White House Releases Visitor Records

Friday, 29 Jan 2010 07:33 PM

 

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The Obama administration's immigration policy is among the issues that visitors went to the White House complex to discuss in recent months, records disclosed Friday show.

The White House is releasing visitor records periodically to help meet President Barack Obama's promise of transparency. Most of the roughly 75,000 newly disclosed records cover October. The majority of visitors on the list were there for White House tours.

Hundreds of guests saw Obama at events ranging from trick-or-treating on Halloween to wheelchair basketball to gatherings on such issues as financial regulations, small businesses and hate crimes.

The Democratic National Committee's ethnic council had two briefings with Obama aides last year, including one in October, said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and an attendee. Similar briefings were held when Bill Clinton was president in the 1990s, Zogby said. The events are also open to non-Democrats, he added.

Immigration policy, health care, the economy and foreign policy were discussed, Zogby said. On immigration, some council members are from Eastern Europe and want the administration to make it easier for people to get visas to come to the United States to visit family or do business, he said.

"Our folks don't want that lost in the discussion. We certainly are understanding of the broader concerns that are taking place in the country on immigration but on the other hand we come from the perspective of immigration being a lifeblood of our communities," said Zogby, who also attended three White House briefings on Arab-American issues.

As with past administrations, immigration is a challenging issue for Obama. In his State of the Union address to Congress on Wednesday night, he said the government should continue working to fix a broken system by securing borders and enforcing laws.

Health care industry executives, repeat visitors to the White House last year as the Obama administration began work on a national health care plan, also show up in the new visitor records.

Among those visiting White House health care overhaul chief Nancy-Ann DeParle in October were John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable; Richard Deem, the American Medical Association's top lobbyist; Alissa Fox, lobbyist for the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Association; Karen Ignagni, head of America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade group for the health insurance industry; and Nancy Leamond, a top health care lobbyist for AARP.

Other White House guests included new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on the list for a Fiesta Latina event with Obama. Queen Silvia of Sweden appears to have visited first lady Michelle Obama at the White House residence in October. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, attended an October astronomy party on the South Lawn that the president held for about 150 middle schoolers.

As with past releases, there are names that catch the eye but are not who people might think: James Taylor isn't the famous musician, and Louis Farrakhan is not the Nation of Islam leader who in October told his followers not to become pacified by Obama's election because Obama is "the American president, not the black president."

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Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this story.

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On the Net:

White House visitor logs: http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/disclosures/visitor-records

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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