Friday, July 24, 2015

West Wing Week: 07/24/15

'Veep Talk': The Situation in Ukraine

Biden Speaks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Vice President Joe Biden spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The two leaders discussed ongoing U.S. security assistance for Ukraine, Ukraine's anti-corruption efforts, energy security, and the urgency of seeking justice in the Malaysia Airlines MH-17 tragedy. The Vice President welcomed the recent reform laws that were passed by the Rada and noted the need for keeping the pace with Ukraine’s reform agenda, particularly on combatting corruption. The two leaders also discussed the implementation of the Minsk agreements, and the Vice President welcomed President Poroshenko's proposal to create a 30-kilometer zone free of tanks, artillery and mortar systems along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, to be monitored by the OSCE. Both leaders agreed that Russia and Russia-backed separatists had still failed to fully implement the first few steps under the February 12, 2015 Minsk Implementation Plan calling for a ceasefire and the removal of heavy weapons from the line of contact.

Source: The White House Press Office 

Presidential Delegation to Attend Opening of the Special Olympics World Games

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to attend the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, California

Mrs. Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, will lead the delegation and deliver brief remarks to announce the official beginning of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games on Saturday, July 25, 2015.

Nearly 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches will represent 170 countries at the Special Olympics World Games.  For more information about the upcoming 2015 Special Olympics World Games, please visit

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Maxine Waters, Member of the United States House of Representatives (CA-43)

The Honorable Adam Schiff, Member of the United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Janice Hahn, Member of the United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Alan Lowenthal, Member of the United States House of Representatives (CA-47)

Source: The White House Press Office

Rice: 'We Mourn the Passing of Ambassador Olhaye'

Statement by National Security Advisor
Susan Rice on the Passing of Ambassador Olhaye

I wish to offer my deepest condolences on the passing of Djiboutian Ambassador to the United States Roble Olhaye.  Ambassador Olhaye was the longest-serving Ambassador to the United States, a tireless advocate for Djibouti, U.S.-Djiboutian relations, and a personal friend. We mourn the passing of Ambassador Olhaye, a forceful promoter of trade between Africa and America, even as we celebrate a cause to which he contributed so much, the long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Ambassador Olhaye’s family and loved ones, and we take solace knowing that his legacy lives on in our strong ties with Djibouti and the broader continent.

Source: The White House Press Office

$4.1 Million in Federal Grants Available Competitively to Westchester Communities

Local Governments Have Access to
HUD Funding for First Time Since 2010

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that $4.1 million in Federal grants are available through New York State Homes and Community Renewal, to 42 cities, towns and villages in Westchester for housing, public infrastructure, public facilities and economic development activities. Prior to this year, these municipalities were part of the Westchester County Consortium that was prohibited from receiving funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) due to the County's non-compliance with federal Fair Housing requirements. The County disbanded the Consortium this year, enabling the former members to apply directly to the State for funding if they provide evidence of affirmatively furthering fair housing.

In February 2015, Governor Cuomo and Congresswoman Lowey announced an agreement to release a targeted Request for Proposals for HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to address priority issues in eligible Westchester communities. New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) has now issued the Request for Proposals to eligible local governments that serve populations of less than 50,000. HCR will award more than $4 million through the competitive application to ensure that funding goes to initiatives that encourage investment in communities, revitalize development and are well integrated with other regional priorities.

“This funding is a vital resource for communities in Westchester, and today we are able to restart the grant process and further improve the quality of life throughout the County,” said Governor Cuomo. “This was a collaborative effort between our administration, Congresswoman Lowey and many other partners in government, and I am pleased to see this critical funding made available once again to the groups that need it most.”

"This Request for Proposals presents a path forward for cities and towns in Westchester that are meeting their obligation to build inclusive communities," said Holly Leicht, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. "CDBG funding is a life source for municipalities nationwide that are investing in infrastructure, economic development opportunities and affordable housing. We thank HCR and Congress members Lowey and Engel for working closely with HUD to bring much-needed Federal funding to municipalities in Westchester County that share our commitment to improving communities equitably."

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey said, “The Governor and I found a creative solution so that HUD investments will once again be made in Westchester, and I’m pleased that communities in the county will receive more than $4 million for economic development and public infrastructure projects in the coming months.”

James S. Rubin, Commissioner/CEO of HCR said, “We are committed to supporting vital development projects across the state that expand and preserve affordable housing opportunities. These grants empower Westchester’s communities by allowing them to access Federal funding streams. Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and HUD’s commitment to finding an equitable solution for vulnerable communities, eligible Westchester municipalities can move forward with their robust initiatives. I look forward to being part of that process, coordinating with Secretary Castro to bring these priority funds to Westchester residents.”

Unlike the funds that Westchester County forfeited, these funds are competitive and are administered through the State. The eligible towns had formed the Westchester County Consortium to meet the population threshold necessary to receive a non-competitive annual allocation of CDBG funding. That status precluded the towns from applying to the State for competitive funds. Now that they have that opportunity, HCR and HUD agreed to issue a targeted RFP for the amount of additional funding the State is receiving this year, thanks to the addition of the Westchester towns that were formerly part of the County's Consortium.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal will administer these CDBG funds and ensure that recipients comply with fair housing law. Local governments must demonstrate that the proposed project will primarily impact low- and moderate-income households for initiatives that finance the creation, renovation or energy-efficient retrofits of affordable housing, as well as infrastructure funding. Under the terms of the state/federal agreement eligible projects must be located in the catchment area of the former Westchester County Consortium.

The 2015 Westchester County Competitive Application for Housing, Public Infrastructure, Economic Development and Public Facilities is available here and is due October 23, 2015.

The New York State Office of Community Renewal at HCR will be conducting technical assistance workshops for municipal officials on Tuesday, July 28th, at the following locations: Mount Kisco Public Library, 2nd Floor, 100 Main Street, Mount Kisco at 10:00 a.m. and Town of Mamaroneck Town Hall, 740 West Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck, NY at 1:00 p.m.

HCR agencies include the Affordable Housing Corporation, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the Housing Finance Agency, State of New York Mortgage Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation and others. In 2014, HCR boasted a record year, financing the creation or preservation of 9,407 affordable housing units, including affordable homeownership opportunities for more than one thousand families. 2015 marks the third year of Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion statewide House NY program, whose goal is to create or preserve 14,300 affordable units by 2018. As the largest investment in New York State’s affordable housing stock in at least 15 years, House NY investments will keep thousands of low- and moderate-income Mitchell-Lama units affordable for another 40 years. The House NY initiative works in tandem with HCR’s vigorous efforts to protect more than two million rent-regulated tenants thanks to the greatest strengthening of the state’s rent laws in 30 years, and the creation of HCR’s Tenant Protection Unit which proactively audits and investigates landlord wrongdoing and has returned more than 40,000 units to rent regulation.

Source: Press Office, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

Analyzing the 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates


Chairman of the New York State Conservative Party Assesses Their Strengths and Weaknesses, Predicts “The Final Three” Most Likely to Win the GOP Nomination

Michael Long is Chairman of the New York State Conservative Party. He served his country in the United States Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 1961. A volunteer for United States Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign for President, Mr. Long registered as a member of the New York State Conservative Party that same year. In 1968, he was elected as a District Leader of the Conservative Party and went on to be elected Chairman of the Kings County Conservative Party in 1972 and Vice Chairman of the State Conservative Party in 1974.

He continued his leadership in the Conservative Party, being elected Executive Vice Chairman in 1985 and ultimately State Chairman in 1989. At the 2010 CPAC in Washington, DC, The American Conservative Union Foundation presented the chairman with “The Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award”, and he has received several other awards for community service.

He has appeared on both national and local news programs including Crossfire, Hardball with host Chris Matthews and Inside City Hall on NY 1, to name a few. He also appeared on this show earlier in the year to discuss a range of issues, including the racial tension in New York City in the wake of Eric Garner’s death and what Republicans need to do to win the White House in 2016.

The interview was conducted on July 17, 2015.

Information pertaining to this episode is available through the following links:

GOP Presidential Candidates Return CoCC Donations

List of current GOP 2016 Presidential Candidates

Cuomo Celebrates 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act


Event at West Capitol Park in Albany
Honors Advocates from Across the State

Governor Andrew Cuomo today honored the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – the world’s first comprehensive law guaranteeing equal rights to people with disabilities. Today, a public celebration was held at West Capitol Park in Albany, New York, where leading disability advocates hosted New Yorkers from all over the state featuring live music by the band Flame (whose members are all individuals with disabilities) and words of inspiration from people directly impacted by the historic legislation.

“Every day, millions of New York residents are able to live freely, sustain gainful employment, and pursue their dreams thanks to the protections and parity offered by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Governor Cuomo said. “From ensuring accessible buildings to providing important support and services, the impact of this legislation cannot be underestimated. Together, we must ensure that New York extends our long history of innovation, equality, and inclusion for individuals and today we celebrate our continued dedication to the cause of equality for all.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was the world’s first comprehensive law guaranteeing equal rights to people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination against them, and promoting accessibility to jobs, schools, transportation, communication and all public and private places that are open to the general public. Governor Cuomo has made New York a national leader on disability rights by promoting key policies and initiatives including the state’s comprehensive Olmstead Implementation Plan to serve individuals with disabilities in the most integrated settings, Executive Order 136 which established the New York Employment First Initiative to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and creation of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs which protects the safety and civil rights of New Yorkers.

The ADA was signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. Among its co-sponsors were both of New York’s United States Senators and 26 Members of the United States House of Representatives from New York. Since its passage, governments around the world have enacted laws guaranteeing rights and access to people with disabilities.

Acting Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Commissioner and Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council Chair Kerry A. Delaney said, “The passage of the ADA changed the way the world viewed people with disabilities and forever changed the lives of people with disabilities, providing them equal access to all areas of life, from employment to enjoyment. The state agency members of the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council will continue to uphold and enforce the rights of New Yorkers with disabilities to access services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs and support people with disabilities’ right to advocate for equal rights and services.”

Jim Weisman, President and CEO of the United Spinal Association, and a key negotiator with members of Congress in drafting and supporting the passage of the ADA and who was present at its signing, said, “Prior to ADA nondiscrimination was passive. Refraining from treating people differently because of their race, gender, religion, etc., and treating everyone equally was all that was necessary to guarantee compliance and socially correct behavior. ADA made the failure to act – that is, to make reasonable accommodation – discriminatory and unlawful.”

Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director of New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, said, “Today represents another defining moment for people with mental health conditions like me and millions of other New Yorkers and Americans across our country. Over the past 25 years, our community and our nation have come so far in affirming and extending our and the entire disability community’s full rights to dignity, respect, and a full life in our communities of choice. Yet, we have so far to go to address and end the discrimination, defamation, segregation, criminalization and the shame and fear that so many of us endure every day. We mark today how far we’ve come…let’s mark it as a day of commitment to redouble our efforts to make sure all of us truly get to enjoy full participation in the ‘great society’ in which we live!”

Since being enacted in 1990, the ADA has had a profound impact on the lives of many New Yorkers:

“Everything I do, all the places I go to, would not have happened without accessible transportation and the important changes the ADA made happen for all of us with a disability.” - Tony Philips

“I have a lot of support to accommodate my needs, made possible by the Americans with Disabilities Act. I feel the ADA betters people with mental illness by opening doors and providing valuable supports.” – Jessica W.

“I’ve used the ADA to advocate for employment, access sporting events at stadiums and arenas, for going to school and college and advocating in the community for accessibility for sidewalks, street lights, hotels and other facilities. For me the ADA has been one of the most important pieces of legislation next to the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. and around the world.” – Chester Finn

“Ramps at the Post Office have made it easier for me to go there. Designated handicapped parking spaces have made it easier for me to get into places- before, I had to walk ‘a mile.’ Curb cuts have made it easier and safer to use my walker.” - Robert Buchholz

“As a longtime New York State Commission for the Blind employee and a blind New Yorker myself, I experience the impact of the ADA daily. Professionally, the ADA has allowed employees to be considered equally with appropriate accommodations.” - Don Horn

“As a blind New Yorker myself, I can attest to specific changes as a result of the ADA that have made my life easier and given me greater freedom: ATM machines are accessible to me to use with headphones, eliminating the need for assistance from a sighted friend or bank employee; some plays, movies and television stations have audio descriptions; and museums offer access programs where art exhibits are described by an art educator. As a New York City resident, the use of curb cuts and pavement bumps on street corners and subway platforms identify platform edges and audible pedestrian signals make it safer for me to navigate independently.” - Barbara Campbell

The Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council, established by Chapter 551 of the Laws of 202, is responsible for ensuring that New Yorkers of all ages with physical, intellectual, developmental and mental disabilities receive care and services in the most integrated settings appropriate to their individual needs. Currently chaired by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Council now consists of representatives from multiple state agencies and nine appointed public representatives. In addition to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the other NYS Agency Council Members are: Office of Mental Health, Department of Health, Office for the Aging, Education Department, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Department of Transportation, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.

For more testimonials and more information about the ADA, visit

Hearing on Immigration Enforcement and Sanctuary Cities

Law enforcement officials, immigration scholars, and a man whose son was murdered testify at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on proposed changes to immigration laws, including cuts to federal grants for so-called "sanctuary cities". 

Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions around the country that have polices to shelter illegal immigrants and do not use local resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

Video link: Hearing  

Source: C-Span

Congressional Response to Planned Parenthood Videos

Sarah Ferris, healthcare reporter with The Hill, discusses congressional responses to two videos released by an anti-abortion group allegedly featuring Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue for medical research.

Source: C-Span

Senator Ted Cruz on Export-Import Bank Reauthorization

Created by Caitlin Hillyard on July 24, 2015
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) criticizes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for filing an amendment to the highway funding bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and preventing senators from offering additional amendments by filling the amendment tree. He calls Senator McConnell's actions "procedural abuse" and compares his tactics to those of now-Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) when he was majority leader.  
Video link: Ted Cruz  
Source: C-Span 

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: The Shooter Tried to Escape

The shooter appeared to be leaving the theater with the crowd, but turned around and went back in when police arrived.

Mysterious Crop Circles Re-Appear in Russian Field

Similar unexplained patterns appeared in the field near the city of Tolgiatti 10 years ago, drawing Russian UFO enthusiasts to speculate about their origins.

"Flashback Friday": Geraldine Ferraro at the 1984 Democratic Convention

Geraldine Ferraro, the first female Vice Presidential candidate on a national party ticket, gives her address on the last night of the 1984 Democratic Convention in San Francisco, CA.

Trailblazers in Black History: Paul Robeson

Today in History: July 24th

Students Support State Maintenance of Effort Bill, Urge Governor Cuomo to Approve

Albany – Members of the Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA) affirm their support for New York State Senate and Assembly bills S281A-2015/A5370A-2015 (the State Maintenance of Effort bill) by issuing a Memorandum of Support and urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to approve the bill. This legislation would amend current education law and “make available,” in the words of the proposed bill, “general fund operating support to cover all mandatory costs of the state university and the state university health science centers.” By approving this bill, recently passed by both the New York State Assembly and Senate, Governor Cuomo would be committing to taking the incremental SUNY tuition raises created by rational tuition policy and funneling them back into the universities in order to support the students that pay them. 

Since rational tuition policy was passed in 2011, the state has not covered mandatory cost increases, which are defined in part, in the bill’s own language, as “collective bargaining costs including salary increments, fringe benefits, and other non-personal service costs such as utility costs, building rentals and other inflationary expenses.” This legislation would provide a commitment by the state to cover these inflating costs in the future. 

As Nicholas Simons, Director of Legislative Affairs for SUNY SA, explains, "This bill that lies in the hands of the governor ensures that the students, faculty, and staff of our universities are able to benefit from the funds generated by these tuition raises. This progress would allow for increased opportunities for students in the SUNY system and continue a trend New York State has set regarding proactive higher education policy." 

"The students of SUNY regard this legislation as one of utmost importance,” Daniel Franasiak, Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs, states. He continues, “As the costs associated with higher education continue to increase, the approval of this legislation is critical if we are to remain at the forefront of state college systems nationwide." 

SUNY SA President Thomas Mastro on the critical nature of the bill: "SUNY prides itself on being at the forefront of progress and economic success. For decades, SUNY has proven to play a significant and positive role in the economy of the Empire State, and continuously provides New York with a large, skilled, and innovative work force. In order for us to continue to build upon our success, it is imperative that our funding needs are met. When we agreed to the provisions of SUNY 2020, we did so under the assumption that we would receive full and honest state maintenance of effort to help us cover our most basic costs. In the more than four years since the implementation of SUNY 2020, we have yet to see that promise executed. We ask Governor Cuomo to act swiftly on this matter and to approve the State Maintenance of Effort bill, securing the future of SUNY, of hundreds of thousands of students, and guaranteeing the continued success of a key shareholder in the future of New York State's economy." 

The Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA) is an organization comprised of student leaders elected by their peers from across SUNY’s 64 campuses. Empowering students throughout the state, the SUNY SA is committed to student life and ensuring the representation of its members on the state and national level as well as throughout the SUNY system.

Source: The Student Assembly of the State University of New York

Warnings of Hackers Controlling Cars Lead to Growing Safety Concerns

Donald Trump Visits the U.S.-Mexico Border

Criminal Probe Sought Over Hillary Clinton's Email Account

The Justice Department has received a referral to open a criminal investigation into whether government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account that Hillary Clinton used as Secretary of State, NBC News confirms.

The request, first reported by the New York Times, was made by inspectors general for the State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence combing through Clinton's private emails.

They made the request after finding potentially hundreds of classified emails among a small sample of some 55,000 pages of emails contained on Clinton's private email server, which was located inside her New York home.

The Justice Department has not yet decided whether it would open an investigation, the source said.

The State Department declined to comment on the request.

Sandra Bland Death Ruled a Suicide by Hanging, Texas Prosecutor Says

Medical examiners ruled the death of Sandra Bland a suicide by hanging, and the autopsy uncovered no evidence of a violent struggle, a Texas prosecutor said Thursday.

Warren Diepraam, the first assistant district attorney of Waller County, released the findings at a press conference. He said prosecutors had "full faith" in the state forensics agency that conducted the autopsy. 

Full article available here: Bland's Death Ruled a Suicide 

Security Worries Delay Start of Greece’s New Bailout Talks

Reuters, 24/07 14:40 CET

By Francesco Guarascio and Lefteris Papadimas

BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) – Talks on tying up a new bailout deal for Greece failed to start on Friday as had been expected, with officials blaming security worries for delaying the negotiations with international creditors who are detested by many Greeks.

Greek government officials had said this week that the talks on the third bailout programme worth up to 86 billion euros (£60.8 billion) would start in Athens on Friday.

But representatives of Greece’s creditor institutions – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and IMF – said they cannot begin until the right location is found, given the talks’ sensitivity and the wide public anger about austerity policies imposed under the first two bailouts.

“There are some logistical issues to solve, notably security-wise,” a European Commission official said. “Several options are on the table,” the official said, without giving more details.

The Greek parliament has already approved two packages of reform measures, a prerequisite for starting the formal negotiations to hammer out details of the new bailout.

However, another source close to the talks said Greece had been asked to do more on reforms before top international officials could come to Athens.

The government of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held five months of acrimonious talks with the creditors before they finally offered to start talks on a new bailout – and only after the government missed a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund and had to close local banks for three weeks.

Full article available here: Security Worries

Source: Euronews

U.S. Condemns ‘Horrific’ Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon

Reuters, 24/07 15:19 CET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday condemned Boko Haram suicide attacks in Cameroon and Nigeria as “horrific and indiscriminate” and deplored the militant group’s use of children as bombers.

Multiple bomb blasts at two bus stations in Gombe, Nigeria, killed 37 people on Wednesday, while two suicide bomb attacks killed at least 13 people in northern Cameroon.

The United States “strongly condemns the horrific and indiscriminate suicide attacks,” the State Department said.

“Boko Haram’s unconscionable use of children as suicide bombers and indiscriminate targeting of men, women and children highlights the group’s senseless brutality,” State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement.

Full article available here: U.S. Condems Attack 

Source: Euronews

Turkish Airstrikes in Syria Could Signal New Role in Fight Against ISIL

By Seamus Kearney

Source: Euronews

Dozens of African Migrants Feared Drowned Off Libya

Source: Euronews

Green Light for World’s First Malaria Vaccine

By Seamus Kearney

Source: Euronews

Former Prison Commandant Given 20 years for Crimes Against Humanity

Source: Euronews

Alternative Iran Deal ‘A Fantasy’, Kerry Tells Congress

Source: Euronews

Vincent Lambert Case Sparks Fresh Debate on Right-to-Die in France

Source: Euronews

French MPs Defend Controversial Visit to Crimea

Source: Euronews

Ukrainians Killed in Coach Crash in Poland

Source: Euronews

Thursday, July 23, 2015

White House Press Briefing

President Obama Surprises Guests at the "Beating the Odds" Summit

The First Lady Hosts the "Beating the Odds" Summit

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed more than 130 college-bound students from across the country to participate in the 2015 "Beating the Odds" Summit. The event focused on sharing tools and strategies to help more students successfully transition to college and complete the next level of their education.

Washington Journal: Debra Houry on Heroin Use in the U.S.

Debra Houry with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discusses the CDC’s recent report on heroin use in the U.S. and what the federal government, states, and health care providers can do to address the issue.

Video link: Debra Houry 

Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) briefed reporters and responded to questions on her party’s legislative agenda.

Video link: HML Nancy Pelosi 

Source: C-Span

Medical Mystery Grounds United Jet

Shortly after takeoff, several passengers on an L.A.-bound flight reported feeling ill, some losing consciousness.

Trailblazers in Black History: Phillis Wheatley

Today in History: July 23rd

Politics in Action: H.R. 3009

H.R. 3009  – Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act
(Rep. Hunter, R-CA, and 44 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3009.  This bill fails to offer comprehensive reforms needed to fix the Nation's broken immigration laws, undermines current Administration efforts to remove the most dangerous convicted criminals and to work collaboratively with State and local law enforcement agencies, and threatens the civil rights of all Americans by authorizing State and local officials to collect information regarding any private citizen's immigration status, at any time, for any reason, and without justification.

The Administration continues to believe that it is critical to fix the Nation's broken immigration system through comprehensive commonsense legislation that builds on existing efforts to strengthen border security, cracks down on employers hiring undocumented workers, streamlines legal immigration, and offers an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to get right with the law if they pass background checks, contribute to the Nation's economy by paying taxes, and go to the back of the line.  While the Senate passed comprehensive legislation with strong bipartisan support over two years ago that would do just that, the House of Representatives failed to take any action.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, that legislation would also grow the Nation's economy by 5.4 percent and reduce Federal deficits by nearly $850 billion over 20 years.  The Administration continues to urge the Congress to address all of the problems with the Nation's broken immigration system and take up commonsense legislation that will offer meaningful solutions to those problems.

The Administration also believes the most effective way to enhance public safety is through sensible and effective policies that focus enforcement resources on the most significant public safety threats.  The Administration has put in place new enforcement priorities that do just that, focusing limited resources on the worst offenders – national security threats, convicted criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers.  The effectiveness of these new priorities depends on collaboration between Federal, State, and local law enforcement.  Every day, the Federal government fosters State and local collaboration through a variety of mechanisms, including policies, programs, and joint task forces.  The Department of Homeland Security's Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) enables Federal immigration enforcement to work with State and local law enforcement to take custody of individuals who are enforcement priorities, including public safety and national security threats, before those individuals are released into communities.  PEP is a balanced, commonsense approach to enforcing the Nation's immigration laws.  It replaced the Secure Communities program, which, by establishing a “one-size-fits-all” approach to State and local cooperation with Federal immigration enforcement officials, discouraged some localities from turning over dangerous individuals to DHS custody.  Secure Communities was embroiled in litigation and widely criticized for undermining State and local community policing efforts.  PEP builds collaboration between Federal, State, and local law enforcement that allows for the most effective enforcement while enhancing community policing and trust.  The Congress should give PEP a chance to work, instead of displacing that collaborative approach—which prioritizes the worst offenders—with the coercive approach of this bill, which makes no such differentiation.

Finally, the bill would condition Federal money on State and local governments allowing their law enforcement officials to gather citizenship and immigration status information from any person at any time for any reason.  The Administration believes that such blanket authority would threaten the civil rights of all Americans, lead to mistrust between communities and State and local law enforcement agencies, and impede efforts to safely, fairly, and effectively enforce the Nation's immigration laws. 

If the President were presented with H.R. 3009, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.