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Archive for November 21st, 2014

President Obama Remarks to the Nation on Immigration

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on President Obama Remarks to the Nation on Immigration

Cross Hall

8:01 P.M. EST

President Barack Obama: My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken — and everybody knows it.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.

It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President –- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally. And let’s be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.

Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -– millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.

That’s the real amnesty –- leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability –- a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.

I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue. That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this. Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose –- a higher purpose.

Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight. But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home. Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship.

I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw deal for over a decade. I hear these concerns. But that’s not what these steps would do. Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.

Because for all the back and forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It’s about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works together to keep them together?

Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?

That’s what this debate is all about. We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration. We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears. I know the politics of this issue are tough. But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it.

Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids. I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers. I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love.

These people –- our neighbors, our classmates, our friends –- they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn’t speak any English. She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and she became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mom cleaned other people’s homes. They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn’t love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant –- so she applied behind their back and got in. Still, she mostly lived in the shadows –- until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -– that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless this country we love.

Leading Civil Rights Groups Say Bold Executive Action on Immigration Will Benefit Every Community

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on Leading Civil Rights Groups Say Bold Executive Action on Immigration Will Benefit Every Community

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, 16 civil rights groups representing a diverse coalition of communities joined together to support President Obama’s decision to use an executive order to address immigration. The president’s pending executive action is expected to provide millions of aspiring Americans from all walks of life with relief from unnecessary deportations.

National leaders from groups including Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Define American, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mi Familia Vota, MomsRising, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Action Network, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), the National Urban League, NCLR (National Council of La Raza), Rock the Vote and Voto Latino united behind the upcoming executive order, noting that every community has been affected by the nation’s chaotic broken immigration system and stands to benefit from a bold action from the president.

“The NAACP strongly supports the rights of immigrants and has called for comprehensive immigration reform for decades. We applaud President Obama for using his executive power to begin the process of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. The depth of the need for this type of decisive action by the president is also matched by the diversity of the problem. We believe that it is crucial to provide documentation for millions of immigrants that live in our country and contribute to our society,” said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP. “From Haiti to Honduras, from Senegal to St. Croix, family members hoping to reunite with loved ones and refugees working to build a new life in the United States deserve our attention. The NAACP remains committed to advocating on behalf of Americans and those seeking legal citizenship to establish an immigration system that protects all U.S. workers and guarantees the safety and security of our nation without compromising fundamental civil rights, human rights and civil liberties. This executive order is a critical step on the road to comprehensive immigration reform.”

“The faces and stories of Asian immigrants are often left out of the national immigration conversation, but Asian American families face similar hardships caused by our broken immigration system as other immigrant groups,” said Mee Moua, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice |  AAJC. “Nearly 1.3 million Asian Americans are undocumented. More than 250,000 Asian Americans have been deported in the past six years; many are refugees. More than 1.8 million people from Asian countries are waiting decades for a family-sponsored visa to join with loved ones in the United States. The president can provide us temporary relief and we call on him to do what Congress has failed to do: keep families together.”

“I’ve been pledging allegiance since middle school to an American flag and government that have yet to recognize me, possibly until this very day,” said Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, filmmaker (“Documented”) and founder of Define American. “While this step to ensure we can live with less fear is wonderful, the real shift cannot happen with any piece of legislation—it must come from a shift in culture. It must come from responsible journalism and a change in the way we view immigrants as a nation.”

“Millions of undocumented immigrants who have been waiting in perpetual fear for far too long will finally have relief thanks to the strong leadership of President Obama,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “Administrative relief from deportation for thousands of LGBT people who want nothing more than pursuing happiness and living openly, honestly and without fear of deportation is an important interim step. It’s now up to Congress to do its job and pass comprehensive, lasting immigration reforms.”

“We applaud President Obama’s decision to provide immigration relief. For too long, undocumented immigrants have suffered wage theft, sexual harassment, death and injury on the job because unscrupulous employers use their legal status to exploit them,” said Hector E. Sanchez, Executive Director of LCLAA and Chair of NHLA. “This historic announcement could give millions of undocumented Latinos a voice on the job and a life without the fear of deportation. While this executive order will not fix our broken immigration system, it is the right response from the president until Congress acts on a sensible permanent solution.”

“Immigration reform is a defining civil and human rights issue of our time and it is crystal clear that this is not only a Latino issue: Immigration reform is an American issue. We applaud the President’s willingness to act where Congress has failed us all.  We stand behind this decision to help build a nation that’s as good as its ideals,” said Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“With these provisions, the president has used his executive authority for administrative relief. The president has changed the lives of millions of people,” said Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director, LULAC. “Students can go to school without fear that their parents will be deported and parents can go to work without fear of being separated from their families. More young people will be allowed to work legally and contribute to the only country they know as home. By taking executive action, the president has answered the will of the American people.  Today’s executive order not only does right by the families of countless Latinos, it will also serve to benefit our economy.”

“President Ronald Reagan saw the value of immigrants and gave me a chance to become the proud citizen of the United States that I am today,” said Ben Monterroso, Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota. “I stand before you as someone who did not give up hope, and I don’t want you to give up hope. We will continue fighting, with all our might, in the halls of Congress and at the election polls until we get a Congress that will fight for us. Don’t give up hope and don’t give up the fight. This is our first historic step in the march toward immigration reform.”

“Fixing immigration is not an option—it is a necessity. The United States has richly benefited from the influence and industry of immigrants across the globe who dared to dream of a better life within its borders. Now, President Obama has shown the courage to address the throbbing issue of immigration reform responsibly and surgically. By doing so, he will preserve the sanctity of family and invest in our economy. President Obama’s courageous step forward on immigration reform paves the way for a more just economic system that will help various marginalized communities, including African Americans, find their footing in the American economy and in American society,” Janai S. Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

“The executive action by the president is a huge step forward for the civil and human rights movement that wants to see people treated in a humane but thought-out manner. This is a constructive way to deal with a human problem in which everyone wins. The president had no choice but to do what Congress has failed to do and that is to move forward on this issue,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, President, National Action Network.

“The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women’s Roundtable Public Policy Network (BWR) stand united with these organizations in urging President Obama to take immediate action on immigration. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the American thing to do,” said Melanie L. Campbell, President and CEO, NCBCP, and convener, BWR. “For those of you who don’t think immigration impacts the African American community, think about the fact that one-fourth of the Black population in New York, Boston and Miami are foreign-born and more than three million U.S. immigrants are of African descent. Also, repairing the broken immigration system will stop enabling employers to exploit immigrant and African American workers, which will aid in the fight for jobs with livable wages.”

“As an overarching civil rights, human rights and economic empowerment issue, immigration is of great concern to the National Urban League,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “In the absence of congressional action to pass a bipartisan bill on immigration, we fully support President Obama’s planned—and precedented—executive order as one step toward fixing a broken system and affording millions of workers the legal protections they need to avoid exploitation and human rights violations. Immigration is an issue that impacts all of us, and while we welcome the president’s action, we implore Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that will offer American workers at every level of the workplace their rights, fair wages and full labor market mobility.”

“The array of leaders at today’s event demonstrates that there is broad support for the president to take actions to help working and often vulnerable families and communities, including on immigration,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR. “All those involved in this issue should heed this call for unity and support the president’s leadership to remedy a broken immigration system on behalf of our country. And the House Republican leadership should use this moment to at long last move forward on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

“Immigration reform is an American issue, and one that greatly impacts the lives of young people in our country,” said Heather Smith, Chairwoman, Rock the Vote. “The Millennial Generation is the largest, and most diverse, in our nation’s history, and fixing our broken immigration system is consistently a top issue of concern for these young voters. We are encouraged by the President’s pending executive actions, and will continue to call for comprehensive immigration reform on behalf of young Americans.”

“We recognize the significance of the president’s pending executive action on immigration reform. However, a permanent solution can only come from Congress. We call on congressional leaders to lay aside partisan differences and come together immediately to pass comprehensive reform on behalf of all Americans,” said María Teresa Kumar, President and CEO, Voto Latino.

To watch today’s press conference, click here.

FACT SHEET: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on FACT SHEET: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive actions will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.  Acting within his legal authority, the President is taking an important step to fix our broken immigration system.

These executive actions crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the US without fear of deportation.

These are commonsense steps, but only Congress can finish the job. As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill—like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago—that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.

According to an analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the President’s executive actions on immigration would boost economic output by an estimated 0.4 to 0.9 percent over ten years, corresponding to increases in GDP of $90 billion to $210 billion in 2024.

  • The President’s actions will grow the economy by increasing the productivity of all American workers. These actions will increase the productivity of American workers, in part by allowing undocumented workers to come out of the shadows and find jobs that better match their skills and potential. This shift of workers across occupations will also allow more native workers to specialize in the tasks best suited to their abilities. These effects are likely to lead to wage increases for all workers—immigrants and natives alike. In addition, by encouraging high-skilled immigration, these actions will boost the rate of innovation and patenting in the American economy, further increasing the productivity of the American workforce.
  • The President’s actions will increase the size of the American workforce. CEA estimates that the economy will also grow thanks to an expansion of the American labor force by nearly150,000 people over 10 years as a result of the President’s executive actions.
  • Average wages for all workers, both U.S.-born and immigrant, will increase. Increases in productivity and innovation caused by the President’s actions will translate into higher wages for all types of workers. CEA estimates that by 2024 annual wages for native workers will rise 0.3 percent, or approximately $170 in today’s dollars. CEA also estimates that the President’s actions would neither increase nor decrease the likelihood of employment for native workers.
  • A bigger economy will reduce the deficit. As the economy grows so do tax revenues, requiring the government to borrow less to finance government operations. This reduced borrowing translates into reduced spending on interest payments by the government, thus reducing overall government spending—and shrinking the deficit. CEA’s estimate of the higher economic growth associated with executive action on immigration would translate into reductions in the Federal deficit by $25 billion in 2024.

At the same time, the President’s executive actions will expand the country’s tax base by millions of people and billions of dollars.  Individuals potentially eligible for deferred action under the President’s executive actions are in the country today – and have been for many years.  They provide for their families, just like all American citizens.  Many are already in the workforce and contributing Federal, State, and local taxes.  But roughly two-thirds of them don’t pay taxes today.  The President is changing that, ensuring that these individuals have the opportunity to apply for a work authorization and pay taxes.  By allowing those eligible for deferred action to work in this country, both workers and employers will be able to come out from the shadows and contribute payroll taxes, just like all American citizens.

To be sure, the economic benefits of these actions are not as strong as those under the bipartisan legislation that passed in the Senate.  If Congress passes that bill, we will be able to fully realize the economic benefits of commonsense immigration reform.  Independent studies have affirmed that commonsense immigration reform would significantly increase economic growth, shrink the deficit, and boost wages for native-born U.S. workers.

  • Commonsense immigration reform would strengthen the overall economy and grow U.S. GDP. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that enacting the Senate immigration reform bill would increase real GDP relative to current law projections by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4 percent in 2033 – an increase of roughly $700 billion and $1.4 trillion, respectively, in today’s dollars.  According to independent estimates, improvements to the agricultural visa program alone would almost immediately increase GDP by $2 billion.
  • Commonsense immigration reform would increase wages and productivity for American workers. According to CBO and other independent studies, immigration reform would increase overall U.S. productivity, resulting in higher wages.  CBO estimates that real wages would be 0.5 percent higher in 2033 — the equivalent to an additional $250 of income for the median American household — as a result of enacting the Senate bill.  The Senate bill would raise the “wage floor” for all workers—particularly in industries where employers pay undocumented workers low wages under the table and thus drive down the wages of all workers.
  • Commonsense immigration reform would reduce the federal deficit and strengthen Social Security. According to CBO, the additional taxes paid by new and legalizing immigrants under the Senate bill would reduce the federal budget deficit by nearly $850 billion over the next 20 years.  The independent Social Security Administration (SSA) Actuary estimates that the Senate bill would add nearly $300 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund over the next decade and would improve Social Security’s finances over the long run, extending Social Security solvency by two years.

Source: whitehouse.gov

Ferguson Declared State of Emergency

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on Ferguson Declared State of Emergency
From the National Urban League

“The killing of Michael Brown has forever left a void in the hearts and lives of his parents, family and friends, who lost a son and a loved one much too soon.  The killing of Michael Brown has also brought to light many of the unfortunate blemishes – criminal justice disparities, volatile police-community relations, unemployment and economic inequities – that tarnish our great nation and that prevent us from being the best of whom we can be.

This tragedy has exposed the persistent state of emergency that grips not only Ferguson, but our nation as a whole.  We have a state of emergency tied to the unjust killings of Black people and the dismal economic conditions of urban communities across America, where hope is often replaced by fear and where, for many, the American Dream has become a figment of yesteryear.

Whether the grand jury decides to indict Officer Darren Wilson, we must remain ever-vigilant in our quest for and journey toward accountability, justice, and reform.  We will absolutely continue to demand justice for Michael Brown and his family throughout this process.  We must also remain committed to restoring hope, jobs and safety to the communities that need it most.  As a former mayor, I keenly understand that the function of government is to uphold the rights of citizens in every town, city, and state.  The declared state of emergency in Ferguson and the surrounding St. Louis area must serve to protect both the lives and well-being of citizens and their rights to speak & assemble peacefully.

Anything less is another injustice.”

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge’s Statement on President Barack Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge’s Statement on President Barack Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

WASHINGTON, DC — Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Marcia L. Fudge released the following statement on President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration:

“I applaud the President for taking this courageous first step to address the immigration crisis in this country. It is the right thing to do – for immigrant families and for the nation – and signifies this Administration’s commitment to the lawful, fair, and humane treatment of America’s immigrants.

“This is the right time for action. The President’s plan will secure our border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the US without fear of deportation. These are all common sense steps that will continue moving our nation forward.

“I wholeheartedly support the President’s decision to move ahead with this action. He has the authority, and I can only hope our Republican colleagues will act on immigration if they disagree with his action.”

Discrimination Lawsuit in MD Against Minority Corporate Executive

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on Discrimination Lawsuit in MD Against Minority Corporate Executive

Lawsuit in Montgomery County, Maryland involving joint venture of J.P. Morgan and First Data Corporation seek to address discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation against minority corporate executive

Attorney William C. Johnson, Jr. exposes discrimination, bias and Civil Rights violations at Merchant Link, LLC, a joint venture of J.P. Morgan and First-Data Corporation

Rockville, MD (BlackNews.com) — A lawsuit filed before the Montgomery County Commission on Human Rights, Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings in Rockville, Maryland is asking the Court to address common discriminatory practices that has plagued corporate America and undermined the achievements of minorities in the workplace. The action is denouncing the practice of “under paying minorities” whereby minorities are underpaid relative to their white colleagues and “retaliation” whereby minorities are penalized for complaining about being underpaid. The proliferation of these acts has caused a substantial increase in the number of wrongful terminations in the African-American community as compared to non-minority communities.

The employers executive management is typically comprised of white males. Social pressures and the economics of diversity have forced the “good ole boys network” to allow capable women and minorities to receive opportunities to perform at the upper echelons of corporate America. However, the ability and power to stay in the top positions are still subject to the bias of white males.

What is most interesting about the lawsuit is its attempt to identify the “white male mindset” and their belief minorities are encroaching upon their territory. Recognizing the inability of minorities to maintain executive level positions, the lawsuit notes that aggressive employment practices innately attaches itself to those individuals historically deemed to be “outsiders.” Wrongful terminations of minorities, due to its pretext excuses, are inherently harder to prosecute in the Courts. Considering the fact the minority community has been the beneficiary of the push for diversity in recent years, it goes without saying they are predisposed to wrongful terminations by their employers.

While addressing the “diversity dilemma” garners the attention of the press and legislature, the failure to address wrongful terminations will allow this problem to persist. With employment being the cornerstone of our society and economy, the protection of the Civil Rights of minorities become paramount to protections of our way of life.
About the Law Offices of William Johnson, LLC
Law Offices of William Johnson, LLC is a Civil Rights and Consumer Protection firm practicing in the jurisdictions of Maryland and Washington, D.C. The firm typically provides litigation and transactional advice to businesses and individuals.

Youth Guidance Receives $300,000 Grant from Thrive Foundation for Youth

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on Youth Guidance Receives $300,000 Grant from Thrive Foundation for Youth

Award will support organization’s work in positive youth development field

CHICAGO, IL – Youth Guidance has been awarded a $300,000 grant by the Thrive Foundation for Youth to support the agency’s mission of helping underserved youth ages 10-18 reach their full potential.  Youth Guidance was selected, along with seven other youth-serving organizations from around the U.S., based on its proven track record of directly impacting youth in the communities it serves. The two-year, unrestricted grant will support the agency’s work in the field of positive youth development.

Established in 1924, Youth Guidance has an extensive history of serving inner-city areas where the challenges of community violence and academic failure among youth are most pressing.  The agency creates and implements school-based programs that enable at-risk youth to overcome obstacles, focus on their education and, ultimately, graduate with a meaningful plan for a successful life.  Youth Guidance’s programs offer a unique blend of academic support, social and emotional outreach and engagement with parents and families.

“We are honored to partner with the Thrive Foundation for Youth and with our fellow grantees, and are thankful for Thrive’s generosity,” said Chief Executive Officer Michelle Adler Morrison. “Together, we can amplify the impact of our work, learn from each other and ultimately touch the lives of more young people in need.”

Thrive selected grantees whose work emphasizes establishing relationships between caring, compassionate adults and individual youth. “At the heart of our work is the belief that thriving is based on achieving the optimum rather than on the avoidance of negative outcomes,” said Nicole Taylor, President and CEO of the Thrive Foundation for Youth. “We selected Youth Guidance because their model has a proven record of success, and we are pleased to help deepen their transformative programs serving the young people of Chicago. We are confident that Youth Guidance will make valuable contributions to our grantee cohort as we learn from and support the programming and scaling efforts they have established.”

Collectively, Thrive’s new grantees will impact the lives of 15,000 youth living in low-income communities throughout the United States. The grant period will run from 2014-2016.  Thrive plans to select an additional grantee cohort in 2015.

More about Thrive: Founded in 1995 by Silicon Valley investor Bob King and his wife Dottie, the Thrive Foundation for Youth supports young people during pivotal years of their lives – ages 10 to 18 – in reaching their full potential.  Thrive’s mission is to guide disadvantaged youth to their full potential by strengthening the connection and impact of caring adults in their lives. Thrive believes in the combined power of applied research and on-the ground practice to make tangible difference in the lives of young people. Our scientific research is dedicated to answering the question: “What helps a young person to thrive?” Our active partnerships with youth-serving organizations are dedicated to putting that knowledge into practice, and to changing as many lives as possible throughout the country.  For more information, visit www.Thrivefoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

More about Youth Guidance: Founded in 1924, Youth Guidance is a leader in outcomes-driven, school-based programs and capacity-building initiatives.  The Chicago-based, nonprofit currently services 14,000 underserved youth in more than 75 public and charter schools in Chicago through a portfolio of comprehensive programs.  The agency’s specific and strategically developed delivery areas are Community & After-School, Counseling & Prevention, and Youth Workforce Development. Ninety percent of students served are low income. More than 95% are African American and Hispanic/Latino. For more information, call 312-253-4900 or visit http://www.youth-guidance.org.

Chicago Human Rhythm Project Presents Winter Tap Jamboree February 13 – 15

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on Chicago Human Rhythm Project Presents Winter Tap Jamboree February 13 – 15
Nicholas Young
The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), celebrating 25 years as the nation’s premier presenter of American tap dance and international contemporary percussive arts, welcomes students and performers to its annual Winter Tap JAMboree February 13-15, 2015, featuring master classes, auditions for the Tap Scholar Program and Nicholas Young’s Institute For The Rhythmic Arts (IFTRA), a panel discussion and several Tap JAMs at the American Rhythm Center, Chicago’s collaborative arts space in the historic Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 300, Chicago.

Winter Tap JAMboree faculty and schedule

Among those teaching classes are guests Cartier Williams, a leading tap choreographer and protégé of Savion Glover, and Nicholas Young, who received a 2014 New York Dance and Performance Award (“Bessie”) for Outstanding Music Composition, along with some of Chicago’s finest, including CHRP Founder/Director Lane Alexander-who recently received a Tap Legacy Award while performing with Rhapsody in Taps in Los Angeles-and Bril Barrett, Martin Bronson, Zada Cheeks, Matt Crowle, Starinah Dixon, Nico Rubio and hip-hop/break dancer Monty Rezell.

The weekend opens Friday, February 13 with a Welcome Party at 7 p.m., followed by a Tap JAM hosted by M.A.D.D. Rhythms. Classes for teens and adults take place Saturday, February 14 from 10 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. and Sunday, February 15 from 10 a.m.-3:50 p.m. Faculty members will participate in a panel discussion on a topic to be determined Saturday, February 14 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. The weekend concludes with a Tap JAM Sunday, February 15 from 4 to 5 p.m.

Tap Scholarship Auditions and IFTRA Auditions

CHRP is offering up to $10,000 in tuition awards to dancers between the ages of 12 and 18 who compete in its annual Tap Scholarship Auditions Saturday, February 14 at 7 p.m. These scholarships will make it possible for deserving young tap dancers to attend CHRP’s 25th Anniversary Rhythm World, the preeminent festival of American tap, taking place July 6-August 2, 2015, with a faculty of more than 25 master teachers/performers from around the globe. Participants must register for at least one Tap JAMboree class.

On Sunday, February 15, students may audition for Nicholas Young’s Institute For The Rhythmic Arts (IFTRA), returning to Rhythm World after its debut in 2014. IFTRA is a three-week intensive integrating foot, hand and body percussion led by STOMP alumnus and tap dancer extraordinaire Nicholas Young, master percussionists John Angeles and Doug Feig, CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander, percussive artist Jumaane Taylor and more.

Master classes are $20 per class plus a $15 registration fee. Tap Scholarship Audition registration is $15; IFTRA Audition registration is $15. To register, visit chicagotap.org. The Tap JAMs on Friday, February 13 and Sunday, February 15 and the panel discussion on Saturday, February 14 are free to registrants. All events take place at the American Rhythm Center, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 300, Chicago. For information and registration, visit chicagotap.org/Performance-Education-Detail-Festival/winter-tap-jamboree-2015.aspx

Left photo: Cartier Williams, photo by Oliver Sarkis

Right photo: Nicholas Young, photo by Guido Mandozzi


CHRP’s Winter Tap JAMboree is supported by the Illinois Arts Council and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE). CHRP’s 25th Anniversary Season is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and General Mills Foundation. CHRP is supported by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Target, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Arlen and Elaine Cohen Rubin Charitable Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, The Jeanette & Jerome Cohen Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council Agency, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Northern Trust, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, L&L Hardwood Flooring, The Service Club of Chicago and generous individual donors.

Chicago Human Rhythm Project

Founded in 1990,  Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) builds community by presenting American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts in world-class and innovative performance, education and community outreach programs. During the last 22 years, CHRP has produced multiple community-based collaborations involving shared revenue programs, concerts and touring opportunities, including:
  • annual National Tap Dance Day concerts, featuring an array of tap and percussive dance artists
  • a shared revenue program designed to assist Chicago’s budding tap community to build capacity through audience development, created in 2001
  • Thanks 4 Giving, another innovative shared revenue program launched in 2005 as part of its annual Global Rhythms concerts at the Harris Theater, through which CHRP has partnered with more than 100 Chicago-based nonprofits to raise funds for a wide variety of service agencies
  • participation in the 5th Anniversary Beijing International Dance Festival, assembling 70 artists to represent the United States
  • establishment of the American Rhythm Center (ARC), providing a shared, affordable and sustainable education, rehearsal and administrative facility for several leading Chicago arts organizations in the historic Fine Arts Building
  • curating the first ever, full-length performance of concert tap dance on a main stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on December 7, 2012

CHRP’s vision is to establish the first global center for American tap and percussive arts, creating a complete ecosystem of education, performance, creation and community in a state-of-the-art facility uniting generations of diverse artists and the public.

Madigan: Two Arrests in Child Pornography Operation

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on Madigan: Two Arrests in Child Pornography Operation

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced charges today against two men on multiple counts of possessing, reproducing and disseminating child pornography as part of “Operation Glass House,” her statewide initiative to apprehend the most active offenders who download and trade child pornography online.

Earlier today, Madigan’s investigators and the Vandalia Police Department arrested Ryan J. Koontz, 34, after executing a search warrant at his Vandalia home in the 500 block of South Cypress Street. Koontz was charged in Fayette County with two counts of distribution of child pornography, a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison, and eight counts of possession of child pornography, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to seven years in prison. Bond was set Wednesday at $300,000.

On Tuesday, Christopher L. Cook, 26, was arrested after investigators with Madigan’s office and the Vandalia Police Department executed a search warrant at his Centralia home in the 600 block of North Walnut Street. Cook was charged in Marion County with five counts of distribution of child pornography, a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison, and nine counts of possession of child pornography, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to seven years in prison. Bond was set Wednesday at $150,000.

“Online child pornography is a horrific crime that victimizes children each time an image is downloaded or traded,” Madigan said. “My office will continue to be relentless in tracking down and apprehending offenders who trade these horrific videos.”

The arrests bring to a total of 73 for Operation Glass House, which Madigan launched in 2010 to investigate and arrest offenders trading child pornography online. The operation’s investigations are conducted by Madigan’s High Tech Crimes Bureau and have revealed a disturbing community of criminals who are trading and viewing extremely violent videos of children as young as infants being raped and abused.

Today’s operation was assisted by the Vandalia Police Department, and the Fayette County State’s Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.

“We’re happy to be a part of the Attorney General’s operation to get offenders like this off the streets,” said Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison. “We thank the Attorney General’s Office for their assistance and hope to partner together on future investigations.”

“I’m grateful for the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office and look forward to working with the office on future investigations,” said Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray.

Tuesday’s operation was assisted by the Centralia Police Department, and the Marion County State’s Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.

“We were pleased to work with the Attorney General’s High Tech Crimes Bureau. They completed a thorough investigation, and we will prosecute this offender to the full extent of the law,” said Marion County State’s Attorney Matthew Wilzbach.

“The Centralia Police Department is pleased that we could assist the Attorney General’s Office in the apprehension of a person involved with the distribution of child pornography,” said Centralia Police Chief Doug Krutsinger. “The Attorney General’s High Tech Crimes Bureau utilized Centralia’s police facility to investigate Christopher L. Cook and later arrest Cook on fourteen counts of child porn possession. The Centralia Police Department appreciates the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office to keep the Centralia area free from child pornography.”

In addition to Operation Glass House, Madigan leads the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Task Force investigates child exploitation crimes and trains local and county level law enforcement agencies throughout Illinois to do the same. Since 2006, Madigan’s ICAC task force has been involved in 855 arrests of sexual predators. The task force has also provided Internet safety training and education to more than 389,000 parents, teachers and students and more than 18,300 law enforcement professionals.

The public is reminded that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

New AARP Report: Brand Name Drug Prices Increasing Dramatically

Posted by Admin On November - 21 - 2014 Comments Off on New AARP Report: Brand Name Drug Prices Increasing Dramatically
AARP warns continuous rise in drug prices has wide-ranging implications

WASHINGTON, DC – Retail prices for brand name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans shot up by an average of nearly 13% in 2013, more than eight times faster than the 1.5% general inflation rate, according to a new AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) report released today. The report reveals the highest average annual price increase since AARP began tracking prescription drug prices in 2004.

“Higher brand name drug prices can increase health care premiums, deductibles, and other cost-sharing for everyone with health coverage, even for those who don’t take medications,” said AARP Executive Vice President for Policy, Strategy and International Affairs Debra Whitman. “If these price increases continue, we’ll likely see more people-particularly older people, who are often on fixed incomes-stop taking life-saving medications because they simply can’t afford them, leading to higher health care costs down the road.”
Average Brand Name Drug Prices vs General Inflation Rate by Year
Note: Calculations of the average annual brand name drug price change include the
227 drug products most widely used by older Americans (see Appendix A).
“The relentless rise in brand name drug prices also has implications for taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” said Whitman. “Higher government spending driven by large price increases eventually affects all Americans in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public programs, or both.”

Almost two-thirds of older Americans take three or more prescription drugs in a given year. For those who take three brand name prescription drugs on a regular basis, their annual cost of therapy would have been more than $8,800 during 2013-more than double the cost seen eight years earlier.

Additionally, increased prices for brand name medications lead to higher out-of-pocket costs for consumers who pay coinsurance, or a percentage of their drug costs, instead of a fixed dollar amount.

According to the AARP PPI report, policymakers should focus on exploring options that reduce the impact of increasing prescription drug prices. AARP continues to work with Congress to help lower prescription drug costs by requiring manufacturer rebates for drugs purchased by Medicare Part D low-income subsidy beneficiaries, improving the approval process for generic versions of biologic drugs, and giving Medicare the authority to negotiate prescription drug prices with drug makers.

Highlights of the Rx Price Watch Report
* The average annual retail price increase for widely used brand name prescription drugs was more than twice as high in 2013 (12.9%) as in 2006 (5.7%).
* In 2013, the average annual cost of one brand name medication used to treat a chronic health condition was nearly $3,000, compared with nearly $1,500 in 2006.
* Retail prices increased for 97% of the 227 brand name prescription drugs in the study’s market basket.
* Seven brand name drugs had average annual retail price increases of over 30% in 2013.

Top 7 drugs with retail price increases over 30% in 2013
% annual increase
Uroxatral 10mg tablet ER 197.5%
Actonel 150mg tablet 78.6%
Solaraze 3% gel 67%
Prandin 2mg tablet 38%
Lunesta 2mg tablet 34%
Aciphex 20mg tablet DR 32.2%
Welchol 625mg tablet 30.6%

“The rise in prescription drug prices negatively impacts consumers, insurers, and employers, as well as taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” said Leigh Purvis, Director of Health Services Research, AARP Public Policy Institute, and co-author of the report. “We need to find policy solutions that balance the need for pharmaceutical innovation with the need for improved health and affordability.”

Rx Price Watch Report Methodology
AARP’s Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the PRIME Institute at the University of Minnesota, developed a market basket of 227 brand name prescription drug products widely used by older Americans. Using data from the Truven Health MarketScan® Research Databases, the report analyzed retail price changes between 2006 and 2013 for the drug products in the market basket. The medications include products used to treat common and often chronic health conditions, including high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.
About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a bilingual news source. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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