States in a new and exciting way. This course uses the 100 questions from U.S. naturalization test, the test that people take to become a citizen of the United States. It focuses on how the U.S. was formed and how it works, who the important people are in its history and in the current government, and the different parts of this very big and diverse country.

USCIS 100:6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*

▪ speech
▪ religion
▪ assembly
▪ press
▪ petition the government

Friday, January 25, 2013

West Wing Week 01/25/13 or: "Behind the Scenes: Inauguration 2013" West Wing Week 01/25/13 or: "Behind the Scenes: Inauguration 2013"

This week, Washington D.C. was transformed into an historic stage, with an estimated one million people on hand to witness the President and Vice President take the Oath of Office at the United States Capitol. Through it all, West Wing Week was there, from the terrace of the Capitol to backstage at the balls. America, take a moment to look back at where we've been this week for this special edition of West Wing Week, January 18th to the 24th, or "Behind the Scenes: Inauguration 2013.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

US Citizenship Test - Naturalization Test

MrDeansDen: US Citizenship Test - Naturalization Test

Legal US citizenship, where the person in question is not a natural born citizen, requires a test similar to the one presented in this video. Could you pass the US Citizenship test?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Diversity on Display at US Presidential Inauguration

VOAVideo: Diversity on Display at US Presidential Inauguration

Hundreds of thousands of people came to Washington, Monday, to witness President Barack Obama's second inauguration. VOA's Brian Padden was out among the crowd for the ceremony and talked to people representing the growing diversity of the American electorate.

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama Delivers His Second Inaugural Address President Obama Delivers His Second Inaugural Address

President Obama takes the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol and delivers his second inaugural address. transcript

THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

And for more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people. (Applause.)

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. (Applause.) An economic recovery has begun. (Applause.) America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together. (Applause.)

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. (Applause.) We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. (Applause.)

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. (Applause.) For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.

We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. (Applause.) They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. (Applause.)

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. (Applause.) Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.

The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure -- our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (Applause.) Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. (Applause.) Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends -- and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. (Applause.)

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. (Applause.)

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- (applause) -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity -- (applause) -- until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task -- to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. (Applause.)

For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. (Applause.) We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time -- not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. (Applause.)

Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you. God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America. (Applause.)

12:10 P.M. EST

CITIZENSHIP TEST: Krestos Negasi (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Prepare for your citizenship interview and Martin Luther King Day with a multiple choice test about Krestos Negasi's interview and 10 USCIS questions. (download pdf)

This test was inspired by the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. AND…

 “Holding the Bag” (a high beginning ESL novel) by Ana Gianola, 978-1-56420-544-5

Negasi is a Washington DC taxi driver from Ethiopia who has been in the U.S. for many years and has a family. He accidentally becomes involved in a robbery and faces a moral issue.

Thanks to for their outstanding ESL/Citizenship resources. My students & I love you!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Obama and Biden's Inaugurations President Obama takes the Oath of Office

President Barack Obama takes the oath of office in an official swearing-in ceremony at the White House. January 20, 2013. Vice President Biden Takes the Oath of Office

Vice President Joe Biden takes the oath of office in an official swearing-in ceremony at the Naval Observatory. January 20, 2013.

For more info, check out Presidential Inauguration and Martin Luther King, Jr lessons.

Washington Prepares for Obama Inauguration

VOAvideo: Washington Prepares for Obama Inauguration

As it does every four years, Washington is preparing for the spectacle of a presidential inauguration. President Obama's official inauguration in January 20, 2013 and his public inauguration and celebration in January 21, 2013--Martin Luther King Jr Day!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Buổi Giao Tiếp Công Chúng của USCIS / Vietnamese Language Engagement Invitation

Vietnamese Language Engagement Invitation (English version)

On February 21st, 2013, USCIS will be hosting a live public engagement in Santa Ana, CA. Participants may come to the office, view by web, or listen on the phone. View the video for more details.

Xem bằng tiếng Việt:

Buổi Giao Tiếp Công Chúng của USCIS (Vietnamese Public Engagement at USCIS)

Giao Tiếp bằng tiếng Việt. Ngày 21 tháng 2, năm 2013. 2:00 giờ chiều (giờ chuẩn Thái Bình Dương).

Friday, January 18, 2013

West Wing Week: 01/18/13 or "#NowIsTheTime"

West Wing Week: 01/18/13 or "#NowIsTheTime"

This week, President Hamid Karzai came to the White House, as did nine newly posted foreign ambassadors and the President held the final news conference of his first term before initiating 23 separate executive actions to prevent gun violence

Thursday, January 17, 2013

USCIS Citizenship Teacher Training Seminars

New to teaching US Citizenship?

The USCIS is hosting a series of free full-day teachers training seminar conducted by for ESL, civics and citizenship administrators, teachers and volunteers of adults. Other personnel (e.g., support staff, attorneys) are also welcome to attend. NEW resources, hands-on teaching materials, and information will be shared。 Register online at or fax the online registration form to 202-272-1316 to the attention of Office of Citizenship. The deadline to register is January 18, 2013. Please email any questions to directly.

(I'm planning to go to the Jan 31 San Jose session--see you there!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

USCIS Policy Manual USCIS Policy Manual

In April 2010, USCIS began an unprecedented review of our policies by gathering input from thousands of agency employees, customers, and stakeholders. One result of that review is a new centralized online resource, the USCIS Policy Manual.

Please take a moment to view our video below and explore the Policy Manual and supporting resources. The Policy Manual is designed to adapt easily to changes in immigration law and policy. A keyword search function and numerous charts, graphs and process flow maps enable easy navigation and research. Users will also find helpful links to other adjudicative resources.

The new Policy Manual will ultimately replace USCIS's current Adjudicators Field Manual, or AFM, and the current USCIS Immigration Policy Memoranda website. Additional volumes will be phased in as they are completed. We released the first completed volume of the Policy Manual, covering Citizenship and Naturalization, on January 7, 2013. To provide customers and stakeholders time to transition, the policies contained in the Citizenship and Naturalization volume will be effective on Jan. 22, 2013.

For more info about the public meetings which discuss the new USCIS manual, see USCIS Public Engagements.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

USCIS Webinars on January 16 and January 17

For more info, see USCIS Public Engagements.

Dear Stakeholder,

Last Friday I sent you information on tomorrow’s teleconference with Director Mayorkas regarding 
the new Policy Manual being launched today (1/7/13.) This first release covers citizenship and 
naturalization. Future releases will add benefit types and will gradually expand to cover all USCIS 

USCIS will host a series of webinars this month to give you an opportunity to learn about the policy 
manual and ask questions about its use and features.

The schedule for the webinar series is as follows:

Time (all times Eastern)
Thursday, January 10
1– 2 p.m.
Wednesday, January 16
1– 2 p.m.
Thursday, January 17
3– 4 p.m.

To Participate in a Session:
Any interested parties may participate in these webinars. If you wish to attend, please email the 
Public Engagement Division at no later than the day 
before the session.

To participate in a particular session, please reference the following in the subject line:

To Participate In the Session On
Please Reference
Thursday, January 10
Policy Manual – January 10
Wednesday, January 16
Policy Manual – January 16
Thursday, January 17
Policy Manual – January 17

Please include your full name and the organization you represent in the body of the email.

Following your registration, the Public Engagement Division at the CSPE office in 
Washington DC will provide an email confirmation with additional details about how to 
participate in the webinar you selected.

For more info, see USCIS Public Engagements.

Monday, January 14, 2013

USCIS Stakeholder Meeting on January 15

For more info, see USCIS Public Engagements.

Dear Stakeholder,

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas invites interested individuals to participate in a stakeholder engagement and meet and greet on Tuesday, January 15, at 1:00pm (Eastern). Please note that this engagement was previously scheduled for Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1pm (Eastern). If you have already registered to participate, you do not need to respond separately to this message.

On January 7, 2013, USCIS published the first volume of a comprehensive new online Policy Manual. This first volume covers Citizenship and Naturalization. The transition to a centralized online policy resource is the result of an unprecedented agency-wide review of all adjudication and customer service policies.

During the engagement, Director Mayorkas will discuss the Policy Manual, highlight new citizenship and naturalization-related policies, and answer questions. In addition, Director Mayorkas will provide agency updates on such initiatives as the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process, the USCIS immigrant fee, and others.

Immediately following the engagement, Director Mayorkas welcomes stakeholders to remain for a meet and greet to welcome the New Year.

To Participate in the Session
You may participate in this engagement in person or by telephone. To register, please email the Public Engagement Division no later than Monday, January 14, 2013 at Reference the following in the subject line of your email:

If you plan to attend in person, please reference “Director – In Person”
If you plan to attend by phone, please reference “Director – By Phone”

Please include your full name and the organization you represent in the body of the email.

To Join the Session
If you are attending in person, please be sure to bring photo identification and arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes early to allow extra time to complete the security process. If you are attending by phone, please use the information below to join the session. We recommend calling in at least 10 minutes before the start of the teleconference.

Call-in Number: 888-989-3320
Passcode: Director

Many Thanks,
USCIS Public Engagement Division

For more info, see USCIS Public Engagements.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

US Farmers Back Immigration Reform

VOANews: US Farmers Back Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is expected to be back on the agenda in the new U.S. Congress, after an election in which voters with Latino roots decisively supported President Obama's bid for a second term. Most of the U.S. farm workforce is made up of illegal Latino immigrants, despite a guest-worker program which would allow them to enter and work in the U.S. legally. However, farmers say that system is broken. VOA's Steve Baragona reports.

Friday, January 11, 2013

West Wing Week: 01/11/13 or "The Interests of Our Country"

West Wing Week: 01/11/13 or "The Interests of Our Country"

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the President nominated a bipartisan slate of leaders to key administration jobs and the Vice President met with a wide array of organizations to talk about efforts to reduce gun violence.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

American History: Early Leaders Debate the Issue of Presidential Powers

USCIS 100:15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

VOANews: American History: Early Leaders Debate the Issue of Presidential Powers

In May of 1787, a group of America's early leaders met in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They planned to amend the Articles of Confederation. That document established a loose union of the 13 states. Instead, they wrote a completely new constitution. It created America's system of government and recognized the rights of its citizens. (read more)

USCIS 100:15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

▪ the Presiden

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

American History: Meeting in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution

USCIS:66. When was the Constitution written?

VOA Learning English American History: Meeting in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution

In May of 1787, a group of America's early leaders met in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They planned to amend the Articles of Confederation. That document established a loose union of the 13 states. Instead, they wrote a completely new constitution. It created America's system of government and recognized the rights of its citizens. (read more)

USCIS:66. When was the Constitution written?

▪ 1787

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

American History: States Plan for Constitutional Convention

USCIS 100:65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

VOA Learning English American History: States Plan for Constitutional Convention

This week in our series, we begin the story of a document that defined a nation: the United States Constitution. The 13 American colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776. But they had to fight for that independence in a long war that followed. During that war, the states were united by an agreement called the Articles of Confederation. (read more)

USCIS 100:65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

▪ The Constitution was written.
▪ The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Body of Laws to Govern a New Nation

USCIS 100:2. What does the Constitution do?

VOANews: A Body of Laws to Govern a New Nation

The United States became a nation in 1776. Less than a century later, in the 1860s, it was nearly torn apart. A civil war took place, the only one in the nation's history. States from the North and the South fought against each other. The conflict involved the right of the South to leave the Union and deal with issues -- especially the issue of slavery -- its own way. (read more)

USCIS 100:2. What does the Constitution do?

▪ sets up the government
▪ defines the government
▪ protects basic rights of Americans

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New US Congress Sworn In

USCIS 100:23. Name your U.S. Representative.

Members of the 113th U.S. Congress, many accompanied by family members, take the oath of office in the House of Representatives chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. (read more)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fiscal Cliff Deal Highlights Messy US Democracy in Action

VOAVideo: Fiscal Cliff Deal Highlights Messy US Democracy in Action

The partisan polarization and political dysfunction on display during the recent "fiscal cliff" budget negotiations has left many people pessimistic about the U.S. democratic system's ability to function. VOA's Brian Padden has more on what seems to be a perpetual state of gridlock in Washington.

Friday, January 4, 2013

West Wing Week: 01/04/13 or "Welcome to 2013: The Annual Resolutions Edition!"

West Wing Week: 01/04/13 or "Welcome to 2013: The Annual Resolutions Edition!"

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the President spent several days in talks with Congressional leaders in an ultimately successful effort to reach a bipartisan compromise around the central promise of the president's re-election campaign: preventing an income tax increase on middle class families while asking the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay more to help deal with our deficit. Also White House staffers shared some of their New Year's resolutions.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

House Speaker Boehner Re-elected Despite Dissent from Republican Caucus

USCIS 100:47. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

VOAVideo: House Speaker Boehner Re-elected Despite Dissent from Republican Caucus

Following a rough first term, with battles over taxes and spending cuts, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner has won re-election to that post. Analysts say the Republican leader will likely face more turbulence, with some members of his own party rebelling against him and any compromise with President Barack Obama and Democrats. VOA Congressional Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Capitol Hill, where a brand new House and Senate have been sworn in.]]

USCIS 100:47. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

  • John Boehner

Also see VOAVideo: US Lawmakers Approve Fiscal Cliff Deal

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Video, New Podcast, New Year, New Citizen!

uscitizenpod: New Year, New Citizen video

N-400 Interview with Teacher Lisa Lau (Hong Kong)  
based on the N-400 section practices

  • After her mock interview, Teacher Lisa gives some tips about how to prepare for your citizenship interview. 

(download mp3)