Sunday, December 31, 2006
For a link to the editorial on the Contra Costa Times website click HERE.
THE TAKEOVER of both houses of Congress by the Democratic Party increases the chances that real immigration reform could be enacted in 2007. That's because most Democrats, a significant number of Republicans and President Bush are in general agreement on how to deal with the issue.
They believe that most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States should be put on a path toward citizenship. Congressional leaders are considering dropping a requirement in a Senate bill that would require several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.
That measure divided illegal immigrants into three groups: those living here for five years or more, those here for two to five years and those here for fewer than two years.
All but the illegal immigrants living here for five years or more, roughly 7 million, would have to leave the country briefly to be eligible for legal status. Those here for fewer than two years would have to leave the country and would not even be guaranteed a slot in a guest-worker plan.
The bill is unworkable. Trying to determine who has been in the country for two, five or more years is virtually impossible, especially with an all-but-certain flood of fake documentation. Then there is the problem of trying to force 7 million people to leave the United States and seek
Opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to stay in this country is understandable. Immigrants should be required to go through the legal process of entering the United States. But there is no practical or humane way to turn back the clock on two decades of lax enforcement of immigration laws.
For many years, immigrants have been lured into the United States by employers seeking low-wage workers, regardless of identification, even though it is illegal to do so.
Had employers strictly obeyed federal law, there would be far fewer illegal immigrants in the United States. Unfortunately, the law was rarely enforced.
For any immigration law to be effective and humane, it must require far better identification documents, strict enforcement of federal law banning the hiring of immigrants without proper identification, and a large guest-worker program to accommodate the millions of immigrants who have been working productively in this country for many years.
In brief, reform measures now being discussed in Congress should effectively monitor immigration, protect our borders, enforce the law, recognize economic and logistical realities and be humane.
Bills that have been debated in Congress during the past few years meet some, but not all of the above criteria. Their biggest failing is trying to undo two decades of virtually open borders. It now appears that there is broad support in Congress for a more realistic immigration reform.
Those drafting new legislation for 2007 include Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., along with Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. The four and their staff members have begun working on a bill, which could be one of the few successes of the Bush administration.
Even with bipartisan support in Congress and backing by the White House, immigration reform will not be easy. Many members of Congress in both parties still fear that allowing most illegal immigrants to seek citizenship will be considered granting amnesty like that in the Simpson-Mazzoli law, which has proved to be so ineffective.
However, it was not amnesty that resulted in a failure to control immigration. It was a lack of enforcement against employers who hired illegal immigrants and the lack of foolproof identification for foreign nationals working in the United States.
These are the shortcomings that need to be corrected, not deportation of millions of people or a huge fence along part of our border with Mexico.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
And by the end of 2006, Congress still hadn't changed one letter of U.S. immigration law.
The border practically exploded into politics this year, drawing attention from voters and lawmakers thousands of miles from the Southwest. An estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants live here already, and about half a million make it here every year, mostly from Mexico.
But for all the drama inside and outside of Washington around the issue, advocates for reforming immigration laws are again waiting to see if Congress - this time, controlled by Democrats - will be able to deliver after years of debate.
That could be more likely now. President Bush, Democratic leaders in the new Congress and a broad coalition of Latino civil rights groups, churches, labor unions and business organizations all support reforms that would make it easier for workers to come here legally and would allow most undocumented immigrants already here to get legal status.
House Republican leaders were the main obstacle to passing new immigration laws this year, refusing to negotiate with the Senate over the dramatically different bills the chambers passed. Instead, the House focused on beefing up border security without changing the underlying immigration system.
But November's elections saw several outspoken "enforcement first" candidates lose, despite their tough rhetoric, from GOP Rep. J.D. Hayworth in Arizona to GOP Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania.
"I think we've got a better opportunity to get this thing done than I think we've ever had," said Marshall Fitz, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which is pressing for reforms.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he'll introduce legislation similar to the bipartisan bill the Senate passed in May as one of his top 10 priorities for the new Congress. That bill included a plan to offer millions of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will chair the Judiciary Committee - which will write any immigration legislation - also listed immigration reform as a chief goal for the year.
"Immigration is something that's not easy," Reid said. "But it's necessary."
Both the White House and Congress may be looking for issues where Bush and Democrats agree in an effort to start the next session without too much partisan rancor. Some observers say that could bode well for immigration reform.
"The list of major policy initiatives that this president and this Congress can agree upon is very short, and I think immigration reform is at the top of that list," said John Gay, a lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association and co-director of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, made up of trade organizations for industries that depend on immigrant labor.
Still, the issue won't be at the top of the agenda for all lawmakers.
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hasn't yet decided how or when to take up reform again, Democratic aides said. Many new House Democrats supported new border security restrictions on the campaign trail, which could complicate matters politically for Pelosi, even though lobbyists working on the issue believe a majority of the House would vote for reform.
But the stalemate this year taught advocates that they need to act fast, before election-year politics come into play, said Cecelia Munoz, vice president for advocacy at the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino civil rights group, Munoz hopes the House will take up a bill by spring in order for Congress to finish its work before 2008.
With the Bush administration already is ratcheting up border security and enforcement of laws against hiring illegal immigrants - the two biggest busts of undocumented workers in U.S. history occurred this year - some observers say border hardliners could win by default if Congress doesn't pass new laws soon.
The crackdowns are slowing the arrival of new immigrants, even though conservative critics say the administration isn't doing enough. Already, agriculture groups are complaining that new security measures are contributing to a labor shortage.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
To read the full editorial click HERE.
EVERY nation is a nation of immigrants. Go back far enough and you’ll find us all, millions of potential lives, tucked in the DNA of our African mother, Lucy. But the immigrant experience in the United States is justly celebrated, and perhaps no aspect of that experience is more quintessentially American than our long heritage of illegal immigration.
Descendants of the great immigration experiences of the 19th and 20th centuries visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to learn of the tribulations of ancestors who risked much to become Americans. Those of us whose ancestors risked everything as illegal immigrants, and in the process helped found a nation, owe our forebears a debt of gratitude, too. Without their daring disregard of immigration laws, we might not be here today.
With the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and some
key center-leaning Republican allies are working on measures that could place
millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship. In May, the Senate passed a bill that was much more centrist than the radically right-wing bill passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives at the end of 2005.
The new efforts in both houses of Congress are likely to look more like the Senate bill, and in many cases be much more humane and liberal-leaning.
This is in direct response to public support by Americans that felt some of the measures went too far in punishing immigrants, while giving a free pass to businesses that were in greater violation of existing laws.
Being a nation of immigrants, most Americans want to welcome newcomers to the United
States. The trick is to balance between security of the country, stability of the economy and the society, and simple humanity toward other people.
Accordingly, lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.
The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans. The original $6 billion to $10 billion estimate has increased to a $36 billion estimate, and may take longer than a decade to complete.
Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. Key points include tougher border security and a guest worker plan. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats.
To read the full article click HERE.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 — Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring.
The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.
The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans that passed with significant Democratic support. Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats.
Still, the proposals reflect significant shifts since the November elections, as well as critical support from the Homeland Security Department.
Proponents said the prospects for such a measure, which would include tougher border security and a guest worker plan, had markedly improved since Nov. 7.
The Senate plans to introduce its immigration bill next month with an eye toward passage in March or April, officials said.
The House is expected to consider its version later. President Bush said last week that he hoped to sign an immigration bill next year.
The major lawmakers drafting the legislation include Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, along with Representatives Jeff Flake,
Republican of Arizona, and Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois. The four met this month, and their staffs have begun working on a bill.
“I’m very hopeful about this, both in terms of the substance and the politics of it,” said Mr. Kennedy, the incoming chairman of the Senate Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee.
Mr. Kennedy acknowledged that there would be hurdles. But he and other lawmakers say Republicans and Democrats are now more likely to work together to repair a system widely considered as broken.
Many lawmakers say their hope is growing that Congress will pass an immigration bill next year.
“There are going to be hard choices that are going to be made, because we need to build a bipartisan, broad-based coalition,” said Mr. Gutierrez, who leads the House Democratic immigration group. “But I’m hopeful that in the environment in which we’re working now we can get it done.”
To read the full article in today's New York Times, click HERE.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Mr. Bush’s Immigration Realism
Every now and then the public gets a glimpse of the George W. Bush who is a calm realist on immigration, a former governor of a border state who knows, likes and understands Latino immigrants. It’s an identity sharply at odds with that of many other members of his Republican Party, especially the snarlers clustered on its right wing.
At his news conference yesterday, Mr. Bush commented on the raids at Swift & Company, the meatpacking giant that, to nobody’s surprise, seems to have had hundreds of illegal immigrants with forged papers on its low-skill work force. Mr. Bush did not condemn the detainees as border-crossing evildoers. He spoke with startling tolerance.
“The system we have in place has caused people to rely upon smugglers and forgers in order to do work Americans aren’t doing,” Mr. Bush said. “It is a system that, frankly, leads to inhumane treatment of people.”
He continued: “The best way to deal with an issue that Americans agree on — that we ought to enforce our borders in a humane way — is we’ve got to have a comprehensive bill.”
Mr. Bush understands that many illegal immigrants are doing what they have to do to support families within a system that offers few routes to lawful entry. He understands that giving immigrants the opportunity to earn an honest foothold in this country — the path to citizenship despised by restrictionists as “amnesty” — is not giving a reward to criminals. It is not something for nothing. It is an attempt to fix a system that draws in millions of illegal immigrants each year, efficiently taking their labor but withholding hope.
Mr. Bush has shown a way to move the debate away from the “amnesty” trap by casting reform as a means to end an abusive system and remove the perverse incentives that allow illegality to flourish. It may sound shocking to say that illegal immigrants deserve better. But as long as this country keeps swallowing them up into a broken, unjust system, they do.
Mr. Bush showed yesterday that he gets it. He should do that more often.
For a link to the editorial on the New York Times Website, click HERE.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The theater of last week's high-profile immigration raids across six states shows in bright lights just how broken is our federal immigration policy.
Strong demand for labor and wink-and-nod enforcement of immigration law have spawned an underground economy that is peopled by as many as 12 million workers without legal authority to be in the United States.
Federal agents rounded up 1,300 employees of Swift & Co., a meat-processing company that insists it followed immigration law by checking papers as required. The arrests also uncovered several cases of identity theft.
Many of the workers are heading for deportation; many families are left without their breadwinners; Republicans and Democrats alike are calling foul.
If anything, the raids perhaps will prod Congress to take up stalled immigration reform and, finally, do something about it. The challenge of this problem has moved far beyond the black-and-white debate of "what about illegal don't you understand?"
Sounds pithy, but it is really nonsense, given the realities of our nation's reliance on illegal-immigrant labor.
The opportunity is there, especially with Democrats taking control of the House . A year ago, the GOP-controlled House passed a Draconian enforcement-only bill that all but denied the importance of these illegal workers to the nation's economy. It was shortsighted and mean-spirited.
The Senate did better, passing a more-balanced law that created a guest-worker program and provided a means for young people without legal status to earn it by succeeding in college.
Of course, those who want only closed borders and mass deportations will attempt to delay any meaningful compromises. But they must be ignored — for the sake of the economy, border security and humanity.
More massive roundups like those last week are not the solution. Leadership is.
For a link to the Seattle Times editorial click HERE.
For more information about While Mem'ry Brings Us Back Again, click HERE.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
These new Members are not scheduled to hold office until January 04, 2007. However, it is very important that we begin to educate them on the need to fix our broken immigration system with a fair comprehensive immigration reform.
Please contribute to the Justice for Immigrants Campaign by taking steps to inform and educate these new Members:
Write Your Newly Elected Representative/Senator to Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Oppose Enforcement-Only Proposals
If you prefer to personally call, you can use the following link to find their contact information and use some of the talking points. You can also simply use your own talking points if you prefer.
Call Your Newly Elected Representative/Senator to Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Oppose Enforcement-Only Proposals
Thank you in advanced for taking quick action to support the Justice for Immigrants campaign and comprehensive immigration reform.
For a link to the Justice for Immigrants action page, click HERE.
Friday, December 15, 2006
OMAGH District Cllr Declan McAleer has added his voice to the growing lobby to legalise undocumented Irish people living in the USA. He said that hundreds of Tyrone people, including people from the Omagh district, are among those who have no legal status in the US.
According to Cllr McAleer "There are approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish people in the USA. Many feel under siege, living in limbo, uncertain about their future and unable to make career plans or start a family because of the fear of imminent deportation.
"One of the most distressing aspects of the draconian immigration measures, which were introduced in the wake of the attack on the twin towers, is the inability to travel home, especially for weddings and funerals. At this festive time of year, many Irish people long to come home for Christmas but this is not possible because of the danger of not being allowed back to resume their lives and careers in the New Year. There are also many cases where elderly grandparents have never seen their grandchildren and even within this district I have seen situations where family members cannot return home to be with their loved ones if a family tragedy occurs."
In an address to the US Senate, Niall O'Dowd who chairs the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) group, alluded to the difficulties experienced by the undocumented Irish when he referred to a young Irish woman named Mary who lives and works in the USA. When her brother was killed in a car accident several months ago, she had to listen to the funeral service down a telephone line.
Cllr McAleer added, "Perhaps, one of the most damaging measures is the decision not to issue driver licences to people who are not documented. This makes it impossible for parents to leave their children at school and signals financial ruin for construction workers who require licences to travel to work and operate machinery."
According to the ILIR, approximately 300 Irish construction workers rushed to help at Ground Zero on 9/11 and spent the next seven or eight days digging up bodies. None of them were asked for work papers but many are castigated as illegal immigrants and effectively 'on the run' from the authorities as a result of the so called "war on terror".
Cllr McAleer said he would be tabling a motion in Omagh Council to reflect these concerns.
He said he would be personally forwarding a letter to Ms Pelosi and called on other elected representatives and interested groups and individuals to do likewise.
The Mid-Tyrone Councillor concluded, "This initiative, which has the full backing of the Irish government, will help resolve the undocumented Irish issue and effectively 'free' thousands of our fellow countrymen and women from the shadows and allow them to develop and get on with their lives."
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The undocumented Irish resign themselves to a 2006 holiday season of lonely isolation. Visiting Ireland to be with family at Christmas means risking the life they have worked so hard to build for themselves here in America.
While Christmas shopping this weekend, I was pretty much caught up in the holiday spirit (and nearly swept away by the crowds near Rockefeller Center) when my iPod randomly played a Prodigals song brought to mind just how difficult the holiday season can be for the undocumented Irish.
But the New Year is coming and with it comes the opportunity to join the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform for another Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. I can hardly wait to welcome the 2007 Congress.
Under new leadership and determined effort from the thousands of American-Irish supporters of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, Congress will finally enact the long overdue comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
The undocumented Irish love this country and deserve a chance to earn their way to legal status in America.
When Congress passes immigration reform, 2007 will be a Happy New Year indeed.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Speakers for the Boston rally will include several elected officials and Irish community leaders including former Congressman, Bruce Morrison; ILIR Chairman Niall O’Dowd; ILIR vice-chairman, Ciaran Staunton; and Executive Director Kelly Fincham.
IBEW Local 103
256 Freeport Street
Dorchester MA 02122
Wednesday, December 13 at 7:30pm
Monday, December 11, 2006
Would have been nice if the writer had picked up the phone and called someone in the ILIR to get some of his facts straight. (But at least, unlike certain other media outlets, he recognized the importance of the Irish in America)
The world and its mother knows the now faltering Celtic Tiger has been a mythical beast in large parts of Ireland. The real reason people are leaving Wooodlawn is because they can't live without a car; the cars have been taken off them. The cars have been taken off them because someone had the bright idea of turning the DMV into a branch of the immigration service. So now they're packing up and leaving, involuntarily.
And no-one's coming out to replace them because there's no legal channel to do so. The message has gone out loud and clear from the United States; "Don't even think of coming out here without a visa". So now the Irish are going to Australia.
Personally, I would be sad to see the historic links between Ireland and the US destroyed especially in such a piecemeal way. But maybe no-one else does?
Thursday, December 07, 2006
It was standing room only in St Barnabas to greet Senator Charles Schumer who made the "V" for victory sign
VICTORY IN OUR GRASP: More than 1,100 people squeezed into St Barnabas High School Auditorium in the Bronx on Friday night to hear NY Senator Charles Schumer address the ILIR immigration rally.
The overflowing crowd spilled out onto the sidewalk. Local businesses closed down for an hour as customers and staff packed into the church.
Senator Schumer was greeted with a roar of deafening cheers as he was given the traditional Irish bagpipe escort into the rally. The cheering continued as the crowd heard what the Senator had to say.
Senator Schumer predicted victory for immigration reform in 2007 and stressed the enormous part that the Irish would play in that victory.
"Without the Irish this would be very difficult to get done. The Irish are a hugely important part of the lobby on this issue. They have proved in the past how successful they can be when they address this topic and I am delighted to be working with them."
ILIR Chairman Niall O'Dowd said: "Senator Schumer's comments make it clear that this is the year for victory and that the Irish lobby will play a critical role".
"The level of support that we have received and the incredible reaction to Senator Schumer's remarks makes it clear that the Irish lobby is back in action in a big way and demanding progress.
"We will be back in Washington, we will be back in the corridors of power, we will be back to get what is rightfully ours - a fair immigration system which will allow the Irish undocumented to legalize their status and which will allow future generations of Irish to emigrate legally to the US, something they can not do at present".
ILIR Vice-Chairman Ciaran Staunton said; "I thought the roof would come off when Senator Schumer (whose nickname is Chuck) said Tiocfaidh ár lá (our day will come). It was an emotional night, one that I feel meant an awful lot to the Irish who came".
"For too long, we have been on the outsde, now we have the king of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, who delivered victory for the Democrats coming in to our community and telling us that TOGETHER WE CAN DO IT!"
Executive Director Kelly Fincham paid tribute to the volunteers, saying they were the real reason behind the ILIR's success. "Every time you show up, every time you put on the Legalize the Irish T-shirt, you make a huge impact. Twelve months ago, we were calling Senator Schumer looking for support. Now he's calling us!"
The event was deemed so significant that the editorial board of The New York Times, the US paper of record, sent a representative.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
by Marie O'Halloran
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern is looking at the
possibility of a bilateral agreement with the US to resolve the issue
of the undocumented Irish, but the Government's main priority is to
seek a comprehensive reform package.
Mr Ahern told the Dáil that the Government was looking at all options,
including a bilateral agreement. He warned, however, that such an
arrangement might actually work against undocumented Irish. The issue
was raised following individual visa agreements reached by the US with
Australia and with Chile.
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented people in the US, of
whom up to 60,000 could be Irish. The Government had campaigned
consistently for the Kennedy-McCain proposals, to give them legal
Fine Gael spokesman Bernard Allen asked if the Government had broached
the "subject of a visa exchange programme between US and Ireland
similar to the one with Chile and Australia and which would give not
only Irish people an opportunity to have access to the US labour
market but would give opportunity to US citizens to work here".
Mr Ahern said that in relation to "bilateral arrangements, we are
looking at all the options but our primary responsibility and priority
is in relation to dealing with this issue of the undocumented once and
for all, in a way that will be relatively easy for them."
He added that "there are a number of other suggestions in relation to
bilateral arrangements, which might not necessarily assist
undocumented; which might make it even more difficult for undocumented
in a way."
"So can I say that our first priority, based on the advice that we get
from people like Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator John McCain and
others, is for a comprehensive reform package," Mr Ahern added.
He looked forward to a "further intensification of the Government's
efforts on behalf of the undocumented in the period ahead, in
particular with key members of the incoming Congress", and he was
hopeful "that in the first half of next year that we would have some
substantial progress to make in that respect."
There was "a different landscape after the election and a number of
people, both Republican and Democrats, who had been favourably
disposed to immigration reform have been re-elected with somewhat
Nonetheless, "there are some in the Democratic Party who wouldn't
necessarily be very much in favour of immigration reform for a number
of other reasons, not least for the whole issue of labour supply and
trade union issues which are very strong in the Democratic Party
Mr Ahern had written to senior congressional leaders in the wake of
the election, raising the issue of the undocumented Irish and on a
recent visit to the US had met the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform,
which was "most effective for promoting awareness within the US of the
Irish dimension to the undocumented issue."
However, comprehensive immigration reform "remains divisive and
difficult both in the Congress and in the US generally."
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Earlier this year, a common sense and comprehensive immigration reform measure supported by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., by business interests and at least a sizable chunk of organized labor, won approval in the GOP-controlled Senate. The legislation received at least some support from the White House, and the Senate leadership compromised with Democrats to push the measure through. Not only would border security have been strengthened, but also a guest worker program would have provided legal entry for hundreds of thousands of migrants.
And most important, a long period of national denial would have come to an end with the earned legalization of millions of undocumented workers. But the more ideological leadership in the House blocked the bipartisan reform, mocking it as ``amnesty'' for lawbreakers. Instead, they settled only for more troops along the border and a 700-mile-long wall...
In any scenario, eventual passage of a sweeping reform bill will require a measure of political courage and risk-taking that has been sorely absent from Washington in recent years. The question is whether or not the realities of immigration will finally force decisive action. Once the near-exclusive realm of human rights and Latino advocacy groups, liberalized immigration reform has now become a top priority not only for powerful unions like the SEIU but also for the American business community. Corporate America -- not traditionally seen as the champion of the downtrodden and hungry -- now believes that its very future is staked on access to a growing, young and hard-working immigrant workforce.
We're about to see if any of the pragmatism of the business lobby will be transmitted to the liberals now taking control of Congress. It would be a great historical irony if the new majority Democrats found themselves to the political right of the Chamber of Commerce in confronting one our most pressing national problems...
For a link to the full article, click here.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The roots of a divisive, grinding immigration debate have not gone away. But it is crucial that the Democrats find their voice. The effort to revive immigration reform should start in the Senate. There is a decent bill under the barnacled hulk of legislation that passed the Senate last May. It used to be called McCain-Kennedy, before other senators tacked on tough-posing amendments that made it fundamentally unworkable and unjust. The Senate should strip those away, like the ones that divide immigrants into three arbitrary tiers of worthiness and needlessly force those seeking legal status to trek to a border state to apply for it.
The principles that guided the original McCain-Kennedy bill are those that should guide the coming reform effort: laws should be enforced at the border and workplace, fairly and evenhandedly; temporary worker programs must not be used to create a permanent official underclass; and any reform must be designed to work and not just create another smothering bureaucracy...
Many voters who scorned Republicans over immigration reacted as you would expect them to after being mocked and exploited by a party that elevated the issue into an urgent crisis and then offered nothing to solve it but faux hearings, strident campaign ads and a pretend fence. The same fate may await any Democrats who posture, deceive and dawdle over immigration reform in the next Congress.
For a link to the full editorial, click here.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
FOR THOSE expecting a quick agreement on immigration reform between President Bush and a Democratic-led Congress -- hold your horses.
Immigration is far from being a done deal on Capitol Hill -- despite seeming like a sure thing the day after the Nov. 7 Democratic triumph at the ballot box.
"We probably went from a 5 percent chance for an agreement to at least a 50-50 chance," Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonprofit think-tank in Arlington, Va. Anderson was a top immigration aide to former Energy Secretary and U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich, when he chaired the Senate subcommittee on immigration.
Only a 50-50 chance? How could that be? On the surface, the Democratic victory seemed to sweep away most of the obstacles in the way of reform legislation emerging from Capitol Hill.
Most important, hardline immigration restrictionists, such as U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who authored the draconian legislation that would have turned illegal entry to the United States into a criminal offense and helped trigger the largest pro-immigration demonstrations in U.S. history, are no longer in the majority in the House. In addition, some of the most extreme anti-illegal immigration voices such as Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz were silenced by voters on Nov. 7.
On the plus side, President Bush, who is on record as supporting the "compromise" immigration bill approved by the Senate last spring, is still in office. In addition to tough "enforcement" provisions, including a 700-mile border fence, the bill would establish a temporary guest-worker program and provide a way for many of the 12 million illegal immigrants on U.S. soil to become citizens. Both parties have seen which way the political winds are blowing. An estimated 70 percent of Latino voters voted for Democratic candidates. Exit polls suggest that their vote was influenced by the harsh Republican approach to immigration reform.
These developments should grease the wheels for quick passage of an immigration reform bill.
But it's notable that immigration is not on the list of priorities of the House Democrats' "Six for '06" legislative agenda.
Some Democrats are skittish that Republicans will use immigration reform legislation as part of a counterattack to win back the House and Senate in the next election, two short years away. In addition, not all Democrats -- including some of the newly elected lawmakers -- support providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Despite these obstacles, it would be a national tragedy if Bush and a new Democratic-led Congress let the chance to pass meaningful immigration legislation slip through their fingers.
They should not simply rubber stamp the Senate "compromise" bill, which emerged as a result of some tough bargaining and dealmaking on Capitol Hill. The worst outcome would be if Congress approved flawed legislation that ended up having the same unintended consequences as the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which was cobbled together from a set of not-very-smart compromises.
Congress must take a close look, for example, at the recommendations of the Task Force on Immigration and America's Future, co-chaired by Spencer Abraham and Lee Hamilton (available at www.migrationpolicy.org.) The task force shows how our legal immigration flow is completely out of whack with the needs of the U.S. economy, and argues that reform must encompass legal immigration as well.
The reality is that pro-reform forces are now in closer alignment than they have been in years. It would be an act of political malpractice to squander this rare and extraordinary opportunity to rework an immigration system that is past due for repair.
Page G - 4
For a link to the editorial click here.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Houston Chronicle Editorial: Setting Boundaries, Midterm voters demanded centrist, enforceable immigration policy. Now.
In 12 of 15 races dominated by the illegal immigration debate, moderate candidates won. Just two immigration hard-liners prevailed, according to www.immigration2006.org, which followed the issue.
What Americans demand, according to their votes and polls taken during election week, are reason and realism. U.S. immigration policy consists of encouraging thousands of Latin America's most daring and desperate workers to risk their lives seeking U.S. jobs. Once they arrive, they pay with a fearful, subterranean existence in which they are exploited and barred from fully contributing to the community.
Most Americans want no part of this devil's bargain. In the elections, they also rejected extremists who demonized the workers themselves.
Here's what voters did want: comprehensive reform that works. According to a Tarrance Group survey just before the election, 57 percent of likely voters preferred candidates who backed comprehensive reform. The voters also wanted fair procedures for determining who may seek citizenship here. Sixty-eight percent said that should include paying a fine, paying taxes, having a clean record and learning English.
These voters also want a manageable immigration policy now. Fewer than one in three called immigration "extremely" important in his voting choice, one exit poll showed. Yet 75 percent said they wanted Congress to enact comprehensive reform next year, not later.
That reform has to include:
• Rationally planned border security (a 700-mile fence diverting migrants elsewhere doesn't qualify).
• Expanding legal work opportunities for the thousands of foreign workers employers want to hire.
• Drawing all illegal immigrants already here into the legal and social mainstream.
• Actively developing the economies of the poor countries from which those workers come.
This last step is the most complex, and most important. Our unregulated subculture of low-income workers ultimately weakens the home countries they support. As a recent Chronicle story showed, remittances can stunt economic growth and work ethics in poor countries that depend on them. America's importation of low-wage, disenfranchised workers who have no prospects at home reflects failed systems on both sides of the border.
Voters now have said it plainly: Only comprehensive, rational reform can start to fix this.
For a link to this editorial click here.
Those who call an earned path to citizenship "amnesty" are wrong. Amnesty would be declaring that all illegals were hereby deemed citizens. No one is proposing that. And no one is opposed to securing our borders to know exactly who's crossing them. But doing it right means fixing the entry process so that the workers our economy demands can enter efficiently, come out of the shadows and reunite safely with family - ultimately making it easier to apprehend those few criminals and terrorists who might wish to slip in.
An earned pathway to citizenship, combined with a guest-worker program, effective border security, internal enforcement and a fixed visa system (comprehensive reform) meets the realities of our economic and security needs.
And it wouldn't "reward illegal behavior." The earned pathway is like a plea bargain. A person who has committed the misdemeanor of entering the country illegally would, in effect, plead to the civil offense of overstaying his visa by acknowledging his guilt and paying a fine, and back taxes, proof of having worked, a criminal background check, an English proficiency test and other requirements.
It is an equitable and practical solution to a complex problem for which we all share responsibility - while still holding accountable those who have committed the indiscretion of entering or being in the country illegally. Opposition to comprehensive immigration reform on the grounds that "illegal is illegal" is an intellectually lazy argument arising out of knee-jerk nativism. We have a history of welcoming newcomers in this manner - despite our reputation as a "nation of immigrants." But if we don't want to cripple our economy, and if we're to be truly fair, immigration reform must be comprehensive. Anything less would be cutting off our big economic nose just to spite our hypocritical law-and-order face.
For the full article, click here.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
It appeared poised to do something this year, but the House and Senate deadlocked on a final bill. The House version stressed strict border enforcement and penalties for those who sneak into the country, while the Senate plan, which contained a border security element, also proposed ways for illegal immigrants already in the country to obtain citizenship after paying fines and back taxes.
Congress then adjourned for the summer, with House Republicans promising to conduct meetings to "listen" to what Americans had to say on the issue, as if there hasn't been enough discussion already. The only bill that's moved so far is one authorizing the construction of a dubious 700-mile border fence for $2.2 billion.
Ducking the immigration issue was an act of political cowardice. From a congressman's point of view, passing an immigration bill that did not address citizenship or guest workers would have cost him the Hispanic vote, while providing a path to citizenship for those already here would alienate another large bloc of voters. Doing nothing, therefore, was the safest political route to take, as a lawmaker could say he tried to fix the problem, but his colleagues were obstinate.
But we don't send men and women to Congress to plot safe political courses. We send them there to run the country and deal with the important issues. Immigration reform is one of those issues that won't go away if we ignore it long enough. The solution will only become more politically charged.
The post-election period is the ideal time to tackle this issue. There's no rush to get back home and campaign for votes. Those who lost their re-election bids have nothing left to lose at this point, while the rest have at least two years before they will face voters, enough time for most of the public to think rationally about the matter.
With the election past, officials should step off the path of least resistance and do what is right. That means getting beyond bumper-sticker slogans and finding a comprehensive solution.
Securing the border is an important step but it is not the only one. As long as there are companies that continue to seek out illegal immigrants, an incentive will always exist to cross the border, regardless what barricades are erected. The dishonest companies that hire illegal workers should be punished severely. At the same time, a functional guest worker program is needed for farmers and others who need laborers.
There are the estimated 11-20 million illegal immigrants already within our borders. Rounding them up and shipping them home is impractical as well as harmful to our economy. They have been invited here by business; government has knowingly looked the other way for many decades. It is fair, therefore, that many families that have worked, obeyed the law and paid taxes ought to be considered de facto American citizens.
We'd like to see the 109th Congress go down in history as the body that enacted comprehensive immigration reform.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A6. For a link to the piece click here.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Hard-liners in the House stopped comprehensive immigration reform in its tracks this summer, dealing a blow to the White House. Then they argued this was good for Republicans because Americans put illegal immigration at the top of their policy agenda and had no interest in comprehensive reform. Judging from the election results, the hard-liners were wrong.
In several high-profile races where illegal immigration was a key issue, the anti-immigrant candidate lost big. In Arizona, the front line in the immigration wars, Republicans J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf lost handily to more moderate voices. Hayworth, a six-term congressman, once favored a guest worker program but flip-flopped when he sensed bashing immigrants was a surer ticket to re-election.
In his book "Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security and the War on Terror," Hayworth called for a three-year ban on legal immigration from Mexico, which would devastate the U.S. agricultural community and hurt other industries as well. Apparently voters in Arizona's 5th Congressional District wanted no part of Hayworth's proposed ban.
Graf, a former state representative and member of the extremist Minuteman Project, was even more off base. Graf supported calls to reinstate "Operation Wetback," a 1950s federal deportation program that not only rounded up thousands of illegal aliens but also ensnared some U.S. citizens of Mexican descent. Graf's position garnered him only 42 percent of the vote in a reliably conservative district.
In Colorado, Republicans' anti-immigrant stance may have cost them the governor's race in addition to one congressional seat. Rep. Bob Beauprez (news, bio, voting record), the Republican who gave up his seat to run for governor, claimed that illegal immigration would prove to be Democrat Bill Ritter's "Achilles' heel" and spent much of the last few weeks of the campaign hammering away on the issue. But Colorado's agricultural economy is heavily dependent on immigrant workers (including illegal aliens), and Ritter's pro-guest worker position helped him win 56 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, Beauprez's open seat went to the Democrat, Ed Perlmutter, despite Republican candidate Rick O'Donnell's effort to make illegal immigration a central issue in that campaign as well. O'Donnell proposed a bizarre plan to draft boys in their last semester of high school to patrol the U.S.-Mexican border "instead of wasting time in 12th grade," describing his plan as a "society-wide rite of passage into manhood" that would provide a "sense of adventure and risk." Needless to say, residents of Colorado's 7th Congressional District didn't agree.
And perhaps in the most surprising loss of all, Indiana voters rejected Republican Rep. John Hostettler (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee. Hostettler led efforts to pass a get-tough bill that included a provision to make felons of all 12 million illegal aliens living in the U.S., which was dropped in conference with the Senate. Hostettler -- who, unlike most Republicans, voted against authorizing the Iraq war -- was trounced by his opponent, despite campaign help from a number of anti-immigration groups and appearances by anti-immigrant luminaries Phyllis Schlafly and Bay Buchanan.
According to an Election Day poll by Republican pollster Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen, only 8 percent of voters ranked immigration as their top issue, making it, at best, a second-tier issue. Americans want a secure border, but a majority supports comprehensive reform as the best means to stopping illegal immigration.
Americans also want to make sure illegal aliens don't exploit social services and aren't given special preferences. Most importantly, they want to ensure that all immigrants learn English and that government function in English, as Arizona voters demonstrated by supporting initiatives dealing with those specific issues on Tuesday.
Now that the people have spoken, maybe the Congress will finally listen and pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Republicans can't say they weren't warned. Like trade protectionism, the immigration issue is the fool's gold of American politics. Voters like to sound off to pollsters about immigrants, yet they pull the lever with other matters foremost in mind. Elections seldom if ever turn on immigration, and the GOP restrictionist message so adored by talk radio, cable news and the nativist blogosphere once again failed to deliver the goods.
Worse, this time Republicans made "securing the border" a loud national theme, only to do nothing about it save for approving a 700-mile fence along a 1,951-mile Mexican-U.S. border. They thus managed to highlight either their fecklessness in failing to do something about an allegedly urgent problem, or their cynicism in raising it at all.
In Arizona, which is ground zero in the illegal alien debate, two Republicans defined by their opposition to immigration were defeated by wide margins. Representative J.D. Hayworth, who is so proud of his desire to turn the U.S. into a single gated community that he wrote a book about it, lost handily. So did Randy Graf, another anti-immigration absolutist who ran for an open seat in a district that borders Mexico and sees more illegal immigrant traffic than perhaps any other Congressional seat in the nation.
These Democratic gains came in solidly Republican districts that President Bush won easily two years ago. Mr. Graf was seeking to fill the slot now held by Representative Jim Kolbe, an 11-term Republican who's retiring. Mr. Kolbe is a supporter of the comprehensive approach to immigration reform favored by the President but spurned by GOP restrictionists. It would combine more border security with a guest-worker program for newcomers and a path to legal status for undocumented workers already here. Mr. Kolbe won 60% of the vote in 2004. Mr. Graf was trounced, 54%-42%, on Tuesday, after having won a primary against a Republican with views similar to Mr. Kolbe's who could have held the seat.
Indiana incumbent John Hostettler, who chairs a House subcommittee on immigration and is one of his party's most outspoken restrictionists, managed to win just 39% of the vote in his losing bid for a seventh term. Mr. Hostettler's district is so Republican that John Kerry won only 38% of the vote there in 2004.
Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez made opposition to illegal aliens the centerpiece of his gubernatorial bid. He lost to his Democratic opponent by 15 percentage points. The GOP candidate who ran to replace Mr. Beauprez in the House and appropriated much of his anti-immigration rhetoric also lost by nearly as much.
GOP Senate candidates who thought immigration would put them over the top were disappointed as well. The issue didn't help the cause of challengers like Tom Kean in New Jersey and Mike McGavick in Washington state, both of whom tried to make illegal aliens an issue down the stretch but still lost to vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Nor was it the silver bullet for Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum, who fell 59%-41%. Senator Santorum spent the summer trying to link Mexican immigrants to the Iraq war. By the end of the campaign, he was accusing anyone who favored comprehensive immigration reform of being soft on terrorism.
In addition to losing seats, however, the GOP's restrictionist strategy has reversed significant gains among Latino voters. Exit polls show that 70% of Hispanics voted Democratic in House races this year. Meanwhile, some 29% voted Republican -- an eight-percentage-point drop from the 2002 midterm, and down 15 points from the 44% won by President Bush in 2004 (which had improved from 31% in 2000).
The GOP has a long history of fumbling the immigrant issue. And Mr. Bush, a former border-state governor who knows the issue well, has wisely been trying to steer his party away from repeating those mistakes. Mr. Bush might yet save his party from losing generations of Latinos the way its xenophobic message in the early 20th century turned away Irish, Italian and Asian voters for decades. He told reporters this week that immigration is an area where "I believe we can find some common ground with the Democrats."
We hope his party lets him, having learned the hard way not to follow Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly and the editors of National Review magazine down the garden path to defeat.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Members of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform recently attended a hearing with Miami Police Chief and fellow Irish immigrant John Timoney, where the Chief vowed that immigrants would not be hassled for documentation by local law enforcement officials unless they were being investigated for criminal activity.
Florida Delegate, Lisa Handley, asked Chief Timoney about a similar directive he had in place during his tenure as the head of the Police Department in Philadelphia. Chief Timoney told Lisa that Miami already had such a directive in place (dating back to 2002). He added that he and his staff were working to update the directive to respond to the needs of undocumented immigrants who might be reluctant to report crimes for fear of drawing local law enforcement attention to their immigration status. This fear prevents the undocumented from reporting street crime, worksite exploitation, and domestic violence against women.
For a link to a Miami Heral article discussing the hearing, click here.
Chief Timoney graciously posed for photos with members of the ILIR after the hearing (seen above Dermot Handley, Jr., Mairead Handley, Lisa Handley, Chief John Timoney, Dermot Handley, Elizabeth Handley).
President Bush said Wednesday that prospects for overhauling immigration laws have improved with the Democratic gains in the midterm election, holding out the hope of bipartisan cooperation.For the full article click here.
``I think we have a good chance,'' Bush said at a news conference. ``It's a vital issue . . . on which we can find some common ground with Democrats.''
Much work awaits 110th Congress
With Democrats having captured the House of Representatives and poised to take control of the Senate, immigration reform advocates are raising their hopes that a comprehensive, bipartisan reform bill will begin to take shape when the new Congress convenes in January.For the full article in the Irish Echo, click here.
A reform package that will include relief for thousands of undocumented Irish will require new bills in both the House and Senate and the kind of bipartisan input that was evident in the crafting of the McCain/Kennedy bill earlier this year.
President Bush, meanwhile, has indicated his willingness to support reform measures beyond just the securing of the nation's porous borders and a bipartisan package that will not tempt his veto pen should now be a strong likelihood in 2007.
'No' to immigration hard-liners
Arizona voters chose candidates who support comprehensive reform Tuesday. Will Washington follow their lead?
McCain, the state's senior senator, wasn't actually on the ballot. Rather, candidates across the state campaigned for or against an idea that McCain and a few other Arizonans in Congress have championed: a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that provides more visas for guest workers, modifies the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country and improves border security.For the full article click here.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
For the full article, click here.
Monday, November 06, 2006
...Polling on immigration has been remarkably consistent over the past few years. The American public wants tighter enforcement of the laws but also realizes that the system now in place is unworkable. Consistent two-thirds majorities favor a comprehensive overhaul that would include tighter enforcement, but also guest-worker visas and a path to citizenship for illegal workers already in the country. This compromise package has the potential to be realized after the elections. After all, how many issues are there today on which George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Rudy Giuliani all agree?
The great obstacle to immigration reform has been a noisy minority. Only about 20 percent of voters, mostly but not exclusively Republican, are dead set against a guest-worker program as well as any path to citizenship for illegals. But they are active primary voters, which means that their influence has been vastly enhanced (and exaggerated) during the campaign season. Come Tuesday, the party will be over. CNN's Lou Dobbs and his angry band of xenophobes will continue to rail, but a new Congress, with fewer Republicans and no impending primary elections, would make the climate much less vulnerable to the tyranny of the minority.
On the contrary, it will make enormous political sense for all sides to come together and cut a deal...
Comprehensive reform is the only way forward. Enforcement only or first will not work. Laws that pay no heed to the forces of supply and demand end up as costly failures. (Think of Prohibition.) The good news is that this is a rare case where good policy and good politics could come together.
For the full article click here.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
"[We want to] contribute, serving in the army and all the Irish want to do is help build this country. Why is it so difficult? Because out of one million visas allocated last year, Irish were granted 160 visas. So immigration reform is a necessity now."
For the full article click here.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Members of Congress were content to huddle around President Bush last week as he signed a bill calling for 700 miles of fencing on the U.S.-Mexican border. The photo-op was intended to fool us into thinking that something has been accomplished in the area of border security.
What was accomplished was very little. Even if lawmakers had come up with all the funding to pay for the fencing -- and they didn't -- barriers only squeeze more illegal immigrants through those parts of the border that aren't fenced off. In the 1990s, crackdowns in El Paso and San Diego sent millions of illegal immigrants to crossing points in the Arizona desert.
The country would have been better served by an honest discussion of matters indispensable to any meaningful debate of immigration policy:
To read the full article, click here.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
For the full article click here.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Lie No. 1: We’re building a 700-mile fence. The bill signed by Mr. Bush includes no money for fence building. Congress has authorized $1.2 billion as a down payment for sealing the border, but that money is also meant for roads, electronic sensors and other security tactics preferred by the Department of Homeland Security, which doesn’t want a 700-mile fence. Indian tribes, members of Congress and local leaders will also have considerable say in where to put the fence, which could cost anywhere from $2 billion to $9 billion, depending on whose estimates you believe.
“It’s one thing to authorize. It’s another thing to actually appropriate the money and do it,” said Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. “I’m not sure that’s the most practical use of that money.”
Lie No. 2: A fence will help. A 700-mile fence, if it works, will only drive immigrants to other parts of the 2,000-mile border. In parts of the trackless Southwest, building the fence will require building new roads. Who uses roads? Immigrants and smugglers. And no fence will do anything about the roughly 40 percent of illegal immigrants who enter legally and overstay their visas.
Lie No. 3: The Senate’s alternative bill was weak, and its supporters favored amnesty. In May, the Senate passed a bill that had a fence. Not only that, it had money for a fence. It also included tough measures for cracking down on illegal hiring. It demanded that illegal immigrants get right with the law by paying fines and taxes, learning English and getting to the back of the citizenship line. It went overboard in some ways, weakening legal protections for immigrants and hindering judicial oversight. But it went far beyond the fence-only approach. Its shortcomings and differences with the House bill might have been worked out in negotiations over the summer. But instead, House Republican leaders held months of hearings to attack the Senate bill. And all we were left with was the fence.
Whatever happens in November, Congress will eventually have to deal with the 12 million illegal immigrants unaffected by the fence, and the future flow of immigrant workers. That means tackling “amnesty” directly. The sad thing is that Democrats and moderate Republicans — and Mr. Bush — already did this, and settled on an approach that is both tough and smart.
For the fulll editorial click here.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
And while we're waiting on a link to the Boston Herald, here's a link to the "reality-based" blog of BlueMass..
In this photo, Kerry Healey yuks it up on immigration as her husband (?) claps along. The T-shirt reads "Legalize The Irish .org," a URL that redirects to The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform or ILIR. ILIR is a serious organization that advocates for the Senate version of immigration reform, believing that that is the best way to help increase immigration from Ireland.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
"There is clear evidence to support the establishment of some form of bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Irish governments," Labour Minister Tony Killeen said in a statement after he returned from a trip to New York.
Killeen said that, while 30,000 to 40,000 illegal Irish immigrants were living in the United States, two centuries of mass emigration to the United States from Ireland because of famine and unemployment was clearly now at an end.
Ireland's Trade and Employment Ministry said more than 4,300 Americans immigrated to Ireland in search of employment in 2005, compared with 1,700 Irish people moving to the United States, where more than 10 percent of the population claims Irish descent.
Killeen said a jobs fair in New York showed how appealing Ireland had become in the wake of the "Celtic Tiger" boom.
"The interest expressed by Americans to come and work in Ireland was so great that a queue more than two-and-a-half blocks long formed outside the exhibition venue," he said.
"In less than 15 years, Ireland has gone from being the sick man of Europe to one of the most dynamic economies in the developed world."
Killeen told Reuters in New York last week that Ireland would also try to lure Irish and U.S. citizens back to Ireland where the population is now back above 4 million, having slumped to a 120-year low of 2.8 million in the 1960s.
Copyright 2006 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform looks forward to real comprehensive immigration reform.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The games were attended by several thousand supporters of Irish Football (GAA), many of whom were undocumented.
An Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Volunteer asked Healy to pose for a photograph with a Legalize the Irish t-shirt, which she did.
She received a very hostile reception from the crowd, with several Republican business owners from Boston saying that they would not be able to support her because of her stance on immigration.
It was pointed out to her by many people that she was actively calling for the criminalization of many of the people both attending and playing the games, a contradiction which she was unable to reconcile (despite wearing the t-shirt!).
Healy was booed arriving and departing the games.
In addition, the New York hurling team was actually supposed to play the game in Ireland but was unable to travel because the majority of the team are undocumented.
Friday, October 20, 2006
New York will play Antrim in the Guinness Ulster Hurling Championship Final in Boston on Oct 22, 2006.
This is the first time that a provincial final will be held outside of Ireland.
It will also be the first time that New York has contested a provincial final after playing in both the Ulster and Connacht Championship.
The game will be part of a Sunday programme which will include the Interprovincial Football final while on Oct 21, a NAB team will play the Tommy Murphy Cup winners.
The NY GAA Board asks all its members, friends, and GAA fans in North America to travel to Boston to support the New York Hurlers in their quest for the Ulster Hurling Championship of 2006.
Show your support for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform this weekend. Wear your LEGALIZE THE IRISH shirt with pride.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
by Frank Sharry
How did we get from there to here?
The past two years has witnessed an extraordinary set of developments in the U.S. immigration policy debate. It’s worth recalling some of the high and low lights…
Following his re-election, President George W. Bush makes comprehensive immigration reform a top priority for his second term. In December 2005, and in response to talk radio, talk TV, and the Minutemen, House leaders turn their backs on an increasingly unpopular President and pass the harshest immigration bill in 80 years. In the spring of 2006, millions of immigrants and their allies take to the streets in protest. In an Oval Office address, the President declares that the time has come to get control over the nation’s borders by combining tough enforcement with a realistic framework for legal immigration. In a rare display of bipartisan problem-solving, a comprehensive immigration reform bill passes the Senate that combines tough border and workplace enforcement measures with more worker and family visas and a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. In a series of independent polls, the public demands action from its leaders and declares its preference for the Senate approach. The stage is set for difficult but promising negotiations with the House.
And then, in an extraordinary display of cynical election-year calculation (miscalculation?), House leaders sidestep a conference committee with the Senate, mock the bipartisan Senate bill by labeling it the “Reid-Kennedy bill,” and take their base-turnout strategy on a summer road show of “faux hearings.” Upon returning to Washington for the last month of pre-election legislative action, the House Republican leadership pieces together a set of sweeping legislative measures straight out of their previously-passed enforcement-only bill, has them approved on the House floor (again), and attempts to impose its will on the Senate by adding them to must-pass appropriations measures.
Thanks to determined opposition from members on both sides of the aisle, cooler heads prevail and stop most of the sweeping House measures from becoming law. Senators Specter (R-PA), Gregg (R-NH), and Warner (R-VA), all of whom supported the comprehensive Senate immigration bill, refuse to yield to aggressive backroom attempts by House leaders to add the anti-immigrant bills to spending measures. Senators McCain (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC), Martinez (R-FL), Hagel (R-NE), Brownback (R-KS), and Craig (R-ID) among others, continue to speak out forcefully for comprehensive reform as the only way to truly fix the problem. And just as heroically, Senators Reid (D-NV), Kennedy (D-MA), Salazar (D-CO), Feinstein (D-CA), Durbin (D-IL), Lieberman (D-CT), and Obama (D-IL), among others, maintain their steadfast support for comprehensive reform in the face of a crass pre-election attempt to paint Democrats as “soft on illegal immigration.”
This spirit of bipartisanship is mostly absent in the House, but Democratic House leaders such as Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Whip Hoyer (D-MD), members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and many others, add their voices to those who rightly denounce the House tactics as the triumph of bad politics over good policy. Courageous Republican voices, such as Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), as well as others, bravely make the case for a comprehensive approach.
In the end, Congress appropriates more money for border security, approves a measure to make tunnel-building illegal, and in its highest profile “accomplishment,” authorizes the construction of 700 miles of fencing along our 2,000 mile border with Mexico. (In fact, Congress authorizes 700 miles of fence in the “Secure Fence Act” but only appropriates enough money for DHS to build approximately 90 miles!)
Is this the best we can do?
This is what passes for political leadership? Refuse to convene a conference committee to negotiate a far-reaching reform on a pressing policy priority? A political road show aimed at throwing red meat to a minority of voters in hopes that they get angry enough to show up in November? Playing “gotcha” politics anchored in cynical disregard for the intelligence of American voters? A fence to nowhere with funds from nowhere? Is the failure to deliver workable reform one of the reasons Congress’ approval rating is so low?
What’s next is the election. And the election results will have a considerable impact on future prospects for comprehensive immigration reform.
If House Republicans retain or expand their current majority and conclude that their hard line on immigration helped them do so, one suspects that Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) will continue to be the face of the House Republican agenda on immigration issues. If House Republicans lose numerous seats or their majority, then prospects for comprehensive immigration reform will improve significantly. We believe there has been and will be a bipartisan majority for workable comprehensive reform in the House, no matter which party is in the majority. The main question is whether the leadership will allow this majority to work its will.
Whether the Senate is led by Republicans or Democrats, the upper chamber has already proven its ability to enact architecturally-sound comprehensive reform. The challenge for the Senate will be to improve on its 2006 bill so that it not only passes with strong bipartisan support, but works once implemented.
What about a lame duck session of Congress? Some proponents of comprehensive immigration reform are holding out hope that something good might happen when Congress returns the week after Election Day. We would be pleased to be proved wrong, but we are not optimistic. After all, what are the chances the House Republican leadership, after spending six months trashing comprehensive immigration reform, will come back in November and enact comprehensive immigration reform?
In fact, the more likely scenario is that House leaders will return determined to attach some or all of the sweeping enforcement-only measures rebuffed in September to must-pass appropriations measures. We hope and expect our allies in both parties and in both chambers will continue to resist this backdoor attempt to enact measures that will only serve to make our broken immigration system more dysfunctional.
We believe that the immigration debate will continue to roil American politics and American communities, and that voters will become more insistent that our leaders lead. We believe they will become more demanding that Congress and the President size up problems in their full dimensions so that our responses are realistic and workable. We believe they will intensify their call on Congress to solve complex problems like the broken immigration system with comprehensive, common-sense, bipartisan solutions—instead of the partisan polarization and paralysis we have today.
In the immigration debate, this would mean that we stop ignoring the facts of life. We can no longer ignore the fact that the U.S. economy is increasingly dependent on an increasingly integrated labor market with the world in general and Latin America in particular. We can no longer ignore the fact that 500,000 workers settle in the U.S. without legal status each year in part because there are only 5,000 visas for full-time low-skilled service workers. We can no longer ignore the fact that our family reunification system is badly backlogged and keeps spouses and children separated from loved ones for years. We can no longer ignore the fact that 20 years of enforcement-only strategies have failed to reduce illegal immigration, but have instead increased smuggling fees, the proliferation of fake documents, and the number of gruesome migrant deaths in the Arizona desert. We can no longer ignore the fact that the majority of the 12 million or so undocumented immigrants in this country work hard, live in families, and have been settled in the U.S. for years, making up 5% of the U.S. labor force and living as welcome members of many local communities.
We look forward to a continuing debate over how to reform our immigration laws so that we regain control of our borders, strengthen our economy, reunite families, level the playing field in the workplace, protect civil rights, and renew our nation’s commitment to citizenship. We sincerely believe that replacing the broken status quo with a 21st century regulatory system that works is a matter of “when,” not “if.” We are confident that the next Congress will move beyond fences and slogans to fixes and solutions.
For a link to the Immigrant's Weekly article, click here.
For the full Oxford Analytica article that reaches this conclusion, click here.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
He said he couldn't get over how expensive Ireland has become. He couldn't believe the crazy costs of everything. He was paying over $2000 a month on a mortgage, child care was costing $400 a week and he said if they went out for a meal they wouldn't see much change from $150.
After two years of trying to make it work, they decided to move back to New York. They are here now six months and are truly happy.
Another lad I know has just come back from Ireland saying he couldn't seem to save any money. They're lucky to have their citizenship is all I can say. I wish I did
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Looking Over the Wall
Congress has adjourned to plead for its re-election, having bequeathed to the nation a giant fence-building project as its official strategy for fixing the immigration problem. No doubt some voters will be reassured by the idea that covering 700 miles of the 2,000-mile southwestern border with razor wire and floodlights will solve this thing once and for all. But many others will continue to suspect that it is more complicated than that.
With a better start, this election year could have featured a rational debate about immigration policy that went beyond xenophobia and the fear of disorder caused by the presence of immigrant day laborers on suburban street corners. Americans — particularly those struggling to find decent jobs themselves — have a reasonable concern about what effect the presence of so many unplanned-for workers has had on the economy. They deserved to hear that talked about in a realistic way.
Last month the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that wants to reduce immigration, released a study that found that a sharp immigration increase in the last five years corresponded with a steep decline in the employment of young native-born Americans, particularly black men without high school diplomas.
Last week in The Times, Rachel Swarns reported on the ways the booming population of Latinos in the Deep South — particularly Georgia — had left many black Americans resentful of the immigrants’ comparative success.
But there is compelling evidence that instead of harming the economy, unskilled immigrants prop it up, filling jobs that better-educated Americans do not want and giving everyone access to cheaper goods and services. The case made by the Center for Immigration Studies is rebutted by other studies that have found that there is no nationwide pattern of job displacement by illegal immigrants, and that immigration has broadly been a net plus to the nation. In Georgia, immigrant labor has kept textile mills, farms and service industries humming.
Right now across America, fruit is rotting on the ground because the crackdown along the border has created a shortage of immigrant workers needed for the harvest. Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore stories of poor American workers who believe that their livelihoods were undermined by immigrants willing to work for below-subsistence wages, and of honest employers who could not compete with unscrupulous competitors using undocumented workers.
These serious problems will not be solved at the border with Mexico. Setting things right means adopting policies that fence-obsessed members of Congress have not exactly championed, like raising the minimum wage, improving public education, having a progressive income tax and making sure that workers’ rights are protected.These are only a few reasonable solutions. A host of others is offered in a new report by the Migration Policy Institute, in which Lee Hamilton, the former congressman, and Spencer Abraham, the former senator and energy secretary, argue that immigration needs to be seen as an integral element of a national economic policy. It is a resource to be embraced and managed, with a lawful, orderly flow of workers governed by flexible quotas set by a national commission advising Congress.
It’s a comprehensive approach and then some. It offers a new way of framing a stalled debate. The wall builders have made their point, and it’s a lousy one. Now it is time for those who want serious immigration reform to look beyond them.
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But election politics scuttled hopes for reform in Congress, and President Bush's declining popularity and troubles in Iraq ensured that no leadership would come from the White House. Mr. Bush's support for a guest worker program all but disappeared as his poll numbers fell. In the absence of real solutions, the country was left with symbolic fixes. And the symbols weren't pretty.
The president sent some National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Federal immigration agents conducted sweeps of job sites with illegal workers and deported hundreds of them. And, of course, there was the fence. Before breaking for election campaigning, Congress approved building 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border.
Fences generally go beyond symbolism and have practical functions. But what Congress signed off on is really a symbolic wall intended to allay the nation's frustration with its dysfunctional policy, at least for the time being.
It's hard to take a 700-mile fence seriously when it's supposed to cover 2,000 miles. It's even harder when Congress sets aside only enough money, $1.2 billion, to build about half of it - maybe 370 miles.
But that might even be a stretch. The fence bill gives the Department of Homeland Security wide discretion in deciding how the $1.2 billion should be spent. If he chooses, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who is known to favor the high-tech approach, can use the money to create a "virtual fence" with high-tech sensors and surveillance devices. In fact, he can spend the money on most anything associated with border control - roads, signs, buildings, etc.
Who will get the non-virtual fence remains an open question. Governors, congressmen and even mayors from the border states have been bickering for weeks over what they consider their fair share of the barrier. To get the bill through the Senate, Republican leaders put in language that requires Homeland Security to negotiate with affected parties to determine where sections of fence will go. Even Indian tribes must be consulted.
So, the much-publicized 700-mile fence to protect the 2,000-mile border appears likely to become a few hundred miles of cameras, lights and heat sensors punctuated by the occasional segment of metal and wire - a structure that, from a distance, looks like a hockey player's smile.
Members of Congress, Republicans in particular, are on the campaign trail telling constituents about a 700-mile fence that will make the nation more secure and stem the flow of illegal immigrants. It will stand, in places yet to be determined, as a symbol of the government's resolve to control its borders.
As virtual achievements go, it ranks among the greatest in United States history.
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