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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘immigration reform’

Obama’s Friday Press Conf: Threats, Emb. Closures Insignificant

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Before leaving on a nine-day vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, U.S. President Barack Obama held a 53-minute long press conference on Friday, August 9.

The president spent his entire introductory remarks in his first solo press conference since late April, on proposed changes to the government’s surveillance laws.

The four specific steps he laid out were ones intended to mollify outrage both from the American people and U.S. allies to issues of eavesdropping and other forms of privacy invasion raised in the wake of damaging security leaks by Edward Snowden about secret U.S. government mass surveillance programs to the press.

Those four steps include amending the relevant portion of the Patriot Act, provide oversight to the judges who are tasked with authorizing the specific surveillance programs, increasing transparency regarding the different programs, including creating a website “hub” which will allow U.S. citizens and our allies to better understand the programs, and creating an outside panel of experts to review the entire enterprise to ensure that the U.S. government can maintain the trust of the people and our allies.  This review panel will be required to submit an initial report in 60 days and a final report by the end of the calendar year.

While he remained even-keeled throughout most of his ten minute presentation, the president allowed himself a few jabs at countries who have been harshly critical of the U.S. in the wake of the Snowden leaks.

It’s true we have significant capabilities. What’s also true is we show a restraint that many governments around the world don’t even think to do, refuse to show. That includes, by the way, some of America’s most vocal critics. We shouldn’t forget the difference between the ability of our government to collect information online, under strict guidelines and for narrow purposes, and the willingness of some other governments to throw their own citizens in prison for what they say online.

The president concluded his prepared remarks by praising domestic critics of the surveillance programs, going so far as saying, “our critics are also our patriots.”  But in responding to one of the reporters called on who queried how far this magnanimous position extended, the president made crystal clear, “No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.”

Of the questions asked by reporters of the president, the majority dealt with some aspect of the Snowden/Russian relations/surveillance review issues, two dealt with healthcare, one was about the next Federal Reserve chairman, one was on immigration reform, one was whether the U.S. is going to capture and punish the people who attacked the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, and one was whether al Qaeda has actually been “decimated.”

In other words, it apparently was of only minor significance that an unprecedented shuttering of the official face, presence and voice of America across a vast swath of the globe was of merely minor significance to the entire White House press corps as well as to the president of the United States.  No one asked – or was permitted to ask – what exactly led to the closure of the government buildings or when they were expected to re-open.

However, after the press conference ended, the State Department issued a statement that 18 of the 19 embassies and consulates which have been closed for a week will reopen on Sunday or Monday.  The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed, and almost all U.S. government personnel were ordered to leave Yemen last Tuesday because of the potential for terrorist attacks from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In addition, the U.S. embassy in Lahore, Pakistan, “which closed yesterday due to a separate credible threat to that facility, will also remain closed.”

You’d think there would have been more of a focus on the real, ongoing terrorist threats to the United States than on, say, who will be the next Federal Reserve chairman or even on immigration reform, neither one of which threatens to murder, maim and savage Americans in the immediate future.

 

Senate Passes Immigration Bill, Provisions for Camp Counselors

Friday, June 28th, 2013

The immigration overhaul passed in the U.S. Senate includes provisions that protect a visa program used by Jewish summer camps and that makes permanent a law that facilitates immigration for victims of religious persecution.

The bipartisan bill passed Thursday by the Senate, 68-32, creates a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States.

A broad array of Jewish groups supported the reforms, and lavished praise on its passage, although its fate in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives is uncertain.

“The bill contains priorities the Reform Jewish Movement has long championed, including a pathway to citizenship, legal avenues for future flow of immigrants, enhanced ways for families to be reunited, and important protections for workers,” Rachel Laser, the deputy director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, said in a statement.

Other groups praising the bill included the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Bend the Arc.

Provisions in earlier versions of the bill aimed at preventing abuse of immigrant workers included regulatory changes that religious groups feared would make onerous the hiring of temporary overseas workers.

Jewish groups bring in summer camp counselors, shlichim — Israeli emissaries — and other workers through the J-1 visa program.

The Reform movement and JCPA, the umbrella body for public policy groups, joined other faith-based groups in lobbying senators to modify the proposed changes so they would not onerously affect hiring through J-1.

Also included was language that makes permanent the Lautenberg Amendment, the law first passed in 1989 and initiated by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) that loosens tough refugee status standards for designated persecuted religious minorities.

As it stands, the law must be renewed with each annual budget; the new language in the Senate bill would grant the president discretion to apply it on an as-needed basis.

The law helped facilitate the exit of hundreds of thousand Soviet and Iranian Jews among other minorities. HIAS, which led the bid to make Lautenberg’s language permanent, said it was a fitting tribute to the senator, who died earlier this month.

“If enacted into law, this bill would preserve Senator Lautenberg’s legacy of protecting persecuted religious minorities while creating new opportunities for other persecuted groups—with an emphasis on those seeking religious freedom—to receive protection,” HIAS said in a statement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/senate-passes-immigration-bill-provisions-for-camp-counselors/2013/06/28/

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