Sunday, September 10, 2006

From today's Austin Statesman

Other groups push for immigration reform

Not all illegal immigrants are from Latin America; a number of them are from Asia, Europe.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

WASHINGTON — There are certain things you can guarantee at a Capitol Hill immigration hearing: a forceful speech about national sovereignty, a partisan debate over the meaning of amnesty and, without fail, some green-and-white T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Legalize the Irish."

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which deploys members to attend congressional hearings, is one of many non-Hispanic organizations pushing for legislation to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

Although most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States are from Mexico and other Latin American countries, 1.5 million are from Asia, 600,000 are from Europe and Canada, and 400,000 are from Africa and other nations, according to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

Groups representing many regions — from the large nations of India and China to the small island states of the Caribbean — are pressuring Congress to change immigration laws.

Niall O'Dowd, chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said his group was formed last year in response to the growing struggles of Irish illegal immigrants in the United States, which he estimates number 50,000 to 60,000.

O'Dowd said that many Irish came to the United States illegally and can no longer travel home because of security measures imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, often missing funerals and family emergencies.

In addition, he said, many have not been able to renew their driver's licenses, leading to situations in which parents cannot drive their kids to school.

"We want to impress on all these congressmen that this is a human issue," O'Dowd said.
The Irish group endorses a bipartisan measure that passed the Senate this year which establishes a large guest worker program and a path to citizenship for current illegal immigrants.

Under the measure, illegal immigrants who have been in the United States five years or longer could stay and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship if they have no criminal record, pay more than $3,000 in fines and back taxes and meet English requirements.

The House passed a significantly different immigration bill in December. The House bill makes an illegal presence in the United States a felony and does not include a temporary worker program or a path to legalization for illegal immigrants.

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U. Jean O'Neil said...

"can no longer travel home". I love the spin, and can not believe the nerve of the author. In truth, this criminal decided to break the law and just doesn't want to get caught.

Anonymous said...

Some nerve? "[T]he author" is merely paraphrasing Niall O'Dowd's statement.

Who is "this criminal" and what "crime" has "this criminal" committed?

u. jean o'neil said...

The "criminal" is the illegal alien, who is a "lawbreaker" by definition. The crime is various violations of US Federal immigrations laws, such as illegal entry without inspection and violating terms of visa. The Republic of Ireland has similar laws.

In truth, the illegal alien is not prevented from re-entering the Irish Republic in order to attend a funeral or family event. Technically, he can return home to Ireland and nobody will stop him unless hee's wanted for another crime in Ireland. However, he definitely does raise a red flag if he tries to re-enter the US. Immigration authorities will quickly see that he has violated US immigration laws in the past, and will be denied re-entry. Much the same way, a fugitive is stopped for running a red light, and is discovered to have jumped bail in Sante Fe.

Simply put - crime does not pay.

Robert "Yank" Smith said...

You implication that hardworking, home-owning, family-oriented undocumented Irish are fugitive felons is just plain crazy.

The undocumented Irish who left Ireland years ago as young men and women have matured into business owners with families.

They love this country so much that they are willing to stay here isolated from their family and friends in Ireland.

We are lucky to have these people in our country and they should be given a chance to pay civil penalties and stay here legally.

u. jean o'neil said...


Are you talking about Irish who have been here 20 years or more? Have bought overpriced homes and carry large mortgages? Volunteer with Boys Scouts, Church choir, Rotary, Elks, and AOH? Walk little old ladies across the street? Prevent bank robberies with their bare hands? Pay extra taxes - more than what's due? Hire only legal workers, including nannies and gardners? Never swear or curse? Receive Holy Communion every Sunday?
Are these the kind of people you're talking about?

Anonymous said...


u. jean o'neil said...

Well, then, let's roll out the red carpet.