Obama: Court ruling won’t end immigration debate

By: Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

President Obama


WASHINGTON — President Obama all but conceded defeat on immigration Thursday following a Supreme Court decision that kept his executive actions on hold, saying it’s unlikely he’ll be able to accomplish his goal of giving millions of immigrants semi-legal status by the end of his presidency.

Obama called the Supreme Court’s deadlock a setback that “takes us further from the country we aspire to be.” But he also predicted that an overhaul the immigration system would come eventually.”Congress isn’t able to ignore America forever,” he said.

Obama spoke following the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock in a closely watched case that considered whether the president has the power to delay deportations of millions of immigrants who don’t have the legal authority to be in the United States.

The unusual Supreme Court tie vote — caused by the vacancy created by Senate Republicans’ refusal to confirm a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia — means that a lower court ruling stands. That decision held that states have standing to sue the federal government over the executive actions, and put important parts of Obama’s immigration plan on hold.

The Obama administration has deployed more border agents to the southern border, and Obama said he’s cut illegal border crossings to their lowest levels since 1970s. But he lamented that success on that front did not break the logjam in Congress over an immigration reform package.

“It is heartbreaking for millions of immigrants who made their lives here, who raised families here,” Obama said.

Obama promised that little would change for most immigrants, saying his administration would continue to consider long-term unauthorized immigrants a low priority for deportation. “What is unaffected by today’s ruling, or lack of a ruling, are the enforcement priorities we put in place,” he said. “As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited law enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

But the decision means that immigrant families will not be eligible for get work authorizations and government benefits. Obama said he’s not considering any more executive actions on the issue before the end of his presidency.

Obama also used the occasion to once again call on the Republican- controlled Senate to confirm his nominee for a vacancy to the Supreme Court, which would provide for a more definitive — and likely Obama-friendly — decision.

“The court’s inability to reach a decision in this case is a very clear reminder of why it’s so important for the Supreme Court to have a full bench.”

Obama did praise a separate decision upholding affirmative action in college admissions. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everyone, and that;s what the Supreme Court upheld today,” Obama said.


The Obamas play the roles of mom and dad perfectly at Easter Egg Roll

By: Jamie Feldman, Style Editor, Huffington Post


Obama with Easter Bunny at White House
Easter Egg Roll

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have a few months left to dress up for events at the White House, but there’s one job for which they’ll always know how to dress the part: Mom and Dad. After a whirlwind few weeks of sartorial stunners, the Obamas arrived at the 138th Easter Egg Roll on Monday looking more like America’s parents than anything else. Michelle wore a grassy green top, a long jacket and what appears to be leggings and sneakers, while Barack donned that gingham shirt and, well, dad jeans.
They then proceeded to do incredibly mom- and dad-like things: a dramatic reading of “Where the Wild Things Are,” delivering high-fives, making jokes about the whip and nae nae and listening to mom-and-dad favorite Idina Menzel sing the national anthem.

President Obama and family attend MLB baseball game in Cuba

By: Jorge L. Ortiz, USA Today Sports
Obama with family at Baseball game in Cuba

Obama family watches baseball game with Raul Castro, President of Cuba (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

HAVANA — For several days, Tampa Bay Rays players had expressed their admiration for the baseball passion Cuban fans are known for. On Tuesday afternoon, the Rays truly experienced it..Down 4-0 with one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Cuban national team finally showed signs of life when Rudy Reyes hit a solo homer off Rays reliever Alex Colome. When Juan Torriente followed with a double, Estadio Latinoamericano erupted, chants of “Cuba! Cuba!’’ suddenly reverberating around the antiquated ballpark.
Colome got the next two outs to close out the Rays’ 4-1 victory in the first game for a major league team in Cuban soil since 1999, but the visitors got a full taste of what baseball means in this island, and they came away impressed.
“Most of this group has played winter ball to some capacity,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said, alluding to the typically vibrant environment at those games. “It’s winter ball times 10 over here.’’
Sports, nationalism and politics made for a powerful mix on a day when President Obama sat alongside Cuban President Raul Castro in the box seats, 15 months after they announced a normalizing of relations between two countries that had been estranged for more than five decades.
It was the first visit to Cuba by a sitting president in 88 years, and the first time such a trip was paired with an appearance by a major league team. Emotions flowed freely before, during and after the game.
“In the opening ceremony, I honestly had to fight back some tears,’’ said Rays staff ace Chris Archer, who presented Obama with a glove from teammate Matt Moore. “It was emotional.’’
That applied to a number of figures involved in the game.
Rays right fielder Dayron Varona, who left the island three years ago, reunited with his relatives when the club reached Havana on Sunday, a moment he called “beautiful but also painful.’’
When he stepped up to the plate leading off the game – receiving only modest applause but no discernible booing – Varona became the first Cuban to come back and play in his home country after defecting.
Varona, who played at Class AA last season and was included on the travel roster at his teammates’ urging, was given a warmer ovation when he left the game in the bottom of the third, right around the same time as Obama.
“It was very satisfying to have them applaud for me when I left the field,’’ said Varona, 27. “I’m Cuban. Just because I took a decision at one point doesn’t mean I stopped being Cuban. I’m Cuban in the United States, in Alaska, anywhere.’’
Umpires Angel Hernandez and Lazaro Diaz, who worked first and third base, respectively, also have strong feelings for their parental homeland.
Hernandez’s family left the island 54 years ago when he was 14 months old. He returned for the first time in December as part of his church’s missionary work and participated in an umpiring clinic organized by MLB. At that time he spread the ashes of his father, Angel, along their La Playa Guanabo neighborhood in Old Havana.
For 34 years, Angel Sr. ran a Little League in Hialeah, Fla., that produced several major leaguers, and he directed his oldest son toward umpiring when Angel Jr. was starting to feel the lure of the street. Angel Sr. died four years ago.
Traveling to the homeland his father could never return to, both in December and now, proved overwhelming for the veteran umpire.
“I cried like a baby,’’ he said.
Diaz, his childhood friend and baseball opponent from Miami, was born in the U.S. to Cuban parents and had traveled to the island a few times before. Still, he felt a surge of emotions Tuesday.

Obama urges rejection of violence at campaign rallies


Obama gives speech

President Obama delivers remarks on campaign

WASHINGTON — President Obama said on Tuesday that the violent scenes playing out at rallies for Donald J. Trump threatened to tarnish “the American brand,” and he called on politicians in both parties to reject them. Speaking at the Capitol for the annual “Friends of Ireland” luncheon with lawmakers, Mr. Obama did not mention Mr. Trump by name, but he criticized the protesters who have interrupted the candidate’s campaign events and the violent response from Mr. Trump’s supporters.
Violence has broken out at Trump rallies in Chicago, North Carolina and Ohio as protesters increasingly seek to disrupt the events.
On Friday, Mr. Trump canceled a rally in Chicago, sending thousands of people home, after his supporters clashed with protesters at an arena there.
Mr. Obama said the actions of both sides damaged American politics and the nation’s reputation around the world. Politicians should think of the effect their language has on children who are watching, he said.
“We should not have to explain to them this darker side” of the political system, Mr. Obama said as lawmakers — including the leaders of the Republican Party — sat nearby.
The audience remained hushed for Mr. Obama’s remarks, listening as the president turned to address the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, who was the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2012.
Mr. Obama told Mr. Ryan that he disagreed with him on most policy issues. “But I don’t have a bad thing to say about you as a man,” he said. Mr. Ryan nodded in agreement as Mr. Obama continued. “I know you want what’s best for America,” the president said.
Mr. Obama’s comments about the rallies echoed remarks he has made repeatedly about Mr. Trump, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, in the last several weeks. On Friday, Mr. Obama mocked him during remarks at a Democratic fund-raiser in Austin, Tex., criticizing Mr. Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail.
“We’ve got a debate inside the other party that is fantasy and schoolyard taunts and selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network,” Mr. Obama said, referring to a news conference in which Mr. Trump showed off an array of products bearing his name.
The president said Republicans should not be surprised by the language Mr. Trump and some of his rivals were using in an effort to win the nomination.
“They can’t be surprised,” Mr. Obama said, “when somebody suddenly looks and says: ‘You know what? I can do that even better. I can make stuff up better than that. I can be more outrageous than that. I can insult people even better than that. I can be even more uncivil.’ ”
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Obama had decided to criticize Mr. Trump during the annual Capitol Hill celebration of Irish heritage because the camaraderie and fellowship at the event “is in stark contrast to the kind of vulgarity we see on the campaign trail.”
Mr. Earnest noted that the event celebrated immigration, an issue that has become politically toxic among Republican presidential candidates.
“After all, Irish immigrants have thrived in America,” Mr. Earnest said. Borrowing part of Mr. Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again,” he added: “The president has long believed that’s an important part of what makes America great.”
Mr. Earnest said Mr. Obama was likely to speak again about divisive campaign language.
“I think the president is concerned about the corrosive impact of the tone of the political debate,” Mr. Earnest said.
Responding to a statement by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, urging Mr. Trump to condemn violence regardless of its cause, Mr. Earnest said Republican leaders should not condemn Mr. Trump’s divisive statements while also supporting his bid for the presidency.