A federal hearing on immigration law held at the State House yesterday focused as much on political fingerpointing as it did on border security and immigrant status.Five members of the House Judiciary Committee came to New Hampshire as part of a national tour to debate differing immigration bills in the House and Senate.
The House bill focuses almost entirely on beefing up border security and classifying undocumented immigrants as felons, while the Senate bill calls for changes at the border and a plan to give illegal immigrants now in the United States a path to legal work and citizenship.
The hearing was open to the public, but no one from the audience was allowed to speak. Brief testimony was given from five predetermined witnesses.
Throughout the the hearing and in press conferences that followed, Democratic committee members blasted Republican leadership for delaying negotiations on the issue by taking the committee on a "political road show," with a stop in a state where two Republican congressman are fighting for their seats. Republicans tried to dispel the accusations and blame senators for the delays.
Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin who sponsored the House bill, said the hearings were meant as an opportunity "to get input from local people." But only one of three speakers chosen by the Republican majority, Rep. Andrew Renzullo, a Hudson Republican, was from New Hampshire.
Before the hearing, a few dozen protestors against the House bill organized outside. Among them was Paul Ladd, who wore a t-shirt that read "LegalizetheIrish.org."
Ladd overstayed a holiday visa in 1995 and runs a construction company in Boston that employs 15 people seasonally. He was arrested last week when he could only show an Irish license when stopped at a commercial checkpoint. He must go to a hearing in December and could be deported within weeks of that meeting.
"It's been the toughest thing I've ever had to deal with," Ladd said. "I don't know where I'd ever start in Ireland."
PAUL IS NOT ALONE.
DON'T LET POLITICIANS BRAND THE 50,000 UNDOCUMENTED IRISH IN AMERICA AS FELONS.
JOIN THE IRISH LOBBY FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM.
LEGALIZE THE IRISH.