Friday, September 29, 2006

from Friday's NY Times:

On Thursday, the Republican architects of the Senate bill — including Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinez of Florida and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — supported the decision to bring the fencing measure to a final vote. The lawmakers, who still favor the legalization of illegal immigrants, have said they view the fence as one step toward achieving their broader legislative goals.

One Republican, Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, voted against shutting off debate on the fence. Eighteen Democrats voted in favor of it.

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, described the vote as a crucial effort toward stopping the flood of illegal immigrants pouring into the United States.

“We know that fencing works,” Mr. Sessions said. “It’s time to make it a reality. Then we’ll have some credibility with the American people. Then we can talk comprehensively about how to fix an absolutely broken immigration system.”

For the full article, click here.

article on John Duddy:

Why New York Loves John Duddy by Umar ben-Ivan as posted on East Side Boxing:

This Saturday Irish John Duddy will face Yori Boy Campos at the Theater at Madison Square Garden and it is likely he will sell this venue out for the second time (something Zab Judah failed to do when he was the undisputed welterweight champion of the world). Everywhere I go in my Queens neighborhood I see posters advertising the fight as Shamrocks V. Sombreros and the community genuinely seems excited.

The last time that Duddy stepped in the ring was against Freddie Cuevas at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Miguel Cotto-Paulie Malignaggi and he thrilled the thousands of Irish fans who showed up to cheer him on even as he was tested by the battle-worn Chicago veteran. Outnumbered by the over 10,000 Puerto Rican Cotto fans in one of the best nights of boxing I have ever seen at the Garden; the Irish fans wildly cheered Duddy with Irish football ( soccer) chants and cheers.

Duddy just isn’t Irish; he is a living and breathing part of the historic Irish community of New York City. He shows up for charity events in Queens, the Bronx, Yonkers and other places and several months ago he stood up and addressed Senator John McCain at St. Barnabas Church which is nestled on the border of the Bronx and Yonkers and introduced himself as John Duddy and the thousands in attendance stood up and gave him a loud ovation at this Legalize the Irish event.

Boxing is important to the Irish people and has been a tradition for many for generations; particularly those who grew up in the Irish slums before Ireland became the Celtic Tiger it is today and the Six Counties of Northern Ireland when they were still in daily turmoil before the current quasi recess in hostilities. Duddy hails from Derry, a city in the North, and it is known as a tough town that is full of hard-working families who are known for their hospitality and love of sports and he has brought that ethic to New York.

In the political world pundits have often talked about the three important I’s in New York politics; Israel, Italy, and Ireland, and of those groups the Irish and Italians are rapidly losing population from New York City as working-families flee the high cost of living for less expensive ground just as a generation or two ago they fled the crime of NYC. There is also the fact that the economy of Ireland is now one of the best in Europe and for the first time in centuries Ireland is a land to more than a land of poverty and an exporter of its people and is home to a booming economy.

Watching John Duddy in the ring, and watching him enter the ring not to hip-hop but to traditional Irish music, the fans see a new and vibrant Irish youth and not only are they reminded of the promise of today but of the glory of yesteryear when Irish fighters would routinely fight in New York. For others, whose families have been here for generations, Duddy is a reminder of many of our family’s immigrant roots and there is no way to earn you keep harder than in the ring and still for others it is just a joy to watch someone who fights with a passion and has power in both hands and is willing and ready to mix it up.

Thanks, Arlen.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., blocked moves by House leaders to add additional immigration-related measures to the homeland security bill on the theory that piecemeal advances would drain momentum from the Senate's drive to pass a more comprehensive immigration overhaul.

For a full AP report on immigration in the Washington Post click here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

from an editorial in the Hartford Courant:

The House and Senate majority leadership is playing a shell game. Conferees from both chambers are dwelling exclusively on law enforcement and border security.

Sponsors of the legislation want to build 700 miles of fence on the U.S.-Mexico border and substantially beef up border patrols and detention facilities. Yet don't ask these enforcement advocates about paying the bill. As Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas noted this week, "It's clearly a case of over-promising" because failure to appropriate the money "has been our track record.

"A "security" fence would cost at least $5 billion, Homeland Security officials estimate. That doesn't include expanded patrols and detention centers. Neither does it include the $11 billion it would cost to implement a new law tightening rules on driver's licenses to prevent illegal immigrants from getting them.


Eager to make at least some pre-election progress, House and Senate GOP leaders are trying to attach their enforcement-only approach to a funding bill for the Homeland Security department. Money originally intended for national security would be spent on get-tough-on-immigrants programs.

As a result, there would be less appropriated for security at ports, chemical plants and nuclear-powered electric generating facilities. "We need to make sure we don't have a shell game," said Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, a sponsor of the border fence project.

For the fuilll editorial click here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Seattle Times editorial:

IMMIGRATION reform is urgent, but not so urgent the U.S. Senate should abandon its responsible approach and embrace shortsighted House bills this week.

That appears to be Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's plan as he presses for a vote just weeks before a contentious election. He wants the Senate to vote on items common to the House's enforcement-only approach and the broader Senate version. But that would leave out a critical element for meaningful immigration reform.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a reasonable immigration-reform proposal that increases enforcement against illegal immigration while also taking responsibility for flawed U.S. immigration policy that encouraged an underground work force.

The Senate would include a guest-worker plan to ensure enough workers for industries that have grown dependent on illegal labor. Law-abiding workers eventually could earn a path to citizenship.
But the harder-line House passed an enforcement-only bill that prompted huge protests across the country. Rather than negotiate with the Senate, the House divided its larger bill this month, sending three bills to the Senate.

The new House bills are more of the same: enforcement only; no effort to minimize disruption to the economy. The former without the latter is bound to fail.

In a series last week, Seattle Times reporters depicted how much a part of the work force are these unauthorized workers. They dominate the agricultural work force but also parts of food service and construction.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is right to resist Frist's approach and insist on a common-ground compromise. The Pennsylvania Republican has been a wise voice for a holistic approach to the dilemma that is immigration reform.

He promises the issue will remain a top priority for his committee even if no bill is passed this session.
The other senators who voted for the broader bill should hold their ground.

For a link to the editorial click here.

It is good to laugh!

I had the extremely entertaining privilege of witnessing two witty beyond belief young men on Saturday night in Queens at the ILIR top class event of the one and only Des Bishop and his supporting star Carl Spain. They were absolutely fabulous and performed to an over packed crowd in the Breffini Bar in Sunnyside Queens. The sheer size of the crowd spoke volumes about the necessity of this campaign to the community and it was reflected in the massive support again for the legalize the Irish crew.

Wise men say there is great healing in laughter well if that is the case Carl and Des were like two Doctors dispensing medicine to the undocumented Irish immigrants. I laughed and laughed and it felt so good. Right from the very start it was a tirade of wit and quips all around the colourful experiences of the Irish in America and the subtle cultural differences between Ireland and the States told with such hilarity. It was fun to laugh at ourselves like when the guy in the front row was asked when did he last go to Ireland to visit his home town of Dublin, when he said a couple of months ago "ahh" says Spain "that was just my way of finding out if you where legal or not." I laughed because if he had asked me I would have said five years and it would have been all so obvious. He then continued to do the drum roll and introduce the main event the one and only Des Bishop the American man living in Ireland who Spain described as sticking out like a tomato on an Irish breakfast back home and then the hits just kept on coming.

Bishop was on fire on his home turf in Queens and like the Mets this year he was winning all the way. He had me in stitches as he walked us through stories from Irish showers, to being treated for testicular cancer in an Irish hospital to trying to stay sober in a country he described as Disneyland for alcoholics. He time and time again pledged his support for the ILIR and said it was a priviege to perform one on the house for such a worthy cause. Bishop described his own childhood in Queens growing up in an Irish neighborhood that is now under siege because there are no greencards for the Irish. The real fun was for me that for a night the undocumented Irish could laugh out loud and forget about the pressure they are under every day and have a laugh at themselves. Well done Des, the ILIR, the Irish Aisling centre and the huge crowd that turned up to support the very worthy movement.

"Legalize the Irish" wristbands make excellent birthday gifts.

from NY Times editorial:

Republican leaders want you to think they are hard at work overhauling the broken immigration system in the last days before going home. But don’t be fooled by the noise and dust. These are piecemeal rehashes of legislation the House passed last December. They include a 700-mile border fence that would cost more than $2 billion and would not work, and tough-sounding but profoundly undemocratic bills that would allow the indefinite detention of some illegal immigrants seeking asylum, make it easier to deport people without judicial review, and require voters to prove citizenship before participating in federal elections. The latter measure attacks an imaginary problem — voting fraud by illegal immigrants — and would disenfranchise countless Americans who are old and poor.

for the full editorial click here.

Illegal immigration proposals come up short in US Congress when it is time to pay for them

For the full AP story in the Herald Tribune click here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Hi Guys,the count down is on for the Des Bishop shows this weekend!

Both shows will be a guaranteed great night out so remember to roundup everyone you possibly can to come to Rory Dolans, McLean Avenue,Yonkers on Friday night at 8 or to The Breffni Bar, Sunnyside Queenson Saturday at 8.

Tickets are $40 at the door or can be bought in advance at either bar or at the Aisling Irish Community Center.

Its for the best cause we know - THE ILIR, and will be a great laugh too!!See you all at one or other or even BOTH shows!!

ILIR Queens Committee.

US Task Force Urges Sweeping Immigration Reform

A group of scholars and former U.S. officials is recommending a complete overhaul of America's immigration system to safeguard the vibrancy and dynamism of the U.S. economy, improve national security, and deal with the estimated 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States

For the full Voice of America story click here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Today is a national call-in day to oppose the new wave of just-for-show enforcement legislation and support comprehensive immigration reform.

It is very important to make three calls on Wednesday (your two Senators and one Representative), even if you know he/she already supports comprehensive immigration reform.

Here is a suggested script:"Congress should stop the piecemeal, enforcement-only approach to immigration reform. I support a comprehensive bill that reunites families, legalizes the undocumented population, and provides future immigrants with a safe and legal way to live and work in the U.S."

Find your Senators and Representative and their phone numbers at

You can also call the Congressional switchboard to be connected to their offices: (202) 224-3121.

from editorial titled "House GOP pushes 'just for show' bills on immigration:"

Now, less than two months before the Nov. 7 midterm elections, House Republicans -- desperate to avoid the wrath of conservative voters, who might be angry at lawmakers who offer nothing on immigration reform but talk -- seem to have brushed aside the Sensenbrenner bill, the Hutchison-Pence plan and the possibility of working out differences with the Senate bill, which offers illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

Instead, Republicans have cobbled together a slate of 10 just-for-show enforcement measures intended to make voters think the illegal immigration problem can be fixed with a little spit and glue.

Last week, the House approved the first measure: 700 miles of border fencing. Republicans say that this will cost about $2 billion, while Democrats put the cost at closer to $7 billion. Either way, the House fence bill didn't include a way to cover the tab.

That's not the worst of it. Fencing sounds good, but it doesn't work. At best, it might redirect human traffic, as it did in the 1990s when cracking down in San Diego and El Paso squeezed more illegal immigrants through Arizona. Besides, as any Border Patrol agent will tell you, there's no fence long enough, high enough or deep enough for the desperate not to go around, over or under it.

Still to come on the House enforcement agenda: hiring some 1,200 more Border Patrol agents, stepping up prosecutions of immigrant smugglers, an end to the "catch and release" program (which the administration has already discontinued), a ban against alien gang members entering the United States (as if we didn't already have a ban against the entry of undocumented aliens) and criminal penalties for building or financing border tunnels to allow for smuggling (as if smuggling itself wasn't already a crime).

None of these efforts will do any good, of course, without first addressing the magnet that draws illegal immigrants here in the first place -- jobs, jobs and more jobs provided by U.S. employers. Interestingly enough, nowhere in the GOP's 10-point enforcement plan do you find any mention of stiffening employer sanctions even though that provision was in the Sensenbrenner bill.

For the full editorial click here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Action Alert

On September 14, the House of Representatives passed the Secure Fence Act, H.R. 6061, which calls for 700 miles of fence on the U.S./Mexico border and requires the Department of Homeland Security to achieve "operational control" of the rest of the U.S./Mexico border through a "virtual fence."

The Senate may debate and vote on this legislation shortly. Also, this week the House will vote on three new enforcement bills introduced by Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) that incorporate pieces of H.R. 4437.

This is a fast-moving legislative attack on immigrants that needs our immediate response.

There will be a national call-in day on Wednesday, September 20 to oppose this new wave of enforcement legislation and support comprehensive immigration reform.

It is very important to make three calls on Wednesday (your two Senators and one Representative), even if you know he/she already supports comprehensive immigration reform.

Here is a suggested script:
"Congress should stop the piecemeal, enforcement-only approach to immigration reform. I support a comprehensive bill that reunites families, legalizes the undocumented population, and provides future immigrants with a safe and legal way to live and work in the U.S."

Find your Senators and Representative and their phone numbers at

You can also call the Congressional switchboard to be connected to their offices: (202) 224-3121.

Please forward this information to anyone who supports comprehensive immigration reform

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and Orange County Choppers

Irish Heritage Festival, Montgomery, New York

editorial from today's NY Times:

September 19, 2006


Immigration’s Lost Year

Congressional leaders and President Bush insisted for months that they were serious about fixing the immigration system. They weren’t, and the more talk you hear about border security, about building walls and getting tough this time, the clearer it will be that hopes for effective immigration reform this year are past saving, pinned down by strong arms in the Republican-controlled House and kicked until dead.

The latest proposals are the product of a Republicans-only “forum” last week that distilled the bilge water of a summer’s worth of immigration “hearings,” which were actually badly disguised campaign events. The hearings — with titles like “How Does Illegal Immigration Impact American Taxpayers and Will the Reid-Kennedy Amnesty Worsen the Blow?” — were show trials put on to destroy comprehensive reform by any means necessary. “What I wanted was witnesses who agree with me, not disagree with me,” said Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia, putting it perfectly.

The “Reid-Kennedy Amnesty,” by the way, refers to the now-defunct Senate immigration bill, which passed that Republican-controlled body with the support of stalwarts like Arlen Specter, John McCain, Mel Martinez, Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel and the most prominent Republican of all, Mr. Bush. One of the many signs of the hysteria accompanying this election season is the way their moderate approach to immigration has been tarred as wholesale “amnesty” for lawbreakers.

Like the summer hearings, the latest G.O.P. legislation is an empty vessel, a sham product aimed at the November elections that sells the test-marketed concept of “security” with little to back it up. By decreeing that a 700-mile fence should be the nation’s top immigration priority while rabidly opposing a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, the House Republicans are hotly pursing a failed strategy. What satisfies the talk-radio appetite for justice — wall ’em out and deport the rest — is not just needlessly cruel. It also won’t work.

If the House Republicans have their way and enforcement-only becomes our national policy, illegal immigrants will keep their heads down and keep working, cowed into accepting low pay and abuse, dragging down working conditions for everybody else. Lawlessness among the employers who hire them will be encouraged. If you like this world of illegality, anonymity and under-the-table cash, then the House Republican approach is the one for you.

Real immigration security means separating the harmful from the hard-working. It means imposing the rule of law on the ad-hoc immigrant economy. It means freeing up resources so that overburdened law-enforcement agencies can restore order at the border and in the workplace. It means holding employers, not just workers, responsible for obeying the law. And it means tapping the energy of vast numbers of immigrants who dream of becoming citizens and who can make the country stronger.

These are huge tasks, and the anti-immigrant forces have nothing to contribute. They are out of ideas, except about getting re-elected. Their calculated inaction and half-measures mock Americans’ support for comprehensive reform, which has been repeatedly confirmed in opinion polls.

We will see whether the November elections will make the travesty worth it for the immigrant-bashers, but for the nation it has become a lost year.

Immigration Bills on House and Senate floors this week

Immigration bills, particularly anti-immigrant bills, tend to get introduced and voted upon in a short period of time. Last week, the House introduced H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act, in one day, then passed it the next day. The following are immigration bills in the House and the Senate this week which are priorities for Irish Americans.

HR 6089, Illegal Alien Deterrence Act of 2006 - OPPOSE
This bill would encourage state and local law enforcement to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, or transfer to federal custody immigrants who they suspect of violating immigration laws. It would also overturn two Supreme Court decisions that currently prevent unlawful indefinite detention of noncitizens. If passed, it would permit the indefinite and perhaps permanent detention of noncitizens who cannot be deported due to no fault of their own.

HR 6090, Effective Immigration Enforcement and Community Protection Act of 2006 – OPPOSE
This bill would eviscerate the federal court’s ability to grant meaningful relief in any immigration litigation, including those brought by U.S. companies or U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family members of immigrants to correct clear violations of immigration law by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or other agencies.

HR 6091, Border Security Enhancement Act of 2006 - OPPOSE
The most problematic provision in this bill would allow immigration officers to use expedited removal on anyone whom they believe to be a noncitizen
1) who has not been inspected or paroled,
2) is not admissible based on a criminal ground (a conviction would not be required),
3) does not have a credible fear of persecution, and
4) is not eligible for a waiver or relief from removal. In addition, someone being deported under this process would only have seven days after the order is issued before they can be removed from the U.S. without appeals or process.

The severe curtailment of Due Process in this provision will lead to erroneous removal of people who should not have been deported, such as U.S. citizens who could not quickly provide proof of their U.S. citizenship, or an abused spouse or child who could not quickly show their eligibility for relief under the Violence Against Women Act) or someone who was not in fact inadmissible due to a criminal ground of inadmissibility but could not timely hire a lawyer who knew the complex case law that governed his or her admissibility.

Motion to invoke Cloture on HR 6061, the Secure Fence Act – OPPOSE
This bill would require DHS to build 700 miles of double-layered fences and barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. It also would authorize a "virtual fence" of unmanned aerial vehicles, ground sensors, cameras and other surveillance technology along the border.
Tackling border security in a piecemeal fashion such as this bill will not solve our broken immigration system. Fencing alone will not solve our problem with undocumented immigration unless the underlying causes are addressed. Fences and other measures should be discussed in the context of comprehensive immigration reform.

Monday, September 18, 2006

from an editorial called "The Death of Immigration Reform"

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the political playbook: When you’re in trouble, conjure up a boogey man to distract from your failures and play on voters’ fears. This year’s targets: undocumented immigrants.

It’s not that there aren’t real reasons to fix our broken immigration system. And, earlier this year, it seemed that the debate over immigration would actually result in action—tough, fair and practical comprehensive immigration reform.

Led by John McCain and Ted Kennedy, the Senate passed, with bipartisan support, a bill that addressed border security, created a path to earned citizenship for hardworking immigrants already here and acknowledged the realities of businesses that rely on immigrant labor.

The measure was fair to taxpayers by asking undocumented workers to pay back taxes before being able to become citizens, and was fair to workers who have contributed greatly to our economy by allowing them to come out of the shadows and protecting them against being exploited.

But the House Republicans had already passed an amazingly callous, enforcement-only bill that would not only make felons of undocumented workers, but would also criminalize soup kitchen volunteers and religious organizations who give humanitarian assistance to the undocumented. People who have lived, worked and paid taxes here for years would be made felons and permanently ineligible to earn citizenship.

In the rants from the far-right, the House Republicans heard a possible solution to their plunging poll numbers. They refused to negotiate in conference with their Senate colleagues, figuring they could score political points by spending August holding “field hearings” that had nothing to do with learning anything new about immigration and everything to do with creating forums to grandstand for local media.Remember, these supposedly fact-finding hearings were all held after House Republicans passed their version of immigration “reform”—and the vast majority of witnesses permitted to speak at the hearings held long-documented anti-immigration views.

The brazenly political nature of the hearings was even evidenced in their names, like this gem from San Diego: “Would the Reid-Kennedy Bill Impose Huge Unfunded Mandates on State and Local Governments?” That succinctly illustrates the Republicans’ objectives: One, obscure the fact that the Senate bill had bipartisan support (hello, John McCain) by naming it after two Democrats; and two, inflaming the debate in hopes of energizing anti-immigrant voters in November.

So-called immigration reforms that focus only on punishing undocumented immigrants or building bigger barricades cannot and will not be effective. We have to also address the economic realities that drive immigration, including the many American businesses and communities that rely on immigrant labor. Already a labor shortage is being felt in the vineyards of California, the lettuce fields of Colorado and strawberry patches in New York. Towns that have succumbed to anti-immigrant hysteria and passed harsh ordinances are already seeing damage to their economies as well as to their spirit of community.

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., insists on calling the sham summer hearings a success and has continued to push for enforcement-only legislation. But it is clear that enforcement-only policies will not work: There’s 20 years' precedent of spectacular failure as proof. In putting down the bipartisan Senate bill, Hastert said that the House Republicans’ brief visits to the border during the hearings gave him insight into the border’s needs.

For the full editorial, click here.

2 out of 3 Colorado voters favor earned legalization.

Nearly two of every three Colorado voters think illegal immigrants should be allowed to become U.S. citizens if they pay taxes, learn English and meet other requirements, according to a new Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4 poll. Only 15 percent of those polled favor mass deportations.

"People want to be tough but fair," said pollster Lori Weigel. "It's like many issues. You tend to hear from extremes on both ends. Clearly, this data indicate that there's a silent majority that is supportive of a more middle-ground approach."

For the full story click here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mother in lone protest for 'illegal' son

Kate Heaney of the Donegal News reports:

A Leterkenny mother staged a solo protest in Lifford on Tuesday to highlight the plight of the illegal Irish in the US to visiting Ambassador James C. Kenny.

Helen McClafferty donned her protest T-shirt reading "legalise the Irishg" and handed the American ambassador to Ireland a letter from her husband Hughie. Mrs. McClafferty learned of the ambassador's first offical visit to the county and decides she would use the occasion to make her point.

She has a son living in the US who is not lehgal and it means that he has not been able to bring his two children home to Ireland to visit their grandparents.

Mr. Kenny came to Donegal at the invitation of former Mayor Councillor Dessie Larkin...

When he arrived at County House in Lifford Mrs. McClafferty was there waiting for him and welcomed him to the county.

"I thought I would have been thrown out. Mr. Kenny stopped and aid hello and admired my T-shirt. I handed him the letter Hughie wrote about the undocumented Irish in America and he took it and said he would speak to me on the way out and he did," Mrs. McClafferty said.

As the Ambassador left the council chamber he told Mrs. McClafferty he would readthe letter and give it his attention.

"I was visiting New York during the protest and I was one of the 4,000 who marched. I felt very passionate about the whole issue. All my son and the many others like him want is the freedom to travel, get a banks account and pay their taxes.

"they work very hard and contribute to the communities they live in. I have angina now and will not be able to make he trip to New York as often as I would like," she added.

For the full story reported in the Donegal News click here.

President Bush calls for comprehensive immigration reform (again):

Excerpt from today's remarks by the President:

"I strongly believe that in order to protect this border, Congress has got to pass a comprehensive plan that... provides... additional money to secure the border and... recognizes that people are sneaking in here to do jobs Americans aren't doing... finally, we are going to have to treat people with dignity in this country. Ours is a nation of immigrants. And when Congress gets down to a comprehensive bill, I will just remind them, it's virtually impossible to try to find 11 million folks who've been here working hard, in some cases raising families, and kick them out. It's just not going to work."

To read the full remarks click here.

To read about and view the President's May 2006 remarks on the need for comprehensive immigration reform click here.

from Today's Washington Post:

"We earnestly hope that before this Congress adjourns, the House and Senate will compromise, wring out the raw partisanship, and find a way to send President Bush - who has staked so much on enactment of solid immigration reform - a measure structured along the lines of our original bill. There is still time."

To read the full editorial by former Senators Mazzoli (D-KY) and Simpson (R-WY) click here.

Immigration Town Hall Meeting: Fairfield, CT

A group of concerned residents and local businesses will convene an Immigration Town Hall Meeting in Fairfield Connnecticut on Sunday afternoon.

Please RSVP by calling 2003-226-8055 or 866-415-7003.

Sunday, September 17, 2006
Gaelic-American Club, Inc.
74 Beach Road
Fairfiled, Connecticut 06824

Irish Festival Montgomery, New York

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform volunteers and supporters will be attending the 13th Annual Irish Heritage Festival in Montgomery, New York this weekend.

The festival is a two day event.

$10.00 for adults
$8.00 for seniors
$15.00 for a two-day pass.

For more information call 845-343-5736 or visit the Irish Heritage Festival website.

For directions, click here.

Irish Immigration in the U.S. Today

The City University of New York Institute for Irish American Studies will sponsor:

"Irish Immigration in the United States Today"

Presentation by Kelly Fincham

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 7PM
Faculty Dining Room
Music Building, Lehman College
Bronx, New York

Refreshments will be provided.

The lecture will reflect upon both the struggles and accomplishments of Irish Immigration in the United States today.

A native of County Louth, Ireland, Kelly Fincham is a champion of immigrant rights and the executive director of Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

U.S. Catholic bishops to prez, Congress: Fair, just, comprehensive immigration reform needed

The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, has called on President George Bush and Congress "to work together to produce a fair and just comprehensive immigration reform bill." In a statement dated Tuesday, Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino said:

"Just legislation should include a viable path to citizenship for undocumented persons residing in our nation; a temporary worker program which protects the rights of both U.S. and foreign-born laborers; reforms in the family-based immigration system by reducing backlogs and shortening times for family reunification; and restoration of due process protection for immigrants."

"Immigration enforcement also should be an important component of comprehensive immigration reform," Bishop Barnes said.

"We caution, however, that enforcement measures should not undermine the fairness of our laws and should ensure that the human dignity of the person is protected. "We will oppose enforcement initiatives which do not meet this test."

The prelate added: "The time has come for the leaders of both chambers to come together and enact legislation which protects the human dignity of immigrants while also ensuring the integrity of our borders and the security of our nation. "The only way for our nation to achieve this goal is to adopt a comprehensive immigration reform measure."

Click here for the full story.

Rep. Roy LaHood (R-IL) quoted in Peoria Journal Star:

"We have a chance after the election with the kind of momentum you are creating here today . . . to do something before year's end," said LaHood, who added he favors the broader approach taken by the Senate in a bill passed earlier this year.'

"If the vote were today on a comprehensive package, it would pass because a lot of Democrats would support it. But a lot of our vulnerable members simply can't support it because their people want border security. I think after the election . . . there will be enough on both sides of the aisle to support it.

"The notion that we're going to take 12 to 14 million people and send them back to the countries from which they came is nonsense. It's not going to happen and it shouldn't happen. We should figure out a way to utilize the talents of these people in the jobs that they are doing that will give a boost to the economy of our country."

Click here for the full story. Mr. LaHood did not vote on HR 4437 in December 2005.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

last minute plan by House Know-Nothings to "look busy" on immigration

"Rather than saber-rattling, chest-thumping, and ranting, the American people would like to see both parties and both Houses of Congress come together to negotiate a realistic and enforceable policy for immigration." Click here for the full story in New York Newsday.

"They're in control. For 12 years they've done nothing. Now with 12 days left (to adjournment) before voters decide whether or not they're going to remain in control, they're trying to look like they're doing something." Click here for the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

To listen to a report on yesterday's Know-Nothing policy forum, click here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today's Know-Nothing "Hearing" on sham "hearings"

Click here for the House Committee on Appropriations description of today's "hearing" on the summer "hearings."

from Contra Costa Times editorial, posted September 10, 2006

... It's still possible to force the Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled Congress to take up an overhaul of the nation's ineffective immigration laws this year. But it will take a push from President Bush and other Republicans to put a bipartisan need ahead of an election-year political agenda.

Bush made sweeping immigration reforms a key part of his presidential agenda early in his first administration. He continues to support immigration reform that includes some method to match foreign workers with American employers whose businesses depend on foreign workers.

The Bush plan is opposed by a group of House Republican leaders who prefer punishment for the 12 million or so illegal immigrants now living in the United States, rather than solutions that allow needed foreign workers to work legally and eventually earn citizenship.

The House and Senate have both passed immigration bills. The Senate's version, which enjoys strong bipartisan support, is in line with Bush's long-standing effort to provide a legal mechanism enabling U.S. employers to hire foreign workers if they demonstrate that they could not fill those jobs with U.S. citizens.

Recently, a large group of influential Texas business leaders representing agriculture, food processing, hospitality, construction, banking and other businesses joined to urge passage of immigration legislation that recognizes how vital immigrant labor is to the economy.

The people in those countries where we are trying to establish democracies might need a little extra convincing when they notice how elected leaders in the United States act as if they do not have to pay attention to the will of the people who elected them.

Immigration is federal responsibility.

Congress should pass immigration reform this year.

Full editorial available here.

Editorial from Yesterday's Dallas Morning News:

Immigration countdown: House is wasting time; Senate seeks solution
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)
The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Monday, Sept. 11:

With Congress' October recess fast approaching, immigration reform remains a moving target.

Here's the latest way to read what's happening on this most critical of issues for the economy, the justice system and post-9/11 security:

After spending August yelling "fire," House Republicans are in a bind. They must do something to justify all their summer immigration hearings, the ones that mostly echoed the House's penchant for adding more agents, weapons and detention beds along the border.

So, House Republicans plan to either pass a new border security bill or slip more border security stuff into spending bills that Congress must pass before year's end.

Never mind that Washington already invested heavily in border security and that the Senate bill the House keeps ignoring contains lists of spending requests to tighten up the border. House leaders like GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert won't touch that bill because it contains a guest worker program for foreign workers and a chance for some illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

We wish House Republicans - particularly those from North Texas - would listen to the 30-some Texas business leaders who wrote a bipartisan letter to Congress on our Viewpoints page last month. They urged legislators to do more than simply tighten the border so Americans can finally have a sane way of dealing with illegal immigration.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevail on the other side of Capitol Hill. Senators may be forced to vote for some of the revised spending bills the House might send over, but plenty of them understand that the immigration crisis doesn't get solved simply by throwing money at the border.

Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison met last week with key senators, their staffs and business and immigration lobbyists to outline the compromise she and GOP Rep. Mike Pence continue to fine-tune. Their bill contains border security spending, a guest worker program that requires all illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America to return home before obtaining a visa and a lengthy shot at citizenship for some illegal immigrants.

We have some qualms about whether the citizenship track is so long that it would discourage illegal immigrants from becoming legal workers. But at least there's movement afoot on a solution. That's far more than you can say about the House.

In fact, it's crucial for the Senate's searchers to keep up their work. The last thing needed is for the do-little House to grab home field advantage.

Primary Day - Go Vote

Nine States and Washington DC have primary elections today.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Thank you Sarah-Louise and Kathlyn

Sarah-Louise and Kathlyn are two of the newest, youngest, and most enthusiastic volunteers supporting the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

Thank you, girls, for all your efforts at the AOH Hibernian Day at Coyne Park in Yonkers, New York.

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.

Click here for full story.

AOH Hibernian Day at Coyne Park

Green at bat

Saturday, September 09, 2006

from Oregon's Register-Guard editorial page:

Earlier this year, Congress missed an extraordinary opportunity to fix this nation's broken immigration system after the U.S. Senate approved a comprehensive reform bill. The legislation addressed the nation's economic and national security needs by toughening border enforcement, while also providing for an expanded guest worker program and the possibility of legal residency for the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are already in this country.

Sponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., the Senate bill was a massive improvement over a mean-spirited and unrealistic House bill that relied exclusively on border controls, criminal sanctions and deportation.

The Senate reformers made an extensive effort to persuade House Republicans to negotiate a compromise, and recently have even said they are willing to consider legislation that would require a secure border before a guest worker plan could be put in place. But House leaders have refused to budge from their enforcement-only approach, choosing instead to stage a summer-long series of fear-mongering hearings intended to stoke anti-immigrant fervor and delay legislative action until after the fall elections.

The House leadership's refusal to negotiate with the Senate on reform has been irresponsible. An estimated 400,000 undocumented immigrants cross this country's southern border each year, and that flow could soon increase given the current political instability in Mexico.

President Bush, who favors the Senate's comprehensive approach, might have spent what remains of his dwindling political capital to force House Republicans to negotiate a compromise. But he has been distracted by the deteriorating war in Iraq and other Middle East developments, and his low standing in the polls has prompted Republican lawmakers to distance themselves from the president and his immigration agenda in the critical weeks before the mid-term election.

After the election, there's hope that House Republicans can stop their posturing and summon the courage and statesmanship necessary to make meaningful immigration reform a reality.

If they don't, Americans will know who to blame.

Click here for full editorial.

from the Washington Post:

"We have to address the 12 million people, the temporary-worker program and work-site enforcement, as well as border security," said [Republican Senator Bill] Frist, who is not seeking reelection but may run for president in 2008.

Click here for the full story.

Friday, September 08, 2006

DC Rally For Comprhehensive Immigration Reform

September 7 Immigration Rally

At an immigrant-rights rally Thursday on the National Mall, some of the thousands who rallied for legalization shrugged at the latest legislative twist.

"Hopefully we'll get something next year," said Queens bartender Gavin Bradley, wearing a "Legalize the Irish" T-shirt. "We're going to keep the pressure on."

Click here for full story.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

ILIR returns to Washington

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform supporters and volunteers are heading back to Washington DC from across the country to attend a rally this afternoon in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

In June, House leadership stalled a conference committee on the bipartisan Senate Bill that would provide earned legal status for thousands of undocumented Irish living in America.

Instead of working together toward a compromise solution between the two bills that were passed, House leadership called for further "hearings." They flew themselves around the country to listen to hand-picked witnesses read aloud from pre-scripted testimony bashing the Senate Bill and blaming immigrants for every problem under the sun.

Throughout the summer Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform supporters and volunteers politely and patiently attended these so-called hearings to make sure the Irish, were at least seen if not heard.

The House now returns to Washington and they seem content to do nothing about immigration after wasting the entire summer on so-called immigration hearings.

Irish Lobby for Imigration Reform volunteers and supporters plan to attend this afternoon's rally to urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

The American-Irish community hangs in the balance.

Congressional action on immigration is needed to save our American-Irish communities.

Wear your Legalize the Irish tee shirt this afternoon (even if you cannot go to the rally in DC) and tell people to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Call your local House Representative. Tell your representative that you support the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and want to see Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform that give the undocumented Irish a chance to earn their way to legal status.

Check the ILIR website for further details on getting involved.

More Newport Irish Fest

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Representative Mike Pence (R) on Republican inaction:

"Congress has spent the last 18 months telling the American people the immigration system is broken," Pence said. "Without significant progress, there may be a price to pay."

Click here for full story from today's USA Today.

excerpt from LA Times Editorial: The Immigration Dodge

Republican leaders appear reluctant to reconcile conflicting House and Senate immigration bills passed within the last year.

Such inaction amounts to gross negligence. Prodded in part by huge demonstrations in Los Angeles and elsewhere, the nation was transfixed earlier this year by the issue of illegal immigration.

The U.S. economy's reliance on millions of undocumented foreign workers is a stain on this nation's respect for democracy and the rule of law.

The effort to create a legal avenue for immigrant workers to fill essential jobs is an urgent task that should have been undertaken years ago.

Click here for full editorial.

photos from Newport Irish Fest

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Irish Fest Newport, RI (Labor Day Weekend)

from the Irish Independant:


Saturday September 2nd 2006

After the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, Steve MacSweeney risked his life and identity to search for survivors. Now, as Caitriona Palmer reports from Washington, five years on, he has become an unintended victim of'the war on terror'

At about 9 am on the morning of September 11, 2001, Steve MacSweeney, a carpenter from Tralee, Co Kerry was taking his coffee break when he heard a shout from a co-worker that a plane had slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

MacSweeney raced to the roof of the building where he watched in amazement as a second plane roared low over his head, made a sweeping turn and sliced cleanly into the 78th floor of the south tower.

"I didn't even think," remembers MacSweeney, 32, who has lived and worked illegally in the United States since 1998. "I was so astonished and just so blown away by the whole lot."
Standing on the rooftop watching helplessly as the towers burned just streets away, MacSweeney's first instinct was to run towards the scene. A former member of a voluntary search-and-rescue unit in Ireland, he reckoned his skills might be needed on the ground.

"As I went down there the towers started to collapse," said MacSweeney. "There were people running towards me, there was dust coming at me. I tore my shirt and gave two pieces to two different people and another piece to an old woman just to cover their mouths.

"I just remember dust, basically like someone was holding a leaf blower behind a bag of flour. Just dust and everything blowing into your face and people running with cuts, wounds," he said.
Ducking under some police tape, MacSweeney helped evacuate people from the disaster zone. In the confusion and mayhem following the attack, no one asked him any questions. For two and a half weeks he worked on a bucket line 150 people long, passing buckets of debris from one person to the next.

At night he slept on the floor of a nearby sports centre next to police officers, fire fighters and federal officials. On the third day he slipped and cut his arm on a piece of debris, an injury he ignored but one that would require extensive surgery when he emerged from Ground Zero weeks later.

Digging through the rubble he remembers the camaraderie of workers "helpless with hope" in the likelihood of finding survivors. Not once during that time did he lose hope of finding people alive.

"There was a lot of hope because you'd hear rumours that somebody had used a cell phone to make a call," he said. "You'd be so happy thinking there's somebody in there, and they're ok and we can get them out. And you'd just work harder and harder and harder in the hope of getting them out."

MacSweeney and others like him are revered as heroes by Americans for helping the rescue effort in the days after the September 11 attacks. But now he may be forced to leave the country he has called home for years because of a crackdown on illegal immigration, a crackdown prompted by the September 11 attacks and fears of another terrorist attack.
No one asked for his work papers when he rushed to Ground Zero that morning five years ago. But, in an unintended consequence of the 'war on terror', MacSweeney now has to tread carefully lest he run afoul of the increasingly strict rules governing immigrants.
Brian McKenna, an illegal immigrant from Co Monaghan with his own plumbing business, worked alongside MacSweeney at Ground Zero. The irony of the post-9/11 immigration backlash is not lost on him.

"After 9/11, after so much that we'd done that day, when I couldn't renew my driver's licence, that was a real slap in the face for me," said McKenna.

In the months following the attacks, the US Government moved quickly to tighten border security and the rules for issuing drivers' licences - a de facto identity card for Americans. The climate of fear after 9/11 dramatically raised the stakes for illegal workers who, until that time, had lived largely ignored and tolerated.

"There was a major paranoia about people who were different, or were from outside the country, and one of the groups that obviously became a target for that was the undocumented emigrants," said Lena Deevy, executive director of the Irish Immigration Center in Boston.
According to Niall O'Dowd, chairman of the New York based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), the new restrictions have had a "catastrophic" effect on the Irish undocumented community in the US.

'Not allowing drivers' licences is really a huge setback for people," said O'Dowd. "Particularly men who have construction work or travel to their jobs, or women who want to drop their kids to school. I think that's been, more than any other single issue, the toughest one to overcome."

The ILIR, with the support of the Irish Government, has been lobbying the US government to ease the plight of the estimated 25,000 undocumented Irish in America by passing comprehensive immigration reform. MacSweeney, and hundreds of other young Irish undocumented have travelled to Washington DC with the ILIR this year to lobby the US Congress on the issue.

But the new restrictions have driven many undocumented Irish deeper into the shadows of American society while many more have decided to pack up and head home to Ireland.

"There is a significant number of undocumented who are leaving because they know there's less hope of immigration reform passing quickly and they also know that it's more difficult to get jobs," said Deevy.

MacSweeney admits that he has struggled with the difficult decision of going back to Ireland but that he has "too much to lose" by leaving the country he now calls home. He sees similar decisions being played out every day in Irish communities in New York.

"I've seen a lot of families torn apart because of this immigration issue. I've seen families going through heartache every day of the week because a lot of them have elderly parents who can't travel," he said. "And the option isn't open for the other person, unless they give up what they've worked extremely hard for over the years over here, and go back with the risk of not coming back."

MacSweeney doesn't think he deserves special recognition because of his work at Ground Zero or that it should lead to a green card. "It was a tragedy and I just did what I could do," he said.

"But at the same time I don't think I should be isolated or set aside as somebody that is taking from the American way, when I was one of the first to get in there," he said.

As America marks the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a debate is raging about the country's longstanding openness to immigrants, with some warning that 'broken borders' are jeopardising security.

© Irish Independent &

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006

Kansas City Irish Fest


Just a reminder to all the Irish Lobby for Immigration Supporters planning to attend the Kansas City Irish Fest this weekend.

Look sharp. Wear your Legalize the Irish tee shirt.

Be sure to see Gaelic Storm at 4:00pm on Saturday, 9/2 and again on Sunday 9/3 at 7pm and Black 47 at 4:30pm on Sunday 9/3.

For more information visit the KC Irish Fest Blog.

Labor Day has Irish Immigrant origins

Eleven-year-old Peter McGuire sold papers on the street in New York City. He shined shoes and cleaned stores and later ran errands. It was 1863 and his father, a poor Irish immigrant, had just enlisted to fight in the Civil War. Peter had to help support his mother and six brothers and sisters.

Many immigrants settled in New York City in the nineteenth century. They found that living conditions were not as wonderful as they had dreamed. Often there were six families crowded into a house made for one family. Thousands of children had to go to work. Working conditions were even worse. Immigrant men, women and children worked in factories for ten to twelve hours a day, stopping only for a short time to eat. They came to work even if they were tired or sick because if they didn't, they might be fired. Thousands of people were waiting to take their places.

When Peter was 17, he began an apprenticeship in a piano shop. This job was better than his others, for he was learning a trade, but he still worked long hours with low pay. At night he went to meetings and classes in economics and social issues of the day. One of the main issues of concern pertained to labor conditions. Workers were tired of long hours, low pay and uncertain jobs. They spoke of organizing themselves into a union of laborers to improve their working conditions. In the spring of 1872, Peter McGuire and 100,000 workers went on strike and marched through the streets, demanding a decrease in the long working day.

This event convinced Peter that an organized labor movement was important for the future of workers' rights. He spent the next year speaking to crowds of workers and unemployed people, lobbying the city government for jobs and relief money. It was not an easy road for Peter McGuire. He became known as a "disturber of the public peace." The city government ignored his demands. Peter himself could not find a job in his trade. He began to travel up and down the east coast to speak to laborers about unionizing. In 1881, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and began to organize carpenters there. He organized a convention of carpenters in Chicago, and it was there that a national union of carpenters was founded. He became General Secretary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

The idea of organizing workers according to their trades spread around the country. Factory workers, dock workers and toolmakers all began to demand and get their rights to an eight-hour workday, a secure job and a future in their trades. Peter McGuire and laborers in other cities planned a holiday for workers on the first Monday in September, halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day.

On September 5, 1882 the first Labor Day parade was held in New York City. Twenty thousand workers marched in a parade up Broadway. They carried banners that read "LABOR CREATES ALL WEALTH," and "EIGHT HOURS FOR WORK, EIGHT HOURS FOR REST, EIGHT HOURS FOR RECREATION!"

After the parade there were picnics all around the city. Workers and celebrants ate Irish stew, homemade bread and apple pie. At night, fireworks were set off.

Within the next few years, the idea spread from coast to coast, and all states celebrated Labor Day. In 1894, Congress voted it a federal holiday.

Today we celebrate Labor Day with a little less fanfare on the first Monday of September. Some cities have parades and community picnics. Many politicians "kick off' their political campaigns by holding rallies on the holiday. Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, and the beaches and other popular resort areas are packed with people enjoying one last three-day weekend