Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Volunteers Jay Dooling and Ann Daly arrived at 8:45 AM for the 9:30AM House Know-Nothing hearing in Houston. Here is their report:
There was a large group (100-125) of immigrants supporting the Senate bill for comprehensive imigration refrorm outside the hearing.
There were about 25 demonstrators supporting the House bill. There were lots of police, but no problems occurred. We didn't even yell nasty things at each other.
The majority of people supporting the Senate bill were from The Metropolitan Organization (TMO). I (Jay) spoke to a leader of the group on the phone before the rally and again the morning before the hearing.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee spoke to the crowd right before the hearing. She did a very good job.
I spoke with her as we were both going through security at the same time. I thanked her for coming out to the St Patrick's Parade in Houston a couple of years ago. She was there the same year, Sila de Valera was our guest minister.
We got on the same elevator with Representative Jackson Lee and started politicking on the way up. I told her that the Irish community was concerned about the fate of the 50,000 undocumented Irish in America. The Congresswoman told me she had hosted some of 'my people' (ILIR volunteers) in her office in Washington and that she understood how deportation would effect Irish American families. She asked me again about how many were undocumented.
We were fortunate to get into the hearing. Many who were outside did not get in. But then that could have been their choice, because they did not pack us in that tight.
When Representative Jackson-Lee began her opening remarks, she explained that immigration was a wide-ranging issue and used our conversation as an example. She said she was recently reminded of the 50,000 undocumented Irish workers in the United States today. She later listed Ireland as one of those countries that would be affected by whatever law is passed.
The testimony of the witnesses (all law enforcement personnel) appeared scripted to support the argument that law enforcement agencies need money to police the border. It was clearly designed to blame immigrants as the source of a lot of crime.
Representative Jackson-Lee did a good job of pointing out that drugs, organized crime & gangs were the major cause of crime on the border and that most (99+%) undocumented immigrants came here to work and make an honest living, not to commit crimes.
Pictures to follow.