Friday, July 21, 2006

Mary, an Irish visa holder, writes:

I want to write something on this website in regard to the hundreds of Irish H1 Visa workers in America.

First of all, speaking for myself as a H1 visa holder, I want all the undocumented Irish people to know that I support your effort one hundred percent. I believe that all other visa holders, whether they are H1, J1 or any other visa class support you too; at least I hope so.

I have a mix of Irish documented and undocumented friends here in New York. They are equally hard working and equally dedicated to maintaining the lives they lead here in the USA. They are equal in their respect for this nation and for all that it stands for. They are proud to be Irish and just as proud to be in America, whichever way they got here.

They are not equal however when it comes to conversations about going home to see newborn children, attend funerals and weddings of loved ones, or just visit family. When your friends and family that you love and care for are undocumented, you try not to mention your visa much. You think before you complain about your boss or your wages.

You are careful not to go on too much about your problems because nothing you say (and I mean nothing) will ever compare with the pain they will face when there is an emergency at home they cannot attend to. It takes a loving mature friendship to cross the visa or green card divide - I know because I live it.

So again, let me reiterate my support for all the undocumented who desperately want to stay, work and live in America.

I'm glad to be legal, but it didn't fall out of the sky into my lap. I worked hard for it and I was lucky to spot an opportunity and luckier still that it all worked out for me. Now, I get paid a wage that just barely covers my needs. I can't afford a car even though I have the luxury of being allowed a license. Also, like many Americans born in this country, I do not have Health Insurance benefits. So having a visa is no walk in the park; we can be bumped off anytime with no comeback. If the job finishes and they don't want you it's goodbye. What happens to us then after making a life and falling in love here? We have to go too.

I haven't heard much mention of what will happen to visa holders if the path to citizenship comes in - will we be included? No one knows yet. For visa holders, the path to citizenship is equally as long and fragile you have to be here legally for several years before filing for a green card and then you join the queue, same as everyone else with no shortcuts. I have been making calls to Senators and Congressmen. I have attended several fundraising events for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. In my own small way, I tried to lend a hand to raise the profile of the ILIR and the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In fact, I am planning to wear a Legalize the Irish tee shirt to Washington DC next week to attend the House hearings on immigration.

I think all the undocumented Irish in our community should step forward and lend more support to the effort. I cannot understand those few who would sit back and let others carry their load. I just hope that by the time the Green Cards finally do come for the Irish, we can all look back and be proud of the role we played in making it happen.

Mise le meas, Mary, New York


Anonymous said...

I too have many friends from Ireland and the UK who are un-documented, one over 13 years, and yes their biggest fear is to have to go home in an emergency and see their life they have fought hard for in the US disappear as they pass through the airport.

I can't really describe the amazing effort this movement has put in to change immigration policy here and long may it continue until resolution. Perhaps its the cynic in me but it looks like these hearings are just stalling tactics to freeze the issue until after the elections and who knows after that. I read in the press archives about a question being put to Bertie Ahern regarding putting together a bi-lateral visa arrangement between to US and Ireland. It would seem this would be a more palitable arrangement for government here, I am not sure if its easily done but would be interested in hearing anyones knowledge of the process. I know of a similar arrangement between Australia and the US but i think it comes under a trade agreement.

Anyway my story, i came here on a J1 and fell in love with the place. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend college here on an F1 visa. Its tough i live in San Francisco with crazy rent and the need to pay fees which aint cheap. I work pretty much full time, although technically not meant to but thats another story, to pay the bills. Its a bit of a juggling act with work and school to keep my status intact, i am lucky i am able to go home occasionally but it comes at a price, the american way perhaps.

Anyway, i hope everyone gets what they desire. In the end this is a justified fight we are all humans at the end of the day, just with different pieces of paper. Keep up the good work.

Kevin, San Francisco.

Anonymous said...

Being born in the usa of irish parents i am in favor of making my kinsfolk citizens of this country . Now lets never forget the irish built a large percentage of this country on blood , sweat & tears , fought in wars that wiped out a large amount of irish or europeans for transnational interests . Have the irish become expenable & used up for cheaper labor ? The irish fought hard for union labor wages , workers rights from the docks in the harbors & seaports to the railraods and hiways . Seems like the usa corporations are interested only in profits . I hope the irish would support a back to ireland for exiled irish people of generations into north america if the irish so desire to return . Ireland is filling up with multi nationals pushing many irish into the countryside and importing cheap labor mostly non whites that have no irish identity , european culture what so ever . Meanwhile yanks that dream ,yearn , and have fantasy of living in ireland are not given a chance ? So to all irish i support your determination for us citizenship do to the take over of your country from multi-nationals & banksters that have created economic & social duress along with economic plight for middle income if middle income even exista anymore ....


Anonymous said...

I have to respond to some of the statements in the last posting. First, the statement that those going to Ireland are "mostly non whites that have no irish identity, european culture what so ever". Uh, isn't that exactly how the US functions ? Immigrants (such as Irish) that have no American culture what so ever going there, and making American children? If the same thing is happenning in Ireland, that's fantastic. The Polish are now doing in Ireland what the Irish did in the US, help build the infrastructure. You also say that "yanks that dream of living in Ireland are not given a chance", well you may not be aware but any American with an Irish great grandparent can get an Irish passport. What could be more easy than that, especially if you are of Irish parents? As for "I support your determination for us citizenship due to the take over of your country from multi-nationals", this is one of the most ludicrous things (of many) that I have read on this board. The logic (or lack of) is baffling; how does going to the mother of multi-nationals (the US) solve being driven away by multi-nationals ?