Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Immigration Nation" by Tamar Jacoby from Foreign Affairs magazine:

The United States is far less divided on immigration than the current debate would suggest. An overwhelming majority of Americans want a combination of tougher enforcement and earned citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Washington's challenge is to translate this consensus into sound legislation that will start to repair the nation's broken immigration system.

For the full article click here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

From NY Times editorial, "The Fence Campaign:"

Across the country, candidates are trying to stir up a voter frenzy using immigrants for bait. They accuse their opponents of being amnesty-loving fence-haters, and offer themselves as jut-jawed defenders of the homeland because they want the fence. But the fence is the product of a can’t-do, won’t-do approach to a serious national problem. And the ads are built on a foundation of lies:

Lie No. 1: We’re building a 700-mile fence. The bill signed by Mr. Bush includes no money for fence building. Congress has authorized $1.2 billion as a down payment for sealing the border, but that money is also meant for roads, electronic sensors and other security tactics preferred by the Department of Homeland Security, which doesn’t want a 700-mile fence. Indian tribes, members of Congress and local leaders will also have considerable say in where to put the fence, which could cost anywhere from $2 billion to $9 billion, depending on whose estimates you believe.

“It’s one thing to authorize. It’s another thing to actually appropriate the money and do it,” said Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. “I’m not sure that’s the most practical use of that money.”

Lie No. 2: A fence will help. A 700-mile fence, if it works, will only drive immigrants to other parts of the 2,000-mile border. In parts of the trackless Southwest, building the fence will require building new roads. Who uses roads? Immigrants and smugglers. And no fence will do anything about the roughly 40 percent of illegal immigrants who enter legally and overstay their visas.

Lie No. 3: The Senate’s alternative bill was weak, and its supporters favored amnesty. In May, the Senate passed a bill that had a fence. Not only that, it had money for a fence. It also included tough measures for cracking down on illegal hiring. It demanded that illegal immigrants get right with the law by paying fines and taxes, learning English and getting to the back of the citizenship line. It went overboard in some ways, weakening legal protections for immigrants and hindering judicial oversight. But it went far beyond the fence-only approach. Its shortcomings and differences with the House bill might have been worked out in negotiations over the summer. But instead, House Republican leaders held months of hearings to attack the Senate bill. And all we were left with was the fence.


Whatever happens in November, Congress will eventually have to deal with the 12 million illegal immigrants unaffected by the fence, and the future flow of immigrant workers. That means tackling “amnesty” directly. The sad thing is that Democrats and moderate Republicans — and Mr. Bush — already did this, and settled on an approach that is both tough and smart.


For the fulll editorial click here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kerry Healey makes The Boston Herald

And while we're waiting on a link to the Boston Herald, here's a link to the "reality-based" blog of BlueMass..

In this photo, Kerry Healey yuks it up on immigration as her husband (?) claps along. The T-shirt reads "Legalize The Irish .org," a URL that redirects to The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform or ILIR. ILIR is a serious organization that advocates for the Senate version of immigration reform, believing that that is the best way to help increase immigration from Ireland.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ireland considering immigration deal with U.S

Oct 25, 2006 — DUBLIN (Reuters) - Thousands of Irish citizens living unlawfully in the United States could be legalized in return for more work permits for U.S. citizens lured to Ireland by its thriving economy, an Irish minister said on Wednesday.

"There is clear evidence to support the establishment of some form of bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Irish governments," Labour Minister Tony Killeen said in a statement after he returned from a trip to New York.

Killeen said that, while 30,000 to 40,000 illegal Irish immigrants were living in the United States, two centuries of mass emigration to the United States from Ireland because of famine and unemployment was clearly now at an end.

Ireland's Trade and Employment Ministry said more than 4,300 Americans immigrated to Ireland in search of employment in 2005, compared with 1,700 Irish people moving to the United States, where more than 10 percent of the population claims Irish descent.

Killeen said a jobs fair in New York showed how appealing Ireland had become in the wake of the "Celtic Tiger" boom.

"The interest expressed by Americans to come and work in Ireland was so great that a queue more than two-and-a-half blocks long formed outside the exhibition venue," he said.

"In less than 15 years, Ireland has gone from being the sick man of Europe to one of the most dynamic economies in the developed world."

Killeen told Reuters in New York last week that Ireland would also try to lure Irish and U.S. citizens back to Ireland where the population is now back above 4 million, having slumped to a 120-year low of 2.8 million in the 1960s.

Copyright 2006 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

from remarks by President Bush during today's bill signing ceremony:

"We must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship; that is amnesty. I oppose amnesty. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic pass to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation. And I look forward to working with Congress to find that middle ground."

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform looks forward to real comprehensive immigration reform.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

report from Canton, MA:

Anti-immigrant candidate for governor of Massachusetts, Kerry Healy, came to the Irish Games in Canton, MA on Sunday.

The games were attended by several thousand supporters of Irish Football (GAA), many of whom were undocumented.

An Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Volunteer asked Healy to pose for a photograph with a Legalize the Irish t-shirt, which she did.

She received a very hostile reception from the crowd, with several Republican business owners from Boston saying that they would not be able to support her because of her stance on immigration.

It was pointed out to her by many people that she was actively calling for the criminalization of many of the people both attending and playing the games, a contradiction which she was unable to reconcile (despite wearing the t-shirt!).

Healy was booed arriving and departing the games.

In addition, the New York hurling team was actually supposed to play the game in Ireland but was unable to travel because the majority of the team are undocumented.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Guinness Ulster Hurling Final

New York will play Antrim in the Guinness Ulster Hurling Championship Final in Boston on Oct 22, 2006.

This is the first time that a provincial final will be held outside of Ireland.

It will also be the first time that New York has contested a provincial final after playing in both the Ulster and Connacht Championship.

The game will be part of a Sunday programme which will include the Interprovincial Football final while on Oct 21, a NAB team will play the Tommy Murphy Cup winners.

The NY GAA Board asks all its members, friends, and GAA fans in North America to travel to Boston to support the New York Hurlers in their quest for the Ulster Hurling Championship of 2006.

Show your support for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform this weekend. Wear your LEGALIZE THE IRISH shirt with pride.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

from ILW.com:

Our Congress Debated Immigration Reform For Two Years, And All We Got Was This Lousy Fence Bill?

by Frank Sharry
How did we get from there to here?

The past two years has witnessed an extraordinary set of developments in the U.S. immigration policy debate. It’s worth recalling some of the high and low lights…

Following his re-election, President George W. Bush makes comprehensive immigration reform a top priority for his second term. In December 2005, and in response to talk radio, talk TV, and the Minutemen, House leaders turn their backs on an increasingly unpopular President and pass the harshest immigration bill in 80 years. In the spring of 2006, millions of immigrants and their allies take to the streets in protest. In an Oval Office address, the President declares that the time has come to get control over the nation’s borders by combining tough enforcement with a realistic framework for legal immigration. In a rare display of bipartisan problem-solving, a comprehensive immigration reform bill passes the Senate that combines tough border and workplace enforcement measures with more worker and family visas and a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. In a series of independent polls, the public demands action from its leaders and declares its preference for the Senate approach. The stage is set for difficult but promising negotiations with the House.

And then, in an extraordinary display of cynical election-year calculation (miscalculation?), House leaders sidestep a conference committee with the Senate, mock the bipartisan Senate bill by labeling it the “Reid-Kennedy bill,” and take their base-turnout strategy on a summer road show of “faux hearings.” Upon returning to Washington for the last month of pre-election legislative action, the House Republican leadership pieces together a set of sweeping legislative measures straight out of their previously-passed enforcement-only bill, has them approved on the House floor (again), and attempts to impose its will on the Senate by adding them to must-pass appropriations measures.

Thanks to determined opposition from members on both sides of the aisle, cooler heads prevail and stop most of the sweeping House measures from becoming law. Senators Specter (R-PA), Gregg (R-NH), and Warner (R-VA), all of whom supported the comprehensive Senate immigration bill, refuse to yield to aggressive backroom attempts by House leaders to add the anti-immigrant bills to spending measures. Senators McCain (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC), Martinez (R-FL), Hagel (R-NE), Brownback (R-KS), and Craig (R-ID) among others, continue to speak out forcefully for comprehensive reform as the only way to truly fix the problem. And just as heroically, Senators Reid (D-NV), Kennedy (D-MA), Salazar (D-CO), Feinstein (D-CA), Durbin (D-IL), Lieberman (D-CT), and Obama (D-IL), among others, maintain their steadfast support for comprehensive reform in the face of a crass pre-election attempt to paint Democrats as “soft on illegal immigration.”

This spirit of bipartisanship is mostly absent in the House, but Democratic House leaders such as Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Whip Hoyer (D-MD), members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and many others, add their voices to those who rightly denounce the House tactics as the triumph of bad politics over good policy. Courageous Republican voices, such as Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), as well as others, bravely make the case for a comprehensive approach.

In the end, Congress appropriates more money for border security, approves a measure to make tunnel-building illegal, and in its highest profile “accomplishment,” authorizes the construction of 700 miles of fencing along our 2,000 mile border with Mexico. (In fact, Congress authorizes 700 miles of fence in the “Secure Fence Act” but only appropriates enough money for DHS to build approximately 90 miles!)

Is this the best we can do?

This is what passes for political leadership? Refuse to convene a conference committee to negotiate a far-reaching reform on a pressing policy priority? A political road show aimed at throwing red meat to a minority of voters in hopes that they get angry enough to show up in November? Playing “gotcha” politics anchored in cynical disregard for the intelligence of American voters? A fence to nowhere with funds from nowhere? Is the failure to deliver workable reform one of the reasons Congress’ approval rating is so low?

What’s next?

What’s next is the election. And the election results will have a considerable impact on future prospects for comprehensive immigration reform.

If House Republicans retain or expand their current majority and conclude that their hard line on immigration helped them do so, one suspects that Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) will continue to be the face of the House Republican agenda on immigration issues. If House Republicans lose numerous seats or their majority, then prospects for comprehensive immigration reform will improve significantly. We believe there has been and will be a bipartisan majority for workable comprehensive reform in the House, no matter which party is in the majority. The main question is whether the leadership will allow this majority to work its will.

Whether the Senate is led by Republicans or Democrats, the upper chamber has already proven its ability to enact architecturally-sound comprehensive reform. The challenge for the Senate will be to improve on its 2006 bill so that it not only passes with strong bipartisan support, but works once implemented.

What about a lame duck session of Congress? Some proponents of comprehensive immigration reform are holding out hope that something good might happen when Congress returns the week after Election Day. We would be pleased to be proved wrong, but we are not optimistic. After all, what are the chances the House Republican leadership, after spending six months trashing comprehensive immigration reform, will come back in November and enact comprehensive immigration reform?

In fact, the more likely scenario is that House leaders will return determined to attach some or all of the sweeping enforcement-only measures rebuffed in September to must-pass appropriations measures. We hope and expect our allies in both parties and in both chambers will continue to resist this backdoor attempt to enact measures that will only serve to make our broken immigration system more dysfunctional.

What’s needed?

We believe that the immigration debate will continue to roil American politics and American communities, and that voters will become more insistent that our leaders lead. We believe they will become more demanding that Congress and the President size up problems in their full dimensions so that our responses are realistic and workable. We believe they will intensify their call on Congress to solve complex problems like the broken immigration system with comprehensive, common-sense, bipartisan solutions—instead of the partisan polarization and paralysis we have today.

In the immigration debate, this would mean that we stop ignoring the facts of life. We can no longer ignore the fact that the U.S. economy is increasingly dependent on an increasingly integrated labor market with the world in general and Latin America in particular. We can no longer ignore the fact that 500,000 workers settle in the U.S. without legal status each year in part because there are only 5,000 visas for full-time low-skilled service workers. We can no longer ignore the fact that our family reunification system is badly backlogged and keeps spouses and children separated from loved ones for years. We can no longer ignore the fact that 20 years of enforcement-only strategies have failed to reduce illegal immigration, but have instead increased smuggling fees, the proliferation of fake documents, and the number of gruesome migrant deaths in the Arizona desert. We can no longer ignore the fact that the majority of the 12 million or so undocumented immigrants in this country work hard, live in families, and have been settled in the U.S. for years, making up 5% of the U.S. labor force and living as welcome members of many local communities.

We look forward to a continuing debate over how to reform our immigration laws so that we regain control of our borders, strengthen our economy, reunite families, level the playing field in the workplace, protect civil rights, and renew our nation’s commitment to citizenship. We sincerely believe that replacing the broken status quo with a 21st century regulatory system that works is a matter of “when,” not “if.” We are confident that the next Congress will move beyond fences and slogans to fixes and solutions.

For a link to the Immigrant's Weekly article, click here.

next congress likely to pass immigration reform

While entrenched interests have blocked progress on immigration, a desire to clarify the legal status of millions of US residents, and the demands of the business community, will give the issue legislative impetus. The next Congress is likely to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

For the full Oxford Analytica article that reaches this conclusion, click here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Irish returning to New York

I've just spoken to a friend who moved his family back to Ireland after 15 years here. He bought a lovely house, a new car and set up his own business. Sounds wonderful. Not even close.

He said he couldn't get over how expensive Ireland has become. He couldn't believe the crazy costs of everything. He was paying over $2000 a month on a mortgage, child care was costing $400 a week and he said if they went out for a meal they wouldn't see much change from $150.

After two years of trying to make it work, they decided to move back to New York. They are here now six months and are truly happy.

Another lad I know has just come back from Ireland saying he couldn't seem to save any money. They're lucky to have their citizenship is all I can say. I wish I did


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

from NY Times:

October 9, 2006
Looking Over the Wall

Congress has adjourned to plead for its re-election, having bequeathed to the nation a giant fence-building project as its official strategy for fixing the immigration problem. No doubt some voters will be reassured by the idea that covering 700 miles of the 2,000-mile southwestern border with razor wire and floodlights will solve this thing once and for all. But many others will continue to suspect that it is more complicated than that.

With a better start, this election year could have featured a rational debate about immigration policy that went beyond xenophobia and the fear of disorder caused by the presence of immigrant day laborers on suburban street corners. Americans — particularly those struggling to find decent jobs themselves — have a reasonable concern about what effect the presence of so many unplanned-for workers has had on the economy. They deserved to hear that talked about in a realistic way.

Last month the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that wants to reduce immigration, released a study that found that a sharp immigration increase in the last five years corresponded with a steep decline in the employment of young native-born Americans, particularly black men without high school diplomas.

Last week in The Times, Rachel Swarns reported on the ways the booming population of Latinos in the Deep South — particularly Georgia — had left many black Americans resentful of the immigrants’ comparative success.

But there is compelling evidence that instead of harming the economy, unskilled immigrants prop it up, filling jobs that better-educated Americans do not want and giving everyone access to cheaper goods and services. The case made by the Center for Immigration Studies is rebutted by other studies that have found that there is no nationwide pattern of job displacement by illegal immigrants, and that immigration has broadly been a net plus to the nation. In Georgia, immigrant labor has kept textile mills, farms and service industries humming.

Right now across America, fruit is rotting on the ground because the crackdown along the border has created a shortage of immigrant workers needed for the harvest. Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore stories of poor American workers who believe that their livelihoods were undermined by immigrants willing to work for below-subsistence wages, and of honest employers who could not compete with unscrupulous competitors using undocumented workers.
These serious problems will not be solved at the border with Mexico. Setting things right means adopting policies that fence-obsessed members of Congress have not exactly championed, like raising the minimum wage, improving public education, having a progressive income tax and making sure that workers’ rights are protected.These are only a few reasonable solutions. A host of others is offered in a new report by the Migration Policy Institute, in which Lee Hamilton, the former congressman, and Spencer Abraham, the former senator and energy secretary, argue that immigration needs to be seen as an integral element of a national economic policy. It is a resource to be embraced and managed, with a lawful, orderly flow of workers governed by flexible quotas set by a national commission advising Congress.

It’s a comprehensive approach and then some. It offers a new way of framing a stalled debate. The wall builders have made their point, and it’s a lousy one. Now it is time for those who want serious immigration reform to look beyond them.

For a link to the editorial click here.

excerpts from editorial in the Palm Beach Post:

This was the year the country was supposed to confront its immigration problems head-on and finally take bold steps to secure the borders and do something about the 12 million people who are living here illegally.

But election politics scuttled hopes for reform in Congress, and President Bush's declining popularity and troubles in Iraq ensured that no leadership would come from the White House. Mr. Bush's support for a guest worker program all but disappeared as his poll numbers fell. In the absence of real solutions, the country was left with symbolic fixes. And the symbols weren't pretty.

The president sent some National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Federal immigration agents conducted sweeps of job sites with illegal workers and deported hundreds of them. And, of course, there was the fence. Before breaking for election campaigning, Congress approved building 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border.
Fences generally go beyond symbolism and have practical functions. But what Congress signed off on is really a symbolic wall intended to allay the nation's frustration with its dysfunctional policy, at least for the time being.

It's hard to take a 700-mile fence seriously when it's supposed to cover 2,000 miles. It's even harder when Congress sets aside only enough money, $1.2 billion, to build about half of it - maybe 370 miles.
But that might even be a stretch. The fence bill gives the Department of Homeland Security wide discretion in deciding how the $1.2 billion should be spent. If he chooses, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who is known to favor the high-tech approach, can use the money to create a "virtual fence" with high-tech sensors and surveillance devices. In fact, he can spend the money on most anything associated with border control - roads, signs, buildings, etc.

Who will get the non-virtual fence remains an open question. Governors, congressmen and even mayors from the border states have been bickering for weeks over what they consider their fair share of the barrier. To get the bill through the Senate, Republican leaders put in language that requires Homeland Security to negotiate with affected parties to determine where sections of fence will go. Even Indian tribes must be consulted.

So, the much-publicized 700-mile fence to protect the 2,000-mile border appears likely to become a few hundred miles of cameras, lights and heat sensors punctuated by the occasional segment of metal and wire - a structure that, from a distance, looks like a hockey player's smile.


Members of Congress, Republicans in particular, are on the campaign trail telling constituents about a 700-mile fence that will make the nation more secure and stem the flow of illegal immigrants. It will stand, in places yet to be determined, as a symbol of the government's resolve to control its borders.

As virtual achievements go, it ranks among the greatest in United States history.

For the full editorial click here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

House-backed bill fails to address immigration ills

from the Home News Tribune (for full article click here):

You can look at it as cynical political manipulation. You can look at it purely in terms of policy effectiveness. Either way, it's not going to work.

Right now, it seems holdouts in the House are going to kill the comprehensive immigration reform passed by the Senate a while back. Instead, they are going for an enforcement-only approach.
It includes a $2 billion, 700-mile fence along the Mexican border, giving state and local cops authority to arrest people for civil violations of immigration law and a new requirement for voters to show photo identification to take part in federal elections.

Off the table, for now, is the Senate plan — supported by the president — that provides a guest-worker program and a path for illegal immigrants to legalize their status if they pay fines, learn English, have a job and stay out of trouble.

The enforcement-only provisions would not be totally objectionable were they part of a more comprehensive bill.

Take the 700-mile fence. The border with Mexico is some 2,100 miles, and the border with Canada is about 5,500 miles, including land and water. The fence would cover about a third of the Mexican border and none of Canada's. One could argue it's ineffective, especially in light of the fact that 40 percent to 50 percent of illegal immigrants did not sneak in but entered legally and overstayed their visas. Then there is the ugliness of a nation built by immigrants hiding behind walls and barbed wire.

Still, no need for perfection. A fence will make it more difficult, in some border sectors, to enter the United States illegally. So fine: a fence it is — as part of a compromise that accepts the comprehensive Senate provisions.

Same for the plan to give state and local cops power over immigration law. Many law-
enforcement agencies don't want such power, saying their job is to catch actual criminals and prevent actual crimes, not violators of civil statutes. They also say that illegal immigrants who often serve as sources to catch real criminals will be afraid to talk to police.

The legislation, however, does not force local cops into the immigration-enforcement business. It leaves that up to local authorities. So, again, it's an idea full of problems yet acceptable as a negotiated part of a larger solution.

And there's the matter of photo IDs to vote. There is zero evidence that illegal immigrants are flooding voting booths. The legislation solves a problem that does not exist. Yet if anti-immigrant radicals want voters to show who they are, moderate voices should be able to accommodate that — again, if accompanied by the more comprehensive Senate plan.

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has said he would support enforcement-only, and President Bush has said he would sign the bill as a "first step."

In terms of pure politics, it's a craven cave-in to the hard right. Republicans will reverse the gains Bush made among Hispanic voters since xenophobic waves of the mid-1990s. And they will lose the votes of moderates — poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans support a path to legality.

And in terms of policy effectiveness, the enforcement-only approach merely nibbles at the problem. Maybe a few more people will be unable to sneak in. Others will find a way around the fence. Many more will continue to enter legally and stay beyond their allotted time.

Nothing will be done about the 11 million already here without papers. At least the House's enforcement-only
bill says nothing about mass deportations — the more extremist sorts have come to realize it's not the right time to demand such a measure, while the less radical ones who still want enforcement-only see that kicking 11 million out of the country is both impractical and immoral.

So they will remain in the shadows.

The Senate's plan for a guest-worker program combined with a path to legality would have addressed the problem. But the plan might be dead.

Sadly, it isn't just the xenophobic right that is killing it. It's also George Bush. Going back to his days as governor of Texas, he always understood a sensible immigration policy needed to include more than walls, cops and ID cards. Now he is willing to accept those things as a "first step." If he does, it is hard to imagine the hard right will later accept a second.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

excerpts from NY Times article "Congress Adjourns for Election with Work Unfinished :"

...[C]ritics have called this a ''do-nothing Congress,'' citing its failure on legislation to clean up how it does business, revamp the nation's immigration laws and overhaul the Social Security retirement program.

Lawmakers couldn't even agree on a new budget and have to return after the election to finish a number of must-pass federal spending bills.


``If members of the next Congress want to be remembered as members of a 'Do-Something Congress' it must address these issues,'' Paul Light of New York University's Center for the Study of Congress said in releasing its report.

for the full article click here.