"Boots on the ground" that is what Congressman Reyes said was needed at the border and not a fence at the joint House hearing on border security and immigration in Washington on Thurs July 20th. I laughed to myself because it is a phrase the ILIR could use to describe the lobbying effort of the Irish American community to legalize the Irish.
The ILIR were well on time lining up before the hearing started thus securing the precious few seats available in the magnificent Armed Services room of the Rayburn building. We wore our simple message on our simple t shirts in white and green "legalize the Irish" and as usual it attracted lots of attention including a double check look from Congressman Sensenbrenner. We received an extremely hearty welcome from a Congressman I won't mention, he confessed to us that we should never stop fighting for the greencards for the Irish because his grandfather came to the United States illegally from Co Cork and he seemed mighty glad he did and so did we up Cork.
Congressman KIldee stopped us to tell us he was extremely proud of his Irish heritage and that we are a nation of immigrants, that his daughter is married to a Dubliner and living in Dublin and he believed we can win the visas so up the Dubs.
The hearing was longer than most with a long list of speakers to testify on whether a fence should be built along the Mexican border. The general consensus was that of course we should secure the border but a working immigration system is also needed and a comprehensive approach is the best way forward so why all the talking and no action I thought.
The gentleman in uniform beside me was with Congressman Reyes to testify he was a customs and border enforcement officer, Congressman Reyes said that he felt that the hearings were more about politics than policy and that the American people would be far better served if Congress was instead working to reach a compromise on comprehensive border security and immigration. I couldn't agree more talk is cheap the Senate bill also has some fencing in it, more boots on the ground and border technology as well as a guest worker programme and a pathway to citizenship so go to conference.