Luz Maria Hernandez, Immigrant Rights Activist

My name is Luz Maria Hernandez. I am 75 years old.


My name is Luz Maria Hernandez. I am 75 years old. I am a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. It was my granddaughter who urged me to get involved in the immigration reform movement — and together, on September 12, we were arrested in Washington to demand Congress pass reform with a path to citizenship.

I was not afraid of facing arrest, because I face a much more real and desperate fear: missing out on the lives of my children. Although I’ve obtained my residency, my children have been waiting in Mexico for years to have their visas approved so that we might be reunited. Immigration reform is not about border security or jobs or “getting in a line” — it is about families who have been separated by deportations, or live each day dreading that, like me, they will be separated from their loved ones for years.

You have been a committed activist to the fight for immigration reform, and now I want to ask you to join us in shaping the next phase of the campaign by participating in a non-violent direct action training happening in your community. Together, our communities will make history for the rights and dignity of all immigrant families. Click here to join the below action. Send an RSVP email with your name, location, and the best number to reach you to my friend Grecia, a national field organizer.

Non-Violent Direct Action Training Saturday, October 26th, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm Seattle, WA

I will do whatever it takes to help those that suffer as my family has suffered, but I am only one person. That is why I am asking you to take action with me, to make a difference.

Stand with me.

Sí se puede,

Luz Maria Hernandez Wisconsinite

West Wing Week : 5/10/13 “I Dare You to Do Better” – YouTube

This week, the President made his fourth trip to Mexico, continued on to Costa Rica, spoke to the graduating class of 2013 at the Ohio State University, hosted the new President of South Korea, discussed hurricane preparedness, and kicked off a series of Jobs, Skills and Opportunity tours in the Lone Star State.

Julie Rodriguez, The White House

The White HouseBuenas Tardes,

Last week, the President embarked on his sixth trip to Latin America, traveling to both Mexico and Costa Rica. This trip was an important opportunity to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America. At the invitation of President Enrique Peña Nieto, the President traveled to Mexico City on May 2nd and 3rd to discuss the broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues that bind the United States and Mexico, including economic competitiveness, people-to-people connections, global and regional leadership, and citizen security.

To read the full joint statement, click here. The White House also released a fact sheet on the U.S. and Mexico’s partnership which underscores the bilateral relationship between both countries. Read it here. After giving a speech at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, President Obama traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, where he participated in a bilateral meeting with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla at Casa Amarilla.

President Obama Visits Costa Rica

President Barack Obama and President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica participate in a cultural event with Costa Rican youth at Casa Amarilla, San Jose, Costa Rica, May 3, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In his May 3rd meeting with the Presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, and the Prime Minister of Belize, President Obama discussed citizen security cooperation and the importance of building safe communities that contribute to a favorable business and investment climate, highlighting our comprehensive regional partnership to improve citizen security and our support for economic growth and development in Central America.

President Obama and President Chinchilla also participated in a joint press conference, as well as a working dinner. During the press conference, the President spoke about the friendship and economic ties between our two countries:

“Costa Rica shows the benefits of trade that is free and fair. Over the last few years, under the Central America Free Trade Agreement, our trade with Costa Rica has doubled, creating more jobs for people in both of our countries. Our partnerships are creating more opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including young people and women. As I told President Chinchilla, the United States will continue to be your partner as Costa Rica modernizes its economy so that you’re attracting more investment and creating even more trade and more jobs.”

Upon his return to Washington, President Obama published an Op-Ed in the Miami Herald and the Nuevo Herald about improving our partnership with Latin America. On Sunday, the President released a statement in honor of Cinco de Mayo in which he reflected upon his trip to the region and the need for common sense immigration reform:

“This week, I was proud to visit Mexico to reaffirm our vision for the Americas as a region of shared opportunity and prosperity.  I left even more convinced that we have historic opportunities to expand trade and make our economies even more competitive, so that we continue creating good jobs in both of our countries [. . .] I also emphasized the need to pass commonsense immigration reform that lives up to our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, including generations of Mexican Americans who have enriched our country [. . .] Cinco de Mayo reminds us that America’s diversity is America’s strength. Today, as we celebrate the contributions and history of Mexican Americans and Hispanics in America, let us celebrate the larger story of America and our unique immigrant heritage.”

This week we officially launched our “Mensaje Semanal de la Casa Blanca” featuring Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, on the President’s trip to Mexico and Costa Rica and the imperative to pass immigration reform this year.

Watch the video or download the audio here.

As always, please share with your networks and have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Julie Chavez Rodriguez Associate Director White House | Office of Public Engagement

Agency Updates

CMS Announces Opportunity to Apply for Marketplace Navigator Grants April 9, 2013 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of new funding to support Navigators in Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces. Navigators are individuals and entities that will provide unbiased information to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and public programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Court Approves Plan To Provide Comprehensive Services To ELL Students In Denver Public Schools April 16, 2013 A federal court in Denver approved a comprehensive consent decree between the Department of Justice, the Congress of Hispanic Educators (CHE), and the Denver Public Schools (DPS) that requires DPS to provide language services to the more than 28,000 English Language Learner (ELL) students enrolled in the district’s 170 schools. The consent decree is the product of compliance monitoring by the department and the CHE, and DPS’s recognition that the 1999 order no longer reflected the district’s own best practices for serving ELL students.

HHS releases blueprint to advance culturally and linguistically appropriate services in health and health care April 24, 2013 Health and Human Services (HHS) today released enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care – a blueprint to help organizations improve health care quality in serving our nation’s diverse communities.

Fact Sheet: Administration Partners with Industry to Get Service Members Credentialed for High-Demand Jobs April 29, 2013 At the White House Forum on Military Credentialing and Licensing, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the IT Training and Certification Partnership, a new public-private partnership that will enable thousands of service members to earn industry-recognized information technology (IT) certifications before they transition from military service. The Administration also announced a new grant program through the Department of Health and Human Services that will help veterans with health care experience pursue professional nursing careers and earn a nursing license.

Obama Administration Simplifies, Significantly Shortens Application For Health Insurance April 30, 2013 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that the application for health coverage has been simplified and significantly shortened. The application for individuals without health insurance has been reduced from twenty-one to three pages, and the application for families is reduced by two-thirds. The consumer friendly forms are much shorter than industry standards for health insurance applications today.

Blog Highlights

President Obama Visits Mexico and Costa Rica President Obama made his fourth visit to Mexico and continued on to Costa Rica on what was also his sixth visit to Latin America. On this journey, the President highlighted and reinforced the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America. Disponible en español aquí.

The International Influences of Cinco de Mayo Favorites Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has become more mainstream, with celebrations that bring together music, art and cuisine shaped by the rich culture and international influences of Mexico and Latin America. Avocados, cilantro, and chili peppers are a few key ingredients for traditional Cinco de Mayo dishes.  Each of these sees significant retail and sale activity during the holiday week, and each come with its own unique story.

Supporting Local Communities by Building Capacity and Cutting Red Tape One year ago, the President established the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) that established an innovative new model of federal-local collaboration dedicated to assisting communities get back on their feet and create jobs by helping them better leverage federal resources and form key partnerships to implement economic visions. Teams of federal employees are embedded with seven Mayors across the country to provide tailored technical assistance to cut through red tape, increase government efficiency, and build partnerships to help local leaders implement sustainable economic plans.

For Guatemalan Workers, a Ray of Hope Trade agreements between the United States and other nations are not just about the free exchange of goods and services; they’re also about protecting the workers who produce and provide them. In a global economy, protecting workers’ rights abroad helps protect workers’ rights here at home by ensuring a fairer global playing field.

Secretary Napolitano Meets With Counterparts From Mexico Recently, Secretary Napolitano met with Mexican Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, furthering the collaboration between the United States and Mexico on our shared responsibility for issues related to migration, border security, and facilitating legitimate travel and trade.

Get Involved

Apply for the Fall 2013 White House Internship Program The application for the Fall 2013 White House Internship Program is now open. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office of the President and engage them in public service opportunities. Learn more about the program and the application process. The deadline to apply is May 12, 2013.

USCIS Hosts Spanish-language Enlace Sessions On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will conduct a national Spanish-language Enlace session as part of an ongoing series of quarterly public engagements to provide agency updates, discuss immigration-related topics, and answer your questions. USCIS representatives will be available for participants to discuss regulations, policies, operations, and forms, but will not offer legal or case-specific advice. The event will be broadcast live from USCIS Headquarters and you can participate by:

Get Updates

Weekly Address: Fixing our Immigratio​n System and Expanding Trade in Latin America

President Obama describes the incredible opportunities to create middle-class jobs in America by deepening our economic ties and expanding trade in Latin America and discusses recent Senate bill that takes commonsense steps to fix our broken immigration system.

Mexico & Costa Rica Trip: On Thursday, President Obama started a three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica for his first visit to Latin America of the second term. During the trip, the President hopes to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties we share with Mexico and Central America.

Yesterday, the President had a bilateral meeting with Mexican President Peña Nieto at Palacio National in Mexico City. The bulk of his discussions in Mexico will cover the economy, and in Costa Rica, the President will meet with Central American leaders, who are important partners in improving foreign policy and the economy.

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, previewed the trip before leaving Washington. Check out the video on YouTube.

Transportation Secretary Nominated: On Tuesday, the President nominated the Mayor of Charlotte, Anthony Foxx, for Transportation Secretary. As mayor, Foxx modernized the electric train service to Charlotte’s downtown area, expanded the international airport, and extended the city’s light rail system. The President hopes cities can mimic the work done in Charlotte to attract more business, create more jobs, and stay competitive in the global economy.

Our top priority as a nation right now is doing everything we can to grow our economy and create good jobs and rebuild opportunity for the middle class. And one of the best ways we can do that is to put more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure.

New FHFA and FCC Heads Picked: On Wednesday, the President announced the nominations of Representative Melvin Watt, as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and Tom Wheeler, as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Watt served for 20 years as a member of the congressional committee that oversees housing policy and will be responsible for looking over mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The President will look for Wheeler to head the FCC to ensure American businesses and workers have “the tools they need to compete in the 21st century economy.”

Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative Tapped: On Thursday, the President announced his nominations of Penny Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce and Mike Froman as U.S. Trade Representative.

Pritzker is one of “our country’s most distinguished business leaders” with more than 25 years of management experience in real estate, finance, and hospitality.

If confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative, Froman, will bring with him over two decades in both the public and private sectors.  The President described him as “one of the world’s foremost experts on our global economy” who pushes until “he’s delivered the best possible deal for American businesses and American works.”

Hiring More Veterans: On Wednesday, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden participated in a Joining Forces employment event announcing new hiring commitments for veterans and military spouses. Two years ago, the President challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. The First Lady announced American companies achieved this goal eight months ahead of schedule. To date, 290,000 veterans or military spouses have been hired by the private sector, almost triple the original goal.

At the event, the First Lady continued the call to action and said American companies have committed to hire or train 435,000 veterans or military spouses over the next five years.

Joining Forces is a comprehensive national initiative to serve our service members and their families. Check out Joining Forces to find simple ways you can help veterans and military families.

Open for Questions: On Wednesday, President Obama held a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room covering a range of issues. The President responded to questions pertaining to Syria and our national security, the Boston Marathon bombing, gun legislation, health care, and immigration reform.  Watch the full press conference here and read the President’s full remarks here.

Correspondents’ Dinner: On Saturday, President Obama poked fun at himself at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton. The President was joined by host Conan O’Brien, First Lady Michelle Obama, members of the media, and a collection of celebrities. During his remarks, he shared a promo for Steven Spielberg’s follow-up to “Lincoln” called “Obama.”

You can watch the President’s full remarks on YouTube and read his remarks here.

150th Anniversary of National Academy of Sciences: On Monday, the President delivered remarks at the National Academy of Sciences on its 150th anniversary. The President thanked the Academy for its contributions and for helping create a strong economy, improving our health, and protecting our environment.

For 150 years, you’ve strived to answer big questions, solve tough problems, not for yourselves but for the benefit of the nation.  And that legacy has endured from the Academy’s founding days.  And when you look at our history, you’ve stepped up at times of enormous need and, in some cases, great peril.

West Wing Week: 05/03/13 or “Nobody Does It Better” – YouTube

This week, President Obama spoke at the Planned Parenthood conference and the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, met with the King of Jordan, made five personnel announcements, celebrated the sciences and the Joining Forces Initiative, and embarked on a trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.