Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hello, my name is Bridget

Hi, my name is Bridget.

I came here six years ago from Ireland for a three week holiday and fell in love with America.

I haven't seen my parents or some of our family since I left. Some of the younger children I left behind in Ireland were new born babies. Now that they are older, I can speak to them on the phone, but we have never met and their auntie is a stranger.

I have worked steadily since arriving. I pay my taxes and social security. I have never received a penny back in tax refunds and I understand I am ineligible to claim benefits from the social security system I have been paying into for years. If I get sick or injured I must pay for all doctor and hospital visits.

I have missed lots of special family occasions, including birthdays, christenings, my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, first holy communions, confirmations, and funerals. Two of my closest friends passed away and I could not attend their wakes and funeral services. My sister is getting married next month. I cannot attend the wedding.

Sure, I can always go back to Ireland, get a job and collect government benefits that are unavailable here in the States.

But I love this country and it's now my home. I have been on my own now for six Christmases. I pray to God I will be able to visit my loved ones for Christmas 2006.

A lot of my guy friends have driving licenses that are up for renewal. Of course, they can't renew them as they have no social security number. The only way they can get to and from work is by driving (they can't lug all their tools on the train). Many of these guys have lost their businesses because they cannot drive legally. These are smart, hardworking men who could be working hard building America what is needed and doing a damn fine job of it.

There are an estimated 50, 000 undocumented Irish living and working in America at the moment. Let’s all stand together as one and get our status sorted this year.

There are approximately 50 million Irish-Americans in this country.

Irish-America, we need your support.

Please let your voice be heard.

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