Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Marie Claire profiles Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform volunteer
A report by Sarah Garland in the current September 2006 issue (page 124) of Marie Claire profiles an Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform volunteer and undocumented Irish immigrant Samantha in an article titled "Immigrant Nation."
Here is an excerpt:
"After I graduated from college in '97, I came to New York to visit for a couple of months. I found a job bartending and made some good friends. Months quickly turned into years. I moved back to Ireland for a while, but I was miserable. There was nothing for me there, so I returned to the U.S. If someone had told me then that in 2006 I would still be undocumented and working as a bartender, I'd have said, "Are you crazy?" And yet, here I am.
For five years, I waited and hoped. I was sure that any day, Congress would pass a law allowing immigrants with steady jobs to stay here. In the meantime, I got married (to an undocumented Irishman), went back to school [where she is currently working on a Master's Degree in Psychology], and tried to live life as normally as possible. But I can't travel home to see my family. I miss funerals and weddings, and I can't move ahead with my career because I have to take jobs that pay cash. I haven't had children because what if I'm deported? It's like somebody pressed pause on my life plans.
From the outside, it probably sounds crazy that anyone would want to live like this, but when you're on the inside, you just get on with it. You're always thinking, I'm going to get the visa, I can't live like this forever, something is definitely going to happen.
Then I realized nothing would happen if I didn't get involved. I joined the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and began speaking out at marches and meeting with members of Congress. The goal of the group is comprehensive immigration reform, not just for Irish people, but for every immigrant group in America.
I turned 31 in July, and there are so many things I want to do in life - set up my own counseling program, start a family - but I can't do them without a visa. So I'm focused on getting Congress to pass this bill. Without it, I lose everything I've dreamed about.