Sunday, February 19, 2006

Breda: I'm ready to fight now

I was at my first meeting in Woodside and it really did empower me to make my contribution. I am so glad that I happened upon Rory Dolan's a few weeks ago even though the meeting was over. Last night, the speakers were so inspiring and comforting that I honestly felt like crying. I had another miserable Christmas, missed weddings, funerals, unable to comfort sick relatives, see my parents, sisters, brothers and nieces and nephews. I never felt like I had a right to feel bad or mad. Now I realize that I should feel angry. I have always believed that passion is the motivating factor behind EVERY success story. I was really impressed with the energy in the room - the speakers, the crowd and all the volunteers.

I somehow fell into PR through working in the film business at home and in NYC. I spoke briefly with Niall McDowd and told him that I would like to help by trying to enlist as many Irish or Irish American celebrities as possible to endorse the campaign and generate as much buzz and media coverage as possible. The combined efforts of us undocumented, our wonderful advisory board, Niall, Ciaran and Kelly, the volunteers should make us very a powerful group.

I will definitely be going to DC and I want Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Bono, The Corrs to come too. We need these people to help leverage media and make the campaign as high profile as possible. I am confident that we could get generous Irish American people to sponsor travel if needs be. We need quotes and words of support as this will raise our profile and educate people in a positive way.

Business owners especially those in the construction business should reach out to their workers and make sure that everybody knows about the ILIR. I will be reaching out to as many influential people as possible.

My Irish American cousins are behind me. My American friends are behind me. America still loves us but they are not aware of the seriousness of the situation. Just this morning, my 12 year old cousin Mickey said "If Poppy and Grandma didn't come here on a boat from Ireland, I would not exist and he also said "I would be in tears if you had to leave." He even wants to lobby in DC, God love him.

We are unified and I am glad. I have managed to get some work in the Arts but it has been a hustle and a struggle. I feel worried, alienated, guilty, hampered and anxious and my attempts to block it out are failing more and more as time goes by. We should not be criminalized and I will do everything I can to spread the word and force the senators to step up and help us in a positive way. I am so over the Xenophobia. The action component is what we Irish need. We stuck it out here. I have had so many people say "You are educated, why do you want to be in a country that does not want you or care about you? It's getting harder to defend my reasons for being here, seriously. We are living under unnecessary duress and it is not fair. We are good, honest, hard-working, creative, funny people and we deserve better.

Let’s make it happen, I am not disappearing under the radar any more. Being labeled "an illegal alien" is really insulting. I really admired the two female speakers who took to the podium last night- Good Job Girls. HE WHO DARES, WINS!!! Now we need some good news!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your words are very encouraging Breda but it seems risky and scary to fight sometimes. I know that it has to be done but I find myself holding back often for fear of being caught. I have started emails to senators and then deleted them for fear of being tracked down. I feel totally paranoid and I'm not even the Irish immigrant, my husband is and he has been in this country for 16 years. We have a baby now so my fears are greater. Without a child my thoughts were "Well if something happens I guess we'll go live in Ireland for a few years.." but now I could never take my child away from her homeland, her grandparents and people who love her. She is an American, like her mother and I don't want to live in Ireland! It is infuriating and we feel powerless. It doesn't matter that I am American because my husband's status affects me just as much. I see how it ties into his self esteem and I feel so sad when I see the look on his face when someone asks him if he has a green card (which is such a personal question) and my honest husband has to lie which makes him feel like a loser. I guess our story is just one of the many but I'm going to try to remain optimistic that things will work out and I am planning on having the few friends and family who know about my husband's status send letters to senators. It is hard to enlist help for the cause when you have to keep this dreadful secret. Good luck with all your efforts and stay strong!

miriam said...

breda,thank you for all your words of encouragement and support . Yes , we all have to support this extremely important cause .And it is insulting to be labelled as an "illegal alien.We are honest ,hard working educated and funny people and we deserv better.Keep up the good work.See you in DC,
Mary, (one of the girls who spoke)(

Anonymous said...

Well said Breda. See you in DC.

Paddy Cakes said...

Be that as it may, didn't you make a contract with the American Department of State when you accepted your tourist visa? On the one side, the US government promised you safe passage, protection, and legitimacy. On your side, you promised to leave the country when the visa expired. You have violated that contract, and can no longer enjoy the benefits of that contract. Besides, you make it so hard for ever other foreign national who wishes to visit the States.

Briege said...

I'm scared too, I was nervous in Woodside but I think the risk is worh it. It is good that your husband has
your support and from what I am reading and hearing, support is mounting and the campaign's mission is garnerning some much-needed buzz.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

If you are an American why don't you sponsor your husband for his Green Card?????????

Anonymous said...

Yeah I thought if you were married you were put in the system for a green card and then citizenship ???? Lets stick together and hopefully all will turn out for the best.

Kerry/NY

jazzette said...

Marrage does not always lead to a green card. If the person enter without inspection or has overstayed the visitors visa they have to go home to adjust their status. The minute they go home a 5 year, 10 year or lifetime bann is applied. Then the sponsor has to file a 601 hardship and they are not always approved even if you have kids. A great web site that has given me lots of information is immigrate2us.net, they are people helping each other with this horrible immigration system.

Good Luck to all, my husband (EWI) and I (USC) are in the same boat.

I pray everyday for a way for us to stay together here because I have an 81 year old dad, I am his only person and he is too old to move to Ireland (he is a USC from Germany) and I can't leave him in his old age.

HAVE EVERYONE YOU KNOW CONTACT THEIR SENATORS. THE TIME IS NOW.

JAZZETTE

clare barrett said...

we need to fight for these visas if not 4 our selves then for all the irish men & women who have helped build america to be the country it is today. those irish who fought in the wars and gave their lives, & still its now 2006 and we are still trying to get to be citizens in a country that our ancestors gave sweat & blood for!!
time to stand up

Wild Eyed Rover said...

Anonymous,
You really need to see an immigration attorney. There should be no reason why you cannot sponsor your husband for his green card, even if he overstayed.

My husband and I were in the same boat when we got married 5 years ago. It took time, patience, dilligence, and money (for attorneys and penalties), but he very recently received his permanent alien card.

To Breda and everyone else - our thoughts, prayers, hearts, pens, and feet are with you. We've been writing, and now we'll march, to support the McCain-Kennedy Bill. The only thing really criminal about the state of our present immigration legislation is the contemplation of making decent, caring, hard-working immigrants who have made their lives here and contributed to society criminals!!!

And as for Paddycakes... contracts are broken every day. Get over it!! The government should spend more time tracking down the real criminal element - like those who had student visas to learn to fly planes - and give everyone else a fair chance. All these immigrants who are fighting for immigration reform want to become legal and are speaking out. It's the ones in the shadows who say nothing and have no interest in becoming legitimate that we should be worried about!

Samantha said...

Hello Paddy cakes, your comments are so disheartening do you really know what you are saying. There is no contract for the Irish to come here and work. A quick history lesson prior to the 1965 immigration act seventeen thosand visas a year were given to Ireland thats why all the great Irish Americans existed in this country, the front door was open. For us it has been locked with only two hundred and forty given now. The 1965 immigration act locked the Irish out, so they came anyway "no one shouted stop". You are wrong to judge the Irish for over staying their tourist visa. In other countries where the Irish go to work they apply for a visa because there is a system where by they can. If there was a system here you bet you bottom dollar they would avail of it. Do not blame these young Irish people for a broken immigration system. You should be proud of these tenacious hard working young Irish people who love America. The only thing an Irish man ever looked for in this country was a job. When the Irish men died on the battlefields of freedom for America there was no question of are you planing on overstaying your tourist visa. When America called Ireland answered. I am delighted to say that the two leading senators for the presidency in the next race agree with me and the ILIR that they should have an oppertunity to adjust their satus regardless of tourist violation and not with you. I am one of the undocumented girls that speak at the meetings and I want to thank you Breda for your inspiring words, hang in there happy Saint Patricks Day do not dispare our day will come.

John said...

I oppose all illegal immigration. I am for anyone legally becoming and American, but not those who consider themselves: Irish American, African American, German American, Mexican American etc. I also support making Mexico the 51st state would stop a lot of problems but I digress. We cannot be a nation of squabbling nationalities. You cannot serve two masters, someone wiser then I said that. If you go back in history far enough we all did not come from the country we call home. So when do we draw the line 50 yrs, 100 yrs, a 1000 yrs? Illegal immigration is just that- illegal. If I broke a US law I would not receive amnesty, but a fine, jail time or both. Why do you think this is different. Look at Ireland now. Some American's of Irish descent are returning, buying up the land and raising prices. Some businesses are hiring non-irish workers. I call that poetic justice. Almost everyone believes that seniority on the job should mean something, then why do we not think seniority as a citizen should not also mean something?

I will contact my senator, other politicians, Project USA and let them know how I feel. If you want to be an American I will support you if you want to be Irish I will not.

Briege said...

The salient pattern I notice from all those who oppose illegal immigration on this blog is that they make no sense?? NONE of the arguments can properly be substantiated. You are so right Samantha disheartening and very annoying. Good job we have brains and thick skins!

breda

Paddycakes said...

Samatha - maybe you misunderstood. A "visa" is the contract to which I referring. You say the Irish are coming anyway and nobody's shouting stop. I think lots of people are shouting "stop" - the law for one thing. And most Americans - like me . I don't judge the illegal Irish, the law does that.

You can thank Ted Kennedy for the 1965 immigration act, which incidentally actually increased the overall numbers of immigrants coming to the US, and directly led to the messy situation we have today.

As far as the Irish who died on the battlefield, the Civil War comes to mind. They fought in the Revolutionary war as well, and many of the founders of the US, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, etc. were Protestant Scotch-Irish. During the Mexican-American war, the Irish brigade deserted; during World War II, the Irish were neutral; In Vietnam and Korea, and Iraq, the Irish sent no troops.

There are other things an Irish man ever looks for in this country besides a job - a drink, yankee dollars, the craic, and a house, and a family, the list goes on...

If the US has a broken immigration system, which country has one that is 'fixed'? How many visas does Ireland issue to Americans? Irish voters last year voted down the practice of "citizenship by birth". How can you blame America for wanting to do the same? I visited Ireland several times, and I became well aware that if i overstayed my tourist visa, I would have been swiftly and expedicously removed from the country. This notion that there is some special relationship between the US and Ireland which permits the suspension of the laws is nonsense.

Let's see, the leading Senators you mention must be McCain and Clinton. Do you really think either would care about an impotent constituency that can do nothing to help them achieve that high office? These two are masters of the doublespeak.

You can't change the world, but you still need to live in it. So, take care of yourself, and don't be fooled by anyone trying to sell you the American dream or the brooklyn bridge. The American Dream is for Americans. And besides, it is only a dream - something that exists only in the imagination and in Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

Hey Breda, if you are so bloody homesick, go home and have a good Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I am like anonymous only I am the Irish and my husband the American citizen. He was born in New York, I met him while I still lived at home and we got married in New York four years ago. We have a baby girl and like you, I can't take her away from her paternal grandparents. We both work, but can't afford to raise a family, pay rent and the high fees required to legalize me. Although legally married, I have no rights here, I work illegally, no health care, nothing. I tried to get health insurance but was turned down due to no ss#. I only came to America because of my husband whose parents need assistance from time to time. I love USA, but I do believe that Ireland has a better standard of living. If I go home now, I will never be allowed to return with my daughter. For people like me and your husband, there is no freedom here. We are trapped, all because we fell in love and married Americans. We didn't come here for a better life, (I owned my own house, car, good career, I speak 5 languages). I want to be free to go home when I please. travel the world at a whim, buy a car, just get back to real life.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit confused about the problem here - if a non-citizen is here without a visa, or an expired one etc. then they are in violation of US law. How hard a person works, how nice they are to others, how much their grandparents did for the US....none of that matters.
As to the label "illegal alien" that is the perfect description for what you are. I wouldn't fear the agents of the government too much - they are woefully inefficient at deporting aliens.

Anonymous said...

Illegal is illegal. Us American born decendents have got to see our country go to ruin because of immigration-mass illegal immigration. I'm all for sealed borders period.

Compare your numbers with the millions of Mexicans, Asians and others rushing in crippling our resources. Don't see it? Then your not worthy of being an American because of your self-interests. Your criminals, and are saying to hell with America, globalism for the church, heritage be damned. I don't care how long anyones been here, it shows how our justice system and port security has failed the U.S.

So sorry. The Irish ploy will not work with me while the country falls into more ruin. Sorry you can't see your being used, breaking OUR laws and so self-serving.

Sorry, all good things must come to an end. Laws are laws. The church should shut up as well as McCain and Kennedy.

Corruption and crime really pays.

Anonymous said...

The last 2 anonymous friends,id just like to say ''get your heads out of yer behinds!''.And while yer at it,grow a conscience!

Anonymous said...

Okay - I've read enough. To all the other anonymous ignorant idiots in this particualar discussion - let me offer up a suggestion to you - Find out where your ancestors came from and pack up and go there. Because without them - you wouldn't be here. And don't tell me you would - because with attitudes like yours - you'd never leave the country of your origin. You wouldn't have the guts to stand up and fight for what is right. You'll sit on your so called laurels and tell everyone else who is right and who is wrong!

To Breda and Samantha - keep it up girls and know that you have lots of company in Rockland County! We'll fight for your right to stay here! This country was founded on immigrants and anyone who says differently - I suggest you study the history of the United States of America! Without immigration - this country would never have flourished the way it has.

This country owes everything it has to immigration and without it - we will falter. Make no mistake about that. Immigrants can survive without us - but we will not survive without immigrants.

paddy o'furniture said...

Who you calling "ignorant idiots"?

Without illegal immigration, this nation would not be at war in Iraq. Illegal immigration is a crime. It is against the law. How can you call yourself law abiding, when you are violating the law by definition? This country was not built by immigrants, this country was built by Americans. An illegal alien, some foreign national with an expired visa, or a unauthorized border-crosser is not an immigrant. An immigrant is a holder of an immigrant visa, also known as a green card.

I'm calling your bluff. Why don't you comply with you own suggestion, and leave. (i.e go home!). You don't have the guts. How dare you.

Anonymous said...

None of you are true Americans the only true Americans are the Indians. These illegals as you all call them are your neighbors and probably have waited on you at a restaurant, repaired or built Your home, etc It is well past time to let these people who have already been here get the green card so they can pay taxes and lead a more productive life and be able to go back to their native country for sick or dying relatives. I shall hope that you never have to ask for assistance from one of these so called "illegals" because if it be known your fellow Americans would not.

Anonymous said...

Paddy cakes Samantha here,
I know the Kennedys introduced the act but regardless of who introduced the 1965 immigration act we are all agreeing that an injustice was done. If the Irish want to live in America they can not get a visa we need to reform the system so they can.

As for the military reference the fighting Irish did not come from the sky. What about the fighting 69th. or the Irish brothers the Sullivans that were killed that inspired the movie saving private Ryan. The most decorated ethnic group in the history of the American military is the Irish. So many generals like Sheridan believed to have been born in Co Cavan and you know the English are recorded as saying that they lost America because of the Irish. As for the neautrality of Ireland I was not originally referrring to the Irish in Ireland I was referring to the loyality the Irish here showed to their new great home.

Protestant Irish or Catholic Irish you are still from Ireland. Some of Irelands greatest hereos where protestant such as Wolfe Tone and Charles Stewart Parnell.

The Irish died in American uniforms in world war one, world war two, Vietnam and Korea. Like all the other American boys of different ethnic background they were proud to serve their country.
Which brings me to my final point do not compare America's immigration policy to other European countries such as Ireland because it makes no sense. America's social philosophy is based on the idea that you come from different countries and join in as part of America maybe that is why I love this country so much because here everyone is a contender. And perhaps you are on to something there a trade deal where Americans can get visa's for Ireland and Irish for America that would take care of the undocumented Irish in America.

I am not gulable I just grew up in Europe in a different social environment and my crime is that I prefer it here. It suits me. People in Ireland even within my own family have a hard time understanding that but I do not.
The American dream is not Holywood hogwash it is a fact that the Irish who came here and worked did better than if they stayed at home I see this everyday it is a simple fact that it is easier to move up the ladder of life here than in Ireland as controversial as that maybe I know it to be true I have tried it in both places.

I have a lot to be thankful for but I can not move on further without a visa. Maybe you just take it for granted maybe I had it harder at the start maybe not. However sixty thosand Irish people live in and love this country everyday and have tried every way to get a visa and now their is a real chance the American goverment may give them and millions of other immigrants like them the opertunity to earn that visa and then I can move on with my life and stand by my choices.

narrowback said...

Hey anonymous It's people like yourself that I'd like to see getting a Green Card. It looks like you actually want to stay in the USA. I have a problem with the Irish people who only want Green Cards so they can go back and forth to Ireland until the day that they go back for good.

narrowback said...

For Claire Barrett. Claire you seem to think that the Irish were the only immigrant group that helped make America the Country that it is today. Claire if you get a Green Card do you intend to stay in the USA and eventually become a US Citizen? If you do then you have my support. If not you don't. There were 64,000 Green cards given to illegal Irish in the 1980's. Most of those green cards are sitting in the wallets of Irish people back in Ireland today. Whole neighborhoods vanished over night in the 1990's here in NYC. Remember Bainbridge? Woodside? For some crazy reason people still refer to Woodside as an Irish neighborhood. It's a Mexican, Ecuadorian, columbian neighborhood today.

Anonymous said...

One correction to Samantha's most recent comment; your crime isn't that you prefer it here, your crime is that you choose to remain here illegally.