Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don't stop the hard work

The passage of the Senate bill was without a doubt a fantastic success I watched the voting with a thumping heart, all the possibilities of normalizing my life getting a job with my degree, seeing my family in Ireland and legitimizing myself finally in America seem to be getting one step closer. The Senate bill is the first hurdle we have jumped but now is not the time to rest on our laurels.
Fervent continued commitment is what is called for now the most intense effort so far is what we need from everyone, especially that lobby day in Washington on June 28th if you are an Irish immigrant and you need a greencard the answer is simple get on that bus to Washington this is your chance, your time to stand up for what happened in 1965 when the Irish stopped getting their greencards if you love America enough to want to stay here then you must secure your future in it.

This time the ball is in our court we have picked it up but we can not drop it now, it can be the best of times or the worst of times. Everyone must put their shoulder to the wheel now and push. What is called for is guts and guile if we are determined we can get this bill through the house it is our time and opportunity to legalize the Irish and where our T shirt with pride I am going to Washington again with my American friends and family who want to lobby and convince Congress that they want a way for me to stay in America and everybody else should too if we succeed the Irish will never again have to live in the shadows, miss out on a family funeral back in Ireland or miss future opportunities in this great nation that they are proud to call home.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Irish nationals smuggled into U.S. from Canada via pub

A "robust Irish smuggling ring" operating out of a popular pub in Buffalo has been smuggling dozens of Irish citizens from Canada into the United States for about three years, U.S. court documents show.

The proprietor, bartenders and customers of the pub, which is less than five kilometres from the Peace Bridge border crossing at Fort Erie, Ont., have shuttled across the border as many as 50 Irish nationals, many of whom had previously been deported or denied entry into the United States.

Details of the network, which relied on weaknesses in Canada-U.S. border security, are contained in several recent court files in the United States, including indictments unsealed yesterday against six Irish nationals, two of whom are U.S. citizens.

The focus of the smuggling ring was a popular tavern, Campbell's Pub, founded in 1972 by Hugh B. Campbell, an immigrant from County Mayo on the western coast of Ireland. After he died in 2003, his daughter, Bridget Campbell, took over.

Campbell has admitted her leadership role in the people-smuggling ring.

"Campbell made the preliminary arrangements through third-party 'arrangers' for the Irish aliens to travel to Canada and to a designated point in Fort Erie," says a plea agreement filed in court in Buffalo.

"Campbell got general descriptions of the persons to be brought into the United States. From acquaintances, Campbell obtained valid [New York] driver's licences resembling the physical descriptions of the Irish aliens," the agreement says.

She then paid some staff members at her pub and regular patrons to drive to Canada and meet the Irish nationals. Typically, two cars were sent -- one to carry the migrant and the other to follow with their luggage.

Once they met up with the migrants in Fort Erie, the conspirators coached them on how to answer questions at the border. Sometimes they took a hat, a pair of eyeglasses or a jacket if it would help in the subterfuge, court documents from several cases show.

They then drove them across the Peace Bridge to Buffalo.

Once across the border, each migrant paid US$1,200 to the driver, who would keep $300, give $100 to the driver carrying the luggage and $50 to anyone serving as a passenger who came to help allay suspicion at the border.

The rest, normally $US750 to US$800, was left at the pub for Campbell.

After paying, the migrants were taken to the bus station or airport to continue on to New York City, Boston or Philadelphia, where many were given jobs in Irish pubs and in construction.

From December, 2003, Campbell arranged to bring between 30 and 50 Irish aliens across the border.

The ring first stumbled on Aug. 18, 2004, when two illegal aliens were stopped at the border. One was allegedly being driven by Shannon Lee, a bartender at the pub. The Irish national was returned to Canada.

Investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents traced the attempt to a larger scheme involving the pub, said Terrance Flynn, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.

Campbell recently pleaded guilty to alien smuggling and agreed to forfeit US$36,000 and two properties in Depew, N.Y., to the U.S. government and to co-operate with the investigation, according to the agreement. She has not yet been sentenced.

A bar patron who acted as a driver has also pleaded guilty. Mr. Lee, the bartender, is still before the courts.

U.S. government officials would not comment on whether there was any connection to the Irish Republican Army or other organizations involved in the long dispute in Ireland.

A staff member answering the phone at Campbell's Pub declined to discuss the incidents.

"These cases appear to have shut down what was an active smuggling pipeline from Canada," Mr. Flynn said.

Left unindicted, however, was anyone involved in the scheme in Canada. The investigation does not seem to have extended across the border.

Several officers and spokespeople for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency said they had no knowledge of the ring or the arrests.

Ahern to lobby in US over illegal immigrants

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern is to travel to the US tomorrow to further lobby Senators to ensure up to 50,000 undocumented Irish can remain there, it emerged today.

The minister revealed a number of meetings would be held in Washington with senior officials involved in drawing up new legislation on immigration reform, including Senator John McCain.

Mr Ahern said he planned to use the 48-hour trip to lobby as many people as possible. "I left it to the last minute to see what the lie of the land was," he said.

"And I just feel that given the importance of getting as good a proposal out of the Senate as possible, and to be fair to all concerned, and indeed President Bush has been very instrumental in effect in knocking heads together.

"I just want to go there to give an Irish perspective to the situation because for a long time a lot of Americans didn't even realise there was an Irish aspect to this issue."

Mr Ahern will also meet with leading lobbyists pushing to ensure the undocumented Irish can stay in the US. The US Senate this week began considering the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

The bill could see penalties imposed on those living and working illegally in the US but also open the door to permanency for millions of others.

The proposed legislation creates a system of penalties for foreign-born residents who entered the country illegally, but it also allows up to 12 million illegals in the US to get on a path to eventual citizenship.

The next few days could prove crucial as Senators prepare to vote on providing a solution for the tens of thousands of undocumented Irish living and working in the US, some of whom have not returned home for several years.

It is hoped the Senate may finish their discussions on the matter towards the end of the week before the Bill is finalised in June. It is understood the new rules will have to be reconciled with separate legislation dealing with border security.

© The Irish Times/

Friday, May 19, 2006

Press Release frm US DOJ RE Irish Smuggling Case

PRESS RELEASE/ May 18, 2006



United States Attorney Terrance P. Flynn announced today the arraignments in the Western District of New York of five (5) Irish nationals who were arrested earlier this month by Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott were Irish nationals James Shiel, age 26, Aiden Tully, age 46, and Caroline McConville, age 38, and Irish nationals and United States resident Sean Whelan, age 33, of Boston, Massachusetts, and United States citizen John McEvoy, age 43, of Yonkers, New York. They are charged in two indictments with various immigration offenses relating to the attempted smugglings of Irish nationals into the United States through Canada.

These appearances are the latest event in the District's ongoing efforts to stem a robust Irish smuggling ring which had been operating between Ireland, Canada, and the United States for the last few years.

In August, 2004, an Irish national by the name of Martina Mannion was caught being smuggled into the United States by Shannon Lee and Michael O'Malley, both of Buffalo, New York. She entered a guilty plea to illegal entry and was returned to Canada. Further investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed that this smuggling attempt was part of a larger scheme being operated out of Campbell's Pub on Niagara Street. Michael O'Malley and the pub's owner, Bridget Campbell, have each entered guilty pleas to various smuggling charges. Campbell has admitted that between 30 to 50 Irish aliens had been smuggled into the United States since December 2003. Shannon Lee, who was a bartender at the pub, is currently facing charges in connection with her role in that smuggling scheme. Assistant United States Attorney Gretchen Wylegala handled these prosecutions.

This office continued to prosecute those found to have been smuggled in over the United States and Canadian border. In February 2005, Irish nationals Ursula Bradley and Sarah Moen pled guilty to illegal entry into the United States. Eleanor Skeeth, also an Irish national, pled guilty in September 2005, as did Walter Drago and Colleen Murray, United States citizens assisting in the smuggling effort. Damien Tracy, an Irish national, pled guilty in December 2005 to smuggling-related charges. Assistant United States Attorney William Gillmeister handled these prosecutions.

Most recently, a federal grand jury handed up two indictments, the first charging Peter Hennessey, an Irish national, now a United States citizen, with encouraging and inducing two (2) Irish nationals to enter the United States, and charging those two (2) Irish nationals, Declan Whelan and Shane Lawlor, with attempting to enter the United States, after having previously been refused entry. Two other Irish nationals, Sean Whelan and John McEvoy, who both reside legally in the United States, are charged with aiding and abetting these efforts. The second Indictment charges Phillip Reilly, an Irish national and United States citizen, with encouraging and inducing three (3) Irish nationals to enter the United States, and charging those three (3) Irish nationals, James Shiel, Aiden Tully and Caroline McConville, with attempting to enter the United States, after having previously been refused entry.

The arraignment today concerns five (5) of the six (6) defendants who were arrested earlier this month. Declan Whelan will be arraigned in the near future. The next court appearance is scheduled for June 20, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., before United States Magistrate Judge Scott.

The current indictments set forth charges carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years for the encouraging and inducement and 2 years for the attempted entry. It should be noted that the fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime . . . is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. (Disciplinary Rule 7-107(B)(6)).

The United States Attorney noted that these cases appear to have shut down what was an active smuggling pipeline from Canada into the United States.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Peter King in The New York Times

The New York Times
May 14, 2006
A Border-Tightening Congressman Has Immigrants in His Own Backyard

SEAFORD, N.Y. — A three-man crew of immigrant laborers had just finished the lawn work at the yellow house: grass trimmed, flower beds neatened, sidewalk edged and swept.

The workers said they did not know the homeowner personally, but the one driving the landscaping truck, Elmer Martinez, 34, said that he must be someone important because of the brass plaque on the front door.

"Congressman Peter T. King," the plaque reads, "3rd District, New York."

It is the modest home in Seaford of Representative King, a co-sponsor of legislation that would make felons of millions of illegal immigrants, tighten security and support the building of a wall along parts of the Mexican border. The bill, called the 2005 Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act, has been passed by the House but not by the Senate.

Pushing a mower onto a nearby lawn, Mr. Martinez, who is from El Salvador, said he disagreed with such measures.

"I think if people come here and work hard, let them stay here," he said. Mr. Martinez has a green card and pays taxes on the $150 a day that he earns, he said. He and his wife, who is from Puerto Rico, have two sons, ages 3 and 5, who are American citizens.

"I came here because I can make better money than in my country," he said. "There, I make $5 for working a whole day."

Another worker in the crew, Alfredo Garcia, 27, said that he, too, had emigrated from El Salvador to have a chance to make more money. Mr. Garcia said he had paid a guide to smuggle him into the United States through a combination of cars and trucks. He later obtained a work permit and legal residency status, he said.

"I paid a lot of money to come here, and I've worked hard in this country," Mr. Garcia said.

He gestured around the neighborhood, a white enclave on the South Shore of Long Island where one can seldom walk a block or two without seeing Spanish-speaking work crews. On a recent Friday morning, a half-dozen crews of Hispanic workers were tending homes within several blocks of Mr. King's house.

Around the corner, a half-dozen workers from Ecuador and Honduras were fitting heavy stone onto a house facade. Nearby, two Guatemalan immigrants were nailing in roofing shingles, and another block down, a trio of Salvadoran immigrants, who said they had each paid several thousand dollars to be smuggled into the United States, were installing a brick driveway.

When Mr. King's children, who are now adults, were young a few decades ago, that type of work was done by white American citizens, usually first- or second-generation descendants of the Irish, Italian and German immigrants who still populate Mr. King's district, which sprawls across suburban neighborhoods of single-family homes in Nassau County and western Suffolk.

But today, Mr. Garcia said, "You'll never see a white guy cutting a lawn around here; Spanish people do all the work in this area."

The third man working for Mr. King's landscaper said he spoke no English and declined to be interviewed.

Their employer, Steven Sander, has long been a neighbor of Mr. King's, grew up with his children and has been cutting his lawn for years.

Mr. King does not make it his business to investigate the legal status of each landscaping employee cutting his lawn, Mr. Sander said, but rather trusts that Mr. Sander is employing legal immigrants. He said that his workers were all legal and that he demanded they have tax identification numbers.

"They pay taxes and pay into Social Security," Mr. Sander said. "I wouldn't hire anyone without seeing their papers and Social Security number. It's too risky as an employer."

In a telephone interview, Representative King, a Republican who was first elected in 1992, said that his stance was not intended to deprive well-intentioned immigrants of the right to work hard for a living. Mr. King voted to remove the felony provisions from his immigration bill, in an amendment that was defeated.

The priority for the country, he said, is the need to "gain control of the borders" for national security.

He stressed the need to "seal the borders and penalize employers who hire illegal immigrants" before adding mechanisms for illegal immigrants to become legal residents.

"I have no problem with increasing the amount of legal immigrants as guest workers, but we have to do it legally," he said. "After 9/11, we don't have the luxury of allowing unlimited illegal immigrants into this country."

Asked about his lawn, he said that Mr. Sander used to play Little League with his son, Sean, and had been doing a great job on his lawn for years. He said he trusted Mr. Sander to ensure that the workers were legal.

Patrick Santivasci, who lives nearby, said he was one of the few homeowners in the neighborhood to still cut their own lawns.

Illegal immigrants, he said, are "taking jobs away from people who really do need them."

"It's wrong that they come here without proper papers," Mr. Santivasci said. "I'm liberal, but you can't milk the system. Ninety percent of them are sneaking their way in. It's a free country, but it's too free."

Another neighbor, Richard A. Yodice, 58, who was walking his dog while Mr. King's landscapers were working at another house, disagreed.

"They're not taking the jobs we would work," Mr. Yodice said. "They're taking the nonskilled jobs. A white kid these days goes to college and gets into a white-collar job. They don't take the lower-end jobs anymore.

"I drive by the 7-Eleven and see hundreds of workers and see 60 or 70 guys swarming a contractor's truck," he said. "I don't care if they're illegal, as long as they're working. I just don't like to see them taking money out of the economy here and sending it home.

"I'm a Republican and I always vote for King and read his columns, but I think he comes down too hard on the immigrants," Mr. Yodice said. "I think he's trying to tie it in with the terrorism issue. You're here and working, maybe that's the answer — if they're legit and working, let them stay."

Down the block, one of the workers putting in the driveway, Jose Pineda, 31, said he had borrowed $6,000 back in El Salvador for a ride in a truck to Los Angeles, and then wired back the payments over a year's time. He paid an immigration lawyer to get a work permit, Mr. Pineda said.

He nodded toward his two workers, his nephew Moses Flores, 24, and his uncle Calixto Pineda, 39, and said they had both immigrated the same way but had paid almost $7,000 each.

Jose Pineda said he had learned masonry by working for Italian bricklayers and then had started his own business and had bought a house in Roosevelt.

"They want to kick all the illegal Spanish workers out, but I don't think Americans want to do these kind of jobs anymore," he said. "They all work in offices with their head, as lawyer or teachers or something. Of course, any illegal people who don't like to work should be sent back."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Will they go or stay!

I have been reading the comments about the ridiculous argument about the Irish running off home as soon as they get their greencards. Please stop one comparing me to someone who chooses this and two judging someone who does. The first point is madness because if I have stayed here in America undocumented and lived with all the dreaded side effects like not getting home to Ireland to see my family then to me it is clear the Irish immigrants who live here undocumented obviously are serious about living in America if they wanted to live in Ireland they would have been long gone because it is so difficult to live here undocumented especially since Sept 11th.

The ILIR are fighting to get these people legalized because this is their home. I am an undocumented Irish immigrant and I do not want to move back to Ireland, like so many of the Irish who will benefit from the current bill. I am not rejecting Ireland I just prefer it here and have been here so long now that this is my home. However to make the point that the Irish undocumented should not be legalized because they might all go home to Ireland one day is ridiculous.

Is this whole debate not about a persons right to make a decision for their own destiny, if a person can pass a criminal background check, find themselves a job and go through an application process can they not immigrate. Yet on the other hand if for whatever reason they may chose to live in a different country, move around or return to their country of origin that is their perogitive. We can not dictate to people where they can and cannot go, its the same as telling someone they cannot change careers or partners or move town or state. The Irish immigrants who wanted to return where well in their rights to do so. I myself have known some Irish Americans who moved to Ireland and got citizenship through their parents because they wanted to experience the country their parents came from. It is unfair to punish the current immigrants because some immigrants in the past who got their visas eventually moved home.
This is all beside the point, the immigrants here now should be offered a way to become legal because as we all well know their is no way for them to do that since the 1965 immigration act. I believe the current immigrants like myself are here to stay we have lost too much and struggled too hard to get the visa, but each man chooses his own destiny and we cannot turn our back on them because they don't make the choices we like. Instead I think we should celebrate the fact that they can choose unlike the people over one hundred years ago whose one way ticket was literally one way.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Two charged in Irish smuggling probe

March 24, 2006: Two charged in Irish smuggling probe

From the Buffalo News

A Buffalo bartender and a pub patron have been implicated in an ongoing investigation into a smuggling ring that helped illegal aliens from Ireland settle in the United States.

The bartender, Shannon Lee, worked in Campbell's Pub, 1591 Niagara St. The other defendant, Michael O'Malley, was recruited because he was a patron there, authorities said Tuesday.

The two, whose ages and addresses have not been released, are charged in a case involving Bridget A. Campbell, 37, the Campbell's Pub proprietor who recently admitted she made thousands of dollars smuggling Irish illegal aliens in late 2003 and most of 2004.

Campbell took a plea deal earlier this month, admitting that she sometimes hired bar employees and patrons to pick up illegal aliens in Fort Erie. Ont., and drive them over the Peace Bridge. Campbell admitted that she was paid at least $1,200 per alien.

O'Malley recently pleaded guilty to transporting and harboring illegal aliens, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gretchen Wylegala said.

According to court papers, O'Malley admitted he took part in "a scheme to bring Irish nationals into the United States." In his guilty plea, he acknowledged that he assisted Campbell in transporting five Irish aliens from Fort Erie over the Peace Bridge into Buffalo.

The smuggling incidents took place in 2004, and O'Malley usually received $100 from Campbell for driving to Fort Erie and picking up the luggage of Irish nationals who were being smuggled in other vehicles.

Last month, O'Malley was sentenced to two years on federal probation by U.S. District Judge John T. Elfvin.

March 15, Lee was charged with transporting aliens, harboring aliens and conspiring to defraud the U.S. government. She is accused of acting as one of Campbell's drivers in August 2004.

Campbell and her attorney, Michael M. Blotnik, have been unavailable to comment on the smuggling charges.

Prosecutors said Campbell admitted arranging for at least 30 illegal aliens from Ireland to cross from Fort Erie into Buffalo.

In court papers, Campbell said she hired people who worked and drank at her bar to act as drivers.

Under her plea deal, Bridget Campbell agreed to forfeit $36,000 to the government.

Bar owner smuggled aliens from Ireland

From the Buffalo News. Final Edition, March 15, 2006

Buffalo pub operator Bridget A. Campbell spent part of 2003 and much of 2004 helping people from Ireland settle in the United States.

For a fee, she made some of their travel arrangements and got them New York State driver's licenses.

There was a problem with all this: It was illegal.

Campbell, 37, of Depew, faces a June 9 sentencing date in U.S. District Court after admitting that she smuggled illegal aliens from Ireland into the United States.

Federal prosecutors said she recently admitted arranging for at least 30 people from Ireland to illegally cross from Fort Erie, Ont., into Buffalo.

While taking a felony plea deal, Campbell admitted she hired people who worked and drank at her bar -- Campbell's Pub at 1591 Niagara St. -- to pick up aliens in Fort Erie and drive them over the Peace Bridge into Buffalo.

From there, authorities believe, most of them traveled to New York City, where many got jobs in the food service industry.

"It appears that the people she was smuggling were not criminal types. They were people who want to live and work in the U.S.," one law enforcement official said on Tuesday.

Campbell and her attorney, Michael Blotnik, could not be reached to comment. The bar operator's husband, William John, said he was not familiar with the details of the smuggling operation and did not wish to comment on it.

Authorities said other people were involved in the scheme with Campbell. Peter Smith, a supervisory agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement section of Homeland Security, said the investigation is continuing.

The smuggling took place between December 2003 and August 2004, according to court papers. Authorities said Campbell's role in the smuggling began after the Irish nationals traveled from Ireland to Canada, and then to Fort Erie.

"Campbell got general descriptions of the persons to be smuggled into the United States. [She] obtained valid New York driver's licenses resembling the physical descriptions of the Irish nationals," prosecutor Gretchen Wylegala said in court papers.

The prosecutor said Campbell hired people who worked at, or patronized, her bar to drive to Fort Erie to bring the aliens over the Peace Bridge into Buffalo. Campbell also paid them to pass the driver's licenses along to the aliens, and coach them on what questions might be asked by bridge inspectors. While one car often carried the illegal aliens, Campbell often hired a second driver to carry the aliens' luggage in a second car, authorities said.

Campbell admitted that she received a fee of $1,200 per alien. She then paid $300 to each person who agreed to drive the aliens over the bridge, $100 to each person who agreed to pick up luggage and $50 to anyone who agreed to become a passenger in one of the smuggling cars.

So far, authorities have not disclosed how the aliens got from Buffalo to New York City or other destinations in the United States.

Under her plea deal, Bridget Campbell agreed to forfeit $36,000 to the government.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Focusing on the problem

I read the comments, I listen to the countless media points of view its good to talk but when peoples lives are affected every day by this then we have to focus on the problem. We need to legalize our Irish that are here, for whatever reasons they are here, they want to be here and have stuck it out through thick and thin. So now we know they are here and they have no available way to get legal can we not all just put every drop of energy into legalizing them.

If a bill exists that will do that then no hodge podge that is the bill for us. Get on the phones, that is the effective way to lobby and insist that the newcomers are a vital part of America. Solidarity is the key and hidden agendas won't help. The only agenda is to "legalize the Irish" no other t shirt will do, this is not about individuals it is about the group and the group must stick together and support one another. The Irish immigrants have always strengthened America and not weakened her this flock will be no different. They are more educated than their ancestors and they choose America for a better life, it wasn't war or fear or famine that brought them here they wanted to come to America, it was their desire for America that motivated them.

America will always attract immigrants it always did, please stop pretending that the elephant is not in the room. They cut off the Irish quota and they kept coming anyway time is well overdue to reinstall the quota and let the Irish stay.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

ICE raids in Woodlawn & Woodside

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform has posted a statement from the Aisling and Emerald Isle centers. Click here

Morrison says this is a battle we can win

So, back down to the shops and this time I buy the Irish Voice to find out that former Congressman Bruce Morrison reckons we can win this battle. God, I hope so.

Further down the piece, former New York State Assembyman John Dearie (now there's a man who knows something about the rough and tumble of politics) is telling us to keep on the phones. "We need to keep those telephones hot. United we stand and united we get there".

Come in off the streets lads, and get on the phones....

A Day without Immigrants

I'm glad to see that the day passed without any major backlash. Bit disappointed to see the Irish Echo in New York leading with a couple of people particiapting in the Chicago rally when they didn't lead with the ILIR after the April 10 rally in New York. Hey Lads! Brian McKenna spoke outside City Hall to hundreds of thousands of people too and he didn't make your front page!

Wha's with that Chicago Irish crowd anyway? They don't seem to like the idea of unity; keep turning up at rallies with the wrong t-shirts!!!

Anyway, I hope everyone notices that the other side aren't holding marches and rallies, they're too busy calling Congress. Hate to be a party-pooper but could we ever take this off the streets and on to the phones. My future is in the balance here and I'd bet you every penny I'll ever earn that the anti-immigrant crowd have been burning up the phones over the past few days.

The only people Congress listens to is their constituents, which is why it's so important that we keep this up. If you don't know your Congress rep's details, check out the website.