Monday, January 30, 2006

The Irish American ties

With regard to the current debate, please allow me to raise a few points which may be of use to others in forming a positive coalition of action.
In 1994 George W. Bush defeated Ann Richards for the Governorship of Texas. This was accomplished with the help of a P.R executive, Rob Allyn, who subsequently helped Mr. Bush with both of his successful Presidential bids. Mr. Allyn, who also helped Mexican President Fox in his electoral campaigns, has recently been retained by Mr. Fox, ostensibly to `market` Mexico`s input and approach to the impending U.S Immigration legislation. Indeed, it has been suggested that Mr. Allyn`s Mexican brief has the tacit encouragement of the U.S Executive Branch. This would seem to make sense, if it is accepted that President Bush has a very positive, indeed liberal view on immigration.
During the 2000 election, one of the central talking points of the campaign was Immigration Reform. When Mr. Bush became President, the general perception was that significant progress was about eighteen months down the road, and I well remember my heart skipping a beat at the prospects
Unfortunately, this country suffered a devastating blow on the 11th of September, 2001 and, while we all have war stories from that day of infamy, and grieved with the rest of America, life went on.
In the past few years, security at ports, airports and the U.S/Canada border have been greatly enhanced, and recently, much media attention has been afforded to the problems posed by illegal entry from the south. Unlawful infringments are classified as either Mexican or OTM (other than Mexican). In my opinion, there is a state of near-paranoia that people of nefarious intent could breach the U.S/Mexican border, bringing in weapons with them. While it is outrageous that any nation should be forced to counter such evil ideology, it is a fact that these are the times we live in.
A few years ago, I was in a chain bookshop in Manhattan, and wanting to purchase a book, I went to an assistant. When I told her that the book was called `How The Irish Saved Civilization`, she asked me if there was such a book, perplexedly. I bought two copies of Tomas Cahill`s masterpiece, got one of them wrapped, and gave it to her.
Let us all, for the next few months, continue to be upbeat and goodhumoured, and accentuate the greatest thing we`ve brought to this Nation; our Irishness, and our love of life. America and Ireland have, for centuries, enjoyed a close relationship.America never had a more constant, unwavering, loyal friend on the international stage, and the onus is on all of us to maintain and strengthen these ties.
At a gathering of the American Bar Association in Dublin, some time in 2000, Tanaiste/ Deputy Irish Prime Minister Mary Harney, in the course of her speech, stated;"Geographically we are closer to Berlin than Boston. Spiritually we are probably a lot closer to Boston than Berlin". Hopefully, the same spiritual closeness will resonate in our favour when the U.S Senate deliberates our status in the next few months.
Thank You To A Great Movement,
Le Meas,

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Comment from an Irish American

I am an Irish American whose parents came from Clare and I believe the Irish have been nothing but a great help to this country. Myself and my friends will do everything in our power to help your cause. This kind of treatment is a disgrace for a country founded on immigration. I am sure we all remember what it says on the Statue of Liberty.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Waiting Paddy: I'd love to pay taxes...

Well hi there - my Mam texted me today to ask me to listen to the Pat Kenny show on RTE! Irish Radio Station - which was about the scams about the green cards - I have been living here undocumented for nearly 2 years. I came over here for the love of someone, I have enough money to live on, I don't take advantage of anything but like everyone else, can't get a driver's licence etc and as result have a big fear of getting ill or being in a car smash - My brother is a US citizen and sponsored me and it, by all accounts can take up to 14 years - I have outstayed my visitors visa now by 12 months and like everyone else wonder what will happen if something happens at home that I have to go home?? I think it is stupid - If I don't have to work, at least I should be able to get a driver's licence - I'm still working on my bank account in europe so that's not a problem. I would be more that willing to pay taxes etc, but this country won't let me - what's that all about? Look at the way Ireland has changed now - and after all - America has been built on immigration - without us - America wouldn't be as good as it is???? I need some real help. Thank you for listening. Your's... a waiting paddy!

Susanne: And yet another Irish immigrant gives up on America

An Irish immigrant I’ve known for the past seven years came into the restaurant where I bartend and told me he is moving home next month. I'm still shocked. This guy loves New York and has a great life here but things have gotten so desperate for the undocumented that he says he can't take it anymore. Basically, he can’t renew his driving license; and that's his life, that's how he gets to work.

I've all sorts of mixed feelings now. My own licence expires this year and I can't renew it either. I'm going over the same ground again, asking myself again all the despairing questions about my life here as an undocumented immigrant.

There are thousands of Irish immigrants in this same tragic situation and we're staying here, waiting and hoping for the McCain/Kennedy bill. It really is the only light at the end of this dark tunnel.

You feel so scared, lonely and isolated when you are undocumented but mostly you feel guilty about putting everything and everyone on hold while you wait.

I'm trying to take classes at college and I have to pay out of state tuition fees because I'm undocumented. It was embarrassing and humiliating at registration when I tried to explain why I had no social security number but can I please take classes anyway. Every time I sign up for a new class of my master’s at CUNY I go through the same thing.

If the bill gets passed my fees will be halved because I will be an in-state resident, just another of the many ways McCain/Kennedy would help me and thousands like me.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Siobhan: Have the succesful Irish forgotten where they came from?

I arrived in Boston in May 1997, and spent an amazing summer on Cape Cod. We left that September, having overstayed our 90-day visa waiver. I was only 21 and wasn't really thinking too far into the future. I returned to Boston in January 1998 and that was the last time I saw Ireland. I stayed in Massachusetts until late in 1999 and headed to New York to experience something different, not really thinking of visas or consequences at this point. Having fallen in love with New York and thriving there, I still live there, I love my job, but plan to go home in May permanently.

I do regret having stayed here so long illegally, I suppose I didn't see the time go really. I have traveled all over this beautiful country, and would have liked to build a real life here, but opportunities to do this aren't looking good at the minute. I really hope things pick up for the other illegals in America. Despite what anyone says we do jobs no Americans will do, and we do jobs no American will do as well as we can.

I believe the country needs us and it is a huge mistake to criminalize us, we are, for the best part, good people, hard workers who want nothing more than to be able to take part in American life, open a bank account, drive a car, go to school, visit the doctor, own a house, visit home without the fear of losing everything we have worked so hard for, basic things so many take for granted. America was my home for the past nine years, despite my lack of status, but I have given up on the government, and the Irish American's who don't seem to care about us anymore. There are so many influential Naturalized Irish here, with a huge voice who DO NOT USE IT. They have forgotten about us even though we work for them and run their multi- million dollar businesses, they have forgotten where they came from.

Myriam: What's Another Year?

What's another year? That old Johnny Logan Eurovision song is playing in my head. I am driving myself crazy and everyone around me with my melodious voice. What's another year? I keep saying to myself, over and over. I am trying to justify to myself and to my family why I am still here after 15 years and still undocumented. They can not understand why I would want to live in this country and not get documented, but it's not as if I don't want to get documented.

Every year I live in hope that this is the year; this is the year that we'll get legalized. Then it will all have been worth it. Let's face it, another year is nothing when you're in your 20s; like I was when I came to the USA. Like everyone else, I came for the craic and the adventure.
But now I'm in my 30s and life has changed. I want a different life, my priorities are different I do not want to live in the shadows anymore.

America has being my home for 15 years that is a lifetime, I love it here, and I want to stay here but I am at my wit's end. I need to be become a legal resident, I need to be able to live, work and play without looking over my shoulder. The time is now for action; All Irish, Irish-American and anyone else who would like to join in on the lobbying effort has got to do so now. The McCain Kennedy bill is the best solution, so the next few weeks and months are vital.

We've got to email and fax your local congressman/woman, your local senator and get the word out - SUPPORT THE McCAIN/KENNEDY BILL. What's another year? Well this is the year for our voices to be heard. And hopefully we'll hear it in Rory Dolan's in Yonkers on January 27th.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Susanne: Loved and hated at the same time...

Living as an undocumented Irish person in America is kind of like being loved and hated equally at the same time. You have so many positive aspects to your life and people who feel so positive about you; employers, American friends etc and then so many negative and fearful aspects. The former inspire you to stay while the latter urge you to pack up and go.

The Irish undocumented immigrants live here in America because they love the way of life and the opportunities afforded them in this great vast country in spite of the overwhelming fear of being undocumented.

On a daily basis our American dream turns into a nightmare. What if I get hurt badly or sick? I have no medical insurance because I have no social security number. What if a close family member gets sick or, the unthinkable, actually dies? Do I go home and lose my whole life here to attend the funeral.

I can not access the jobs I have the education and skills for without working papers so I work the only jobs that are available to the undocumented.

Now you can not renew your driving license another nail in the coffin, you can’t get a library card never mind a green one.

I recently read the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas and the last line of this book so adequately describes why me and thousands of Irish like me stay on, the line is simply “wait and hope” and that’s what we have been doing. That’s how we justify this to ourselves and to our families back home in Ireland, we will hang on another year.

Now I see that for the first time in a long time the undocumented Irish have real cause for hope from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

The Kennedy/McCain bill is our chance this year but only if we put weight behind it and support this bill.

The upcoming meeting in Rory Dolan’s in Yonkers on the 27th of this month is the first step and everyone that can possibly attend defiantly should, there is great solidarity in numbers. We are not alone a lot of people with the opportunities to bring about change are involved in this effort. Hopefully the undocumented Irish will wait no longer.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Christmas blues

I've been in the US on and off since 1988 and this is about the worst time I can remember for being an undocumented worker.

There seems to be no tolerance of immigrants anymore, we're all written off as a threat to the country's security, but we're Americans really, at the end of the day.

There's something ridiculously maudlin about hearing all those songs about going "home" at Christmas when you don't dare board a plane for fear of being banned from re-entry.

The old Irish songs used to commemorate the people who couldn't return to Ireland because the journey was too arduous. It's just as arduous now, even though it's only a five-hour plane ride.

There has to be a sensible way out of this. I hope so, because I don't think I can spend another 12 months living in the shadows.