Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

The Voice of America reports that the Bush Administration is urging Congress to enact immigration reform.

Other sources report that the Senate is holding hearings to urge President Bush demonstrate his committment for comprehensive immigration reform.

Hopefully our leaders will stop urging each other to action and start acting.

We need them them to enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to EARNED legal status for the undocumented Irish. You can help. Join Irish-America and the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform on Capitol Hill on March 7th. For details click HERE.
Excerpts from Voice of America report:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to make the Bush administration's case for immigration reform. The centerpiece of the administration's plan is guest worker program, which could give most of the nation's estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship.


Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who supports the plan, called on Chertoff and Gutierrez to do more to convince members of their party that it is not amnesty."I would appreciate it if both of you would think through this amnesty issue and find the best arguments we have for what else can be done to eliminate this argument, because it is an impediment in dealing with the 11 million undocumented emigrants," said Mr. Specter.In arguing why the plan is not amnesty, Chertoff and Gutierrez underscored that guest workers would have to meet a series of conditions before getting on a path to citizenship, including paying fines and learning English.


Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, is chairman of the Judiciary Committee:"Reform is overdue," he said. "We must be realistic about the millions of undocumented people in this country. We need to bring people out of the shadows."
To read the the full text of Senator Patrick Leahy's opening statement, click HERE.

To read the testimony of the Secretary of Commerce (Hon Carlos Gutierrez) click HERE.

To read the testimony of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (Hon. Michael Chertoff) click HERE.

To read the full VOA report, click HERE.

To listen to the VOA report, click HERE.

Excerpt from THE HILL report "Irish Fight for Immigration Immigration Reform"

By Ian Swanson

Thousands of Irish-Americans will arrive in Washington 10 days before St. Patrick’s Day to lobby members of Congress to reform immigration laws.

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) organized the March 7 event and expects as many as 4,000 people to attend, many of them traveling to D.C. by bus from the heavily Irish communities of New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

Several members of Congress, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who are writing an immigration bill, spoke at a similar rally last year, as did presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). ILIR Chairman Niall O’Dowd hopes to offer a similar lineup next week.

To read the full report from The Hill, click HERE.

President Bush on Irish-American History Month:

Since our founding, Irish immigrants have come to America's shores in search of better lives.

Today, millions of American citizens are of Irish descent, and they and their forbearers have helped shape our way of life, strengthened our economy, and contributed to the arts, and protected our Nation.

Irish Americans have shown their devotion to our country by serving in our Armed Forces. America is especially grateful to these brave men and women for the sacrifices that have helped preserve the ideals of our country and made the world a safer place.

During the month of March, we reflect on our Nation's past and how Irish Americans helped create the country we live in today.

America is a melting pot of cultures, and Irish-American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Irish-American citizens and remind our people we are blessed to be a Nation of immigrants.

To read the full proclamation at the Whitehouse website, click HERE.

Arizona Governor says Congress must pass immigration reform this year

excerpts from a FOX news report:

"We've heard too much talk about border security and not enough action," Napolitano said in a speech at the National Press Club. She urged Congress to "end the rhetoric, stop the politics, provide sustained funding and turn away from extreme, unworkable solutions that solve nothing and only delay the benefits of real reform."

"All of America is waiting - and time is running out," said Napolitano, who is in Washington for the National Governors Association winter meeting.
In November, she and newly elected Democratic Reps. Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell all defeated Republican opponents who had made tough border restrictions a central campaign issue.

Napolitano won re-election with 63 percent of the vote.

"I ... refuse to concede that illegal immigration is a political winner for those who simplistically suggest we can just 'seal' the border," she said.

Congress must get realistic about its approach and reject those who say the best solution is enforcing the border and ordering all illegal immigrants in the country to leave, she said.

"What a joke," she said of those plans.

To read the fulll story click HERE.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Business Week quotes House Know-Nothing Peter King on Immigration Reform: "If there was a vote tomorrow, it would pass."

Fresh Ideas for the Immigration Debate

With Congress set to take up the contentious issue of immigration reform, we asked experts to weigh in with some constructive thoughts
by Peter Elstrom

In the next week or so, the U.S. is going to begin a ferocious debate over immigration. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) are expected to introduce legislation into the Senate for what they're calling comprehensive immigration reform, an ambitious effort to address everything from illegal immigration from Mexico, and the estimated 12 million undocumented workers now in the country, to technology companies' request for more visas for programmers and engineers. The House is likely to follow with its own legislative effort. And President George W. Bush has already said he supports immigration reform.

To read the full article, click HERE.

Rep. Peter King, who blocked efforts to provide a path to EARNED legal status for the undocumented Irish is quoted as saying, "If there were a vote tomorrow, it would pass."

Monday, February 26, 2007

excerpt from Sacramento Bee article "Immigration debate, with an Irish spin:"

Undocumented residents from Ireland will join D.C. rally in push for more work-based visas.

By Susan Ferriss - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PST Monday, February 26, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO-In a cozy room above a Russian market and a Shanghai-style restaurant, an Irish nanny gently rocked an American baby.

When the nanny reveals that she hails from the Emerald Isle, she said, American citizens are usually warm and welcoming and many speak proudly of their own Irish heritage.
They don't suspect her secret. They'd never imagine that the San Francisco nanny feels a special bond with millions of others, most from Latin America or Asia, who are illegal immigrants -- just as she is.

"The Irish are a bit luckier. We speak English, and we tend to get the better jobs," said the $17-an-hour, full-time nanny. She requested anonymity because she feared she and her 8-year-old son could be located and deported.

Next month, in what some call a critical turning point for their cause, the nanny and more than 150 other undocumented Irish and supporters from California will travel to Washington, D.C., to join a rally on March 7 outside Congress.

Donning "Legalize the Irish" T-shirts, they are expected to join thousands to lobby Congress for an increase in work-based immigrant visas and enactment of a program for undocumented workers to earn legal status. They have powerful allies on Capitol Hill, and they hope to woo more.

To read the full article click HERE.

excerpt from San Jose Merrcury News: "Lofgren Vows Immigration Changes:"


By James Hohmann, Mercury News

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, told an estimated crowd of 1,000 at a town hall meeting Saturday that she -- at the urging of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- would work to pass a comprehensive immigration law by the end of the year.

``With your help and your stories, I believe I can help others in the Congress understand,'' said Lofgren, who became chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law when the Democrats took control of Congress in January. ``If we are just punitive to those who have started to make a life here, who we will really punish is America.''

To read the full article, click HERE.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

excerpt from Washington Times report, "Senate hearing to push Bush on immigration:"

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy will hold a hearing next week that he hopes will get the Bush administration to confirm publicly that it wants "comprehensive immigration reform" this year.

"Chairman Leahy is looking for the Bush administration to walk the walk on comprehensive immigration reform," Tracy Schmaler, spokeswoman for the Vermont Democrat, said yesterday. "President Bush has publicly indicated his support for comprehensive reforms that would provide a realistic solution to bringing millions out of shadows, improve internal and border security and meet the pressing needs of employers for willing workers."

To read more click HERE.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

From Times-Herald Record: Hibernians to lobby Congress for immigration reform

Barbara Bedell: Hibernians to lobby Congress for immigration reform

The recent benefit hosted in its hall in Monroe by the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division One raised several thousand dollars. The purpose was to provide a free bus for people to attend the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Rally March 7 in Washington, D.C.

Brendan O'Dowd, vice president of the Monroe AOH, said the opportunity to lobby members of Congress to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Bill is meaningful for the Irish in Orange County as well as others throughout the nation.

The bus will leave the AOH Hall at 4:45 a.m., arriving in D.C. at 9:45 a.m. Lobbying begins at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill. The rally begins at 2 p.m. at the Holiday Inn where the AOH will be registered and many congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle will attend.

"We are not looking for an amnesty but rather an earned path to citizenship for these people who over the past five, 10 and in some cases 20 years have lived, worked and made their lives here, just as millions of Irish did before them," said Jack Meehan, national president of the AOH.

For a link to the article click HERE.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Most Dangerous Game

As a graduate of NYU, I was disappointed to hear that a handful of students were playing a game of ivory-tower-Minuteman yesterday.

They called their game 'catch an illegal immigrant' and claimed they wanted to promote dialogue. Instead they turned NYU into a forum where the complex and emotional issue of immigration reform was trivialized and turned into a joke for their personal amusement.

Demeaning the undocumented might stir emotions and set the stage for a shouted exchange of extremist soundbites, but it sure doesn't foster constructive dialogue.

Organizers scheduled the game to begin just one block away from the site of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire where 146 young immigrant workers, including Anna Dorrity from Ireland, were killed.

Just across the the park from where this most dangerous game began is the former site of NYU's Loeb Student Center ("Loeb"). While I attended NYU, Loeb was always crowded with commuter students - mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants (including me) - from the outer boros of NYC who gathered there for a quick bite between classes. After I left NYU, Loeb was replaced by a shiny new Center for the Performing Arts built by undocumented workers, including many Irish. My cousin was one of many undocumented Irish who built the Center.

Fortunately, the NYU Know-Nothings were joined by a much larger group of NYU students who knew enough to condemn the game. Hopefully the NYU Know-Nothings learned a lesson about respect for human dignity that they obviously failed to learn from the immigrant nannies who probably raised them.

Others spoke out. Mayor Mike Bloomberg characterized the Know-Nothing game as "not only distasteful but just downright stupid." US Representative Joe Crowley issued a statement calling the game a "disturbing and immature stunt."

NYU students who are genuinely interested in learning more about real undocumented immigrants and perhaps joining the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform's local weekly meetings or the National Lobby Day and Rally in DC on March 7th are encouraged to visit the ILIR website.

Legalize the Irish!

For the NY Post account of the event at NYU click HERE.

For the NY Times account of the event at NYU click HERE.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

excerpt from Tufts Observer editorial "Opening Doors, Changing Minds:"

Improving America’s image can start with its immigration policy. Politicians and legislators need to address immigration reform as a matter of balancing law enforcement and America’s historic pledge of openness to others throughout the world. Our pledge is to those who are oppressed by poverty, lack of opportunity, or political repression outside of our country, and should extend to those already inside our nation—due to those same universal human conditions. Offering citizenship to illegal immigrants would not damage the credibility of American law, as some hard-line supporters contend. Rather, it is America’s role as the symbol of hope and opportunity to the world which is at stake if the country continues to reform its immigration system with hard-line policies of exclusion and proposals aimed simply at punishing, and not including, illegal immigrants.

To read the full editorial click HERE.

excerpt from LA Times article: "Theme for Lent is immigration"

Roman Catholic leaders in Orange and Los Angeles counties marked Ash Wednesday — the start of a season of repentance and reflection — with a plea to Catholics and others to commit themselves to immigration reform.

In Orange County, the church asked people to fast — consuming liquids only — for one day between March 26 and 30 as an appeal for citizenship opportunities for undocumented immigrants and reductions in visa application backlogs for the families of immigrants.

To read the full article published in the Los Angeles Times website, click HERE.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ILIR chairman Niall O'Dowd discussed immigration reform with Congressman Charles Rangel, (above), the head of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, at a 45-minute meeting on February 21. O'Dowd said he was encouraged by the support of one of the most powerful figures in Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.

Learn more about the history of Irish immigration to the United States at the US Postal Service website here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

excerpt from "They are America," an editorial published by the NY Times on February 18, 2007:

The new year began with renewed optimism for the chances of sensible immigration reform in Washington. The hope is justified, but time is short and real change will still require boldness and courage.

Citizenship must be the key to reform. The idea of an earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants was missing from Bush's State of the Union address this year, though he has continued to say his usual favorable words about reform. The new Democratic Congress and moderate Republicans cannot be afraid to stand up to the anti-amnesty demagogues and lead Bush to a solution.

Enforcement of laws cannot be ignored. Punish immigrants who enter illegally. But open a path to their full inclusion in American life.

To read the full editorial, click here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Legalize my Aunties!

My two aunties are living undocumented in America so they cannot visit me in Ireland.
Mammy and I cannot join my aunties in Washington for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform's National Lobby Day and Rally on March 7, 2007. However, we are heading down to the ILIR meeting in Dublin on April 14, 2007 to support the undocumented Irish in America.

Up Donegal!

Legalize the Irish!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Philadelphia, Here I Come...

Information on Philadelphia Fundraiser:

Friday February 16
The Philadelphia GAA & The Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center present
A Night Out With The Hooligans
The Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center (Commodore John Barry Club)
6815 Emlen Street
Philadelphia, PA

For further details, contact the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center at (610) 789-6355

"O'Bama on comprehensive immigration reform and the undocumented Irish:

"The determined optimism of the Irish people has enabled them to grab hold of hope in the United States, from South Boston to the south side of Chicago. It's an optimism expressed in three issues so important to Irish Americans today: a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, an American immigration policy that keeps faith with our tradition of offering opportunity to those who seek it, and strong economic and cultural ties between our two nations.


"We must also pursue immigration policies that keep open the doors of opportunity in our own country. My father's experience has informed my own views on the issue, and I have seen the enormous contributions that Irish immigrants have made to this country. Last summer, I joined hundreds of thousands of people in Chicago to march on behalf of immigration reform, walking shoulder to shoulder with many Irish Americans who shared their own personal stories of hope and opportunity.

"Yet our system is broken, and fixing it demands a comprehensive approach. Last year, I reached across the aisle to work with Republicans on this. Our proposal would strengthen border security and prohibit employers from hiring illegal immigrants, but it also recognizes that the deportation of 12 million people is impossible.

"That's why it proposes a tough, earned path to citizenship for those in the United States illegally; replaces the flood of undocumented workers with a new flow of guestworkers; and ensures that law-abiding immigrants are welcome to pursue their dreams."The ties between America and Ireland go far beyond bloodlines. U.S. investment in Ireland helped create the Celtic Tiger, and Ireland's economic success has in turn led to a boom in Irish investment in the United States. Incalculable cultural exchanges draw us together, as do common causes and common beliefs.To read Senator

Obama's full statement as published in the Irish Echo, click HERE.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Because of the holiday, the weekly Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform meeting normally held on Wednesday evenings in the Heritage has been rescheduled until Thursday, February 15th.

ILIR Executive Director Kelly Fincham will be on hand to provide the latest information on ILIR activities.

Nothing says I love you so well as a "Legalize the Irish" tee shirt or wristband. Unfotunately, the ILIR is unable to provide same day delivery.

However, you can celebrate Valentine's Day by signing up as a couple to join the ILIR for the National Lobby Day and Rally in Washington DC on Wednesday, March 7, 2007.

Couples who lobby Congress together on behalf of the undocumented Irish, stay together.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ILIR volunteer appeals to Irish in Vincent Browne's Village Magazine

Support the undocumented in the US PDF Print E-mail
Seamus Ryan
Monday, 12 February 2007
With loaded pen and heavy heart I write to you, asking that you and your readers consider the moral, legal and sentimental conundrum in which 50,000 Irish-Americans find themselves.

Over the centuries, Irish curraghs and sailing ships of all shapes and sizes departed in search of new lands, new conquests, and new challenges. During the Famine, this westernbound exodus had a very survivalist dimension, and most especially, during that time, the present special relationship between Ireland and the United States of America was cemented.

Read On

Monday, February 12, 2007

Report from AOH fundraiser in Monroe, NY:

The AOH Hall in Monroe, NY was full on Saturday night as our Orange County friends came out in force to show their support for Immigration Reform. It was a wonderful night as MC and coordinator Paul Byrne of WTBQ 'A Drop of the Irish' 1110 AM kept the disks spinning between live bands. Dennis Browne, the AOH Orange County President and District Director, spent all night in the kitchen, ably supported by division members, making sure everyone had enough to eat.
Enda Keegan, a Kilkenny native, got the night off to a great start, and he was followed by MacGillicuddy Reeks. The young ladies from Sheehan/Gormley School of Irish Dance brought everyone in the Hall to their feet. It was plain to see that the Irish tradition is alive and well north of the city. The Orange County AOH Division #1 Pipes and Drums entertained the still standing crowd with patriotic tunes including 'A Nation Once Again' before Ann-Marie Maloney sang both the Irish and American National Anthems.
This was followed by a rousing speech from Peter Coyle, a member of AOH Div 9 New York City and an ILIR volunteer. Peter pointed out how important it is that Americans show their support for the undocumented Irish presently living in the U.S. His views were echoed by Samantha Melia, Stephen McSweeney and Mary Brennan. Brendan O'Dowd, Vice-President of AOH Division #1 finished off the speeches by asking everyone present to come to Washington DC on March 7th for the National Lobby Day.

The final act of the night was The Wild Rovers who kept the crowd entertained until the wee hours. There were wonderful spot prizes donated by local businesses and friends of the ILIR. Overall the night was a tremendous success with enough people expressing their desire to go to Washington DC that a bus will be leaving from the AOH Hall in Monroe on March 7th. Anyone from the Orange County area wishing to go should contact Brendan O'Dowd (845) 551-0563 or
Paul Byrne (845) 800 2124
('A Drop of the Irish' can be heard on 1110 AM and live via the Internet on Sundays from 12 to 1PM)
Today is Lincoln's Birthday, to read what Linccoln had to say about the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party of his day, click HERE.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Irish make their presence felt in fight over illegal immigration

150 from Bay Area to rally in D.C. for legalization efforts

Friday, February 9, 2007

Irish immigrants and Irish Americans in the Bay Area are mobilizing for another round of activism in the debate over illegal immigration.

About 1,500 people turned out for an immigration reform rally in San Francisco last week, and 150 plan to head to Washington, D.C., next month to join a protest with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, a national group working to legalize undocumented immigrants.

Elaine, a San Francisco nanny who wouldn't give her last name because she lacks legal immigration status, plans to leave her 6-year-old son with her sister and fly to the nation's capital to join the call for comprehensive immigration reform on March 7.

She said she feels a sense of commonality with illegal immigrants from Mexico, who make up the majority of the estimated 12 million people living in the United States illegally.

"We're all in the same boat," she said. "The Irish are lucky because we speak English and we're white: We do get treated better. But we (undocumented immigrants) are all hard workers. We all want a better life."

Though the Irish are only a small slice of the country's illegal immigrant population, their outspoken activism has added another dimension to the public perception of illegal immigrants, said Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum in Washington.

"They came last year with these white T-shirts that said 'Legalize the Irish,' and people kind of stopped and paused and looked twice at them on Capitol Hill," she said. "There's a substantial Asian population, a substantial Irish population; it's not just a Latino issue. They serve as a helpful reminder of how multifaceted the debate is. "

The Irish have a lot in common with other immigrant groups in America, said Margaret McPeake, co-director of the Irish Studies Program at New College of California in San Francisco. Irish Americans have a sense of their deep roots in the United States, combined with a sympathy for the difficult economic and political realities in Ireland that spurred the last big wave of immigration in the 1980s, she said.

"That understanding makes people willing to band together and see the Irish experience as part of a larger immigrant story," said McPeake.

Celine Kennelly, director of San Francisco's Irish Immigration Pastoral Center, estimates that 50,000 of the country's 150,000 Irish-born residents are illegal, with many thousands of them in the Bay Area. Most of them entered the country on a legitimate student, work or tourist visa and stayed after it expired.

"The immigration system absolutely needs to be fixed," said Kennelly. The undocumented Irish "have employed people, they've paid taxes, they've contributed favorably to society, they've tried every visa option and entered the 'green card' lottery every year. But it's becoming impossible to live here without a Social Security number and a driver's license. It's a pressured situation."

Elaine said she wants to become a legal permanent U.S. resident so she can build a stable life in her adopted city without fear of being picked up by immigration authorities. She also wants the laws to change so she take her son back to his homeland so he can stay connected to his grandparents and his Irish heritage.

"If everyone's quiet, nothing will happen," said Elaine. "I might as well speak out and feel like I've done something."

Kennelly said she's hopeful that, with Congress now in Democratic hands, it will pass an immigration bill this year that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and more legal avenues for foreign citizens to work in the United States.

"We're going to keep knocking on doors and letting people know this is a huge Irish issue," she said. "We need to have it addressed in a timely and proper manner."

Crossroads Festival

Immigration will be a topic of discussion at the Crossroads Irish-American Festival in San Francisco, March 8-17.

For more information on the festival, call (415) 437-3427.

Irish Gov't welcomes Bush's State of Union comments on immigration reform:

from an Irish Times article by Killian Doyle (published January 24, 2007):

In a statement today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said he "warmly" welcomed Mr Bush's comments, which he said would "add significant momentum" to the campaign to secure rights for undocumented immigrants in the US.

"[President] Bush has consistently called for a humane and balanced solution to this sensitive issue. His support for the enactment of legislation that would regularise the status of the documented is particularly encouraging," Mr Ahern said.

"The Government is determined to continue its active engagement on behalf of our people in the US who remain caught in the shadow of fear and uncertainty," the Minister added.

Mr Ahern said he and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern intended to raise the issue again with Mr Bush and other senior US politicians when they visit the US over the forthcoming St Patrick's Day holiday period.

Fine Gael's emigrant affairs spokesman Paul Connaughton also welcomed Mr Bush's comments, saying his party was committed to continuing lobbying the US political and business community on the issue.

"I believe that in terms of developing a solution for the undocumented Irish who have lived, worked and built a life in the US we have reached an important milestone, but the battle is only really beginning," he said.

"The case for the undocumented Irish must be made on the grounds of the contribution that these people are making, each and every day, to the economic well-being of the United States.

"Fine Gael and Labour have published a joint policy document entitled Reaching Out: Caring for the Irish Abroad in which they outline measures they would take to help emigrants if elected to government.

To read the full Irish Times article, click HERE.

Director of US Citizensip and Immigrations Services on immigration reform:

''Immigration, as we all know, is the hot-button domestic issue of the day,'' Emilio Gonzalez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce "And I'll go one step further and I'll tell you that immigration reform is probably as important as the civil rights movement was back in the '60s.''
. . .

''The changes would be almost as dramatic,'' he told The Miami Herald. ``We are talking about how we treat 12 million people that are here, that are in the shadows. We are talking about how we treat legal immigrants. We're talking about how we bring in more people.

To read a Miami Herald article about Emilio Gonzalez' address to the Miami Chamber of Congress in the Miami Herald, click HERE.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pelosi pledges support to ILIR

Pelosi Pledges Support to ILIR

By Mary Donovan (Irish Voice)

More than 1,500 Irish Americans packed into the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco last Thursday at a mega rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform, with another 150 signing up for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform’s March 7 rally in Washington, D.C.

The massive crowd heard a ringing endorsement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi via a message from her office which said she was looking forward to seeing ILIR members in the nation’s capital on March 7.

Pelosi’s immigration staffer Harriet Ishimoto said the speaker considered immigration reform a priority and that it could not succeed without ILIR’s efforts.

Ishimoto also told the crowd that Speaker Pelosi was making the resources of both her D.C. and San Francisco offices available to ILIR volunteers.

Last week’s rally was organized by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in conjunction with the Irish Pastoral Center (IPC) in San Francisco. IPC executive director Celine Kennelly said it was the biggest event the venue had hosted in decades.

The rally was opened by the Irish American Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom, who pledged his support to the Irish. Rally organizers were thrilled that Newsom, embroiled in a political crisis over an extramarital affair, did not let them down on the night. He happily pulled on the “Legalize the Irish” T-shirt and posed for photographs with the crowd.

There was a huge media presence at the rally with representatives from the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Ireland’s national TV and radio networks, RTE and TG4.

The huge crowd began arriving at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. kick-off. One young couple, who had driven in from San Jose for the rally, said they were at their wits’ ends. Mary and Patrick, who are the parents of two young children, said they were running out of time. “We’ve been here for nine years now and we have two children who are both at school here. I can’t drive them to and from school anymore because I can’t renew my driving license,” Mary said.

Pointing to her husband, she added, “Pat’s built up a small plumbing business, he’s got four people working full time for him, pays all his taxes and everyone thinks we’re legal. I don’t know what we’re going to do if this doesn’t work.”

Mary and Pat have already booked their flights to D.C. and are bringing their children with them. “We have to take a stand on this,” said Pat. “At least we’ll be able to tell the kids we did our best to fight for them. It would break their hearts to leave their friends at school here. It’s all they’ve ever known.”

However, like everyone else in the crowd, they took great heart from what they heard. Speaker after speaker reiterated how important San Francisco was in the political campaign and urged everyone to let Speaker Pelosi, the congressional representative for the area, know the Irish wanted change.

Local council member Fiona Ma passed up an engagement in Sacramento to speak at the rally. She said it was vitally important that the San Francisco Irish continued to make their voices heard. “Believe me,” she said, “your calls are on not falling on deaf ears.”

Ma also announced that the normally fractious city council in San Francisco (Board of Supervisors) had joined with Newsom in passing a resolution in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and supporting the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform campaign.

San Francisco’s Irish Consul General Emer Deane made an impassioned appeal to the Irish to keep faith with the battle and reiterated the Irish government’s support for ILIR.

Bart Murphy, the chairman of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers, slammed those who said the Irish were looking for a special deal, instead likening the Irish effort to Thomas the Tank Engine.

“Contrary to the comments of some naysayers, the Irish are not looking for a special deal in this campaign. We are leveraging our national experience of over 200 years of immigration for the benefit of all immigrant groups in the U.S. Like Thomas the Tank, we just happen to be the useful engine of this particular train,” Murphy said. This was a common refrain for the night as every speaker described the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

ILIR Vice Chairman Ciaran Staunton said, “We’re all in this together. We’re taking this battle to Congress on behalf of all immigrants. No matter where you came from — Guatemala or Gort in Mayo or Mexico, Tralee or Tegucigalpa — we’re all immigrants and we’re all in this together. When you attack one immigrant community, you attack us all.” Faced with a sea of t-shirts in the crowds, ILIR Executive Director Kelly Fincham said, “Every one of you wearing your Legalize the Irish t-shirt tonight represents every one of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Their battle is our battle.”

Describing the long shared history of Irish America, Angus McCarthy told the crowd how he had also been illegal in the 1980s and won his green card in a lottery. Now an immigrant rights commissioner in San Francisco, McCarthy said, “I was a beneficiary in the late 1980s and I am very grateful for the work that was done then. I’m here because I believe that we Irish don’t pull the ladder up behind us.”

Speaking after the rally, Kennelly confirmed that over 150 people were booked on red-eye flights for the 3,000-mile trek to D.C. on March 7. “This is what it’s all about — let’s get out there and make a difference,” she said.

upcoming events

Saturday, February 10th
ILIR Fundraiser @ The AOH Hall (Monroe, NY)
6:00 PM

An AOH organized fundraiser to benefit the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform will be held at the AOH Hall in Monroe (10 North Main St., Monroe). Featuring music by Macgillicuddy Reeks, Enda Keegan, and The Wild Rovers! There will also be a special guest singer, Irish dancers, bagpipers, and stories from ILIR members. The minimum donation is $15 (100% goes to the ILIR!). Come out and show your support! Call (845)783-0205 for more info.
Organizer(s): Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform
Venue: AOH Hall

Friday, February 23rd
ILIR Fundraising Banquet
7:00 PM (Cocktail hour 7-8pm)
A fundraising banquet for the Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform will be held at the Local 103 IBEW Hall (256 Freeport St., Dorchester). Featuring Congressional speakers, a DJ, and live bands.
Tickets are $50.
Call Niamh Daly for tickets and details: (617) 319-1674.
Organizer(s): Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform
Venue: Local 103 IBEW

Monday, February 05, 2007

To listen to a report on RTE Drivetime radio show about the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform's meeting in San Francisco this week, click HERE.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

San Francisco ready to March on DC!

I heard over one hundred people from San Francisco have already signed up to travel to Wasihington DC join the National Lobby Day and Rally in support of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. Seems I heard wrong. They've only gone and got 200 flying in from San Francisco!!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

BUSH to Democratic Caucus: Whitehouse wants to help pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

President Bush addressed the House Democratic Caucus Winter Meeting in Williamsburg Virginia today. After discussing several issues in which he claimed the the Whitehouse shared common goals with the Democratic Party, including a balanced budget, improved education and healthcare, and reducing America's dependence on fossil fuels, the President described the achievnment of a comprehensive immigration reform bill as a "great goal."

Warm and enthusiastic applause met his statement that the Whitehouse wants to help achieve the common goal of comprehensive immigration reform. The President noted that comprehensive immigration reform would mean that law enforcement authorities could stop wasting their time chasing people who just came here to work and allow them to focus on the real threats like criminals and terrorists.

The President did not specifically address how to deal with the 12 million undocumented immigrants (50,000 undocumented Irish) already living and working in the United States. However, the immigration plan set forth on the Whitehouse website does address the need to provide a path to EARNED legal status for the undocumented immigrants already in America.

Here is an excerpt from that plan as provided on the Whitehouse website:

We Must Bring Undocumented Workers Already In The Country Out Of The Shadows

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Account For The Millions Of Immigrants Already In The Country Illegally. Illegal immigration causes serious problems, putting pressure on public schools and hospitals and straining State and local budgets. People who have worked hard, supported their families, avoided crime, led responsible lives, and become a part of American life should be called in out of the shadows and under the rule of American law.

The President Opposes An Automatic Path To Citizenship Or Any Other Form Of Amnesty. Amnesty, as a reward for lawbreaking, would only invite further lawbreaking. Amnesty would also be unfair to those lawful immigrants who have patiently waited their turn for citizenship and to those who are still waiting to enter the country legally.

The President Supports A Rational Middle Ground Between A Program Of Mass Deportation And A Program Of Automatic Amnesty. It is neither wise nor realistic to round up and deport millions of illegal immigrants in the United States. But there should be no automatic path to citizenship. The President supports a rational middle ground founded on the following basic tenets:

No Amnesty. Workers who have entered the country illegally and workers who have overstayed their visas must pay a substantial penalty for their illegal conduct.

In Addition To Paying A Meaningful Penalty, Undocumented Workers Must Learn English, Pay Their Taxes, Pass A Background Check, And Hold A Job For A Number Of Years Before They Will Be Eligible To Be Considered For Legalized Status.

Any Undocumented Worker Seeking Citizenship Must Go To The "Back Of The Line." The program should not reward illegal conduct by making participants eligible for citizenship ahead of those who have played by the rules and followed the law. Instead, program participants must wait their turn at the back of the line.

For the full Whitehouse plan on immigration, click HERE.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Morning Call calls for immigration reform now:

From The Morning Call Editorial:
February 1, 2007

Congress should pass immigration reform before primary campaigns heat up

The U.S. Senate is a more deliberative body than the House.

That common wisdom does not apply, however, when it comes to immigration reform on Capitol Hill. Last year, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill and is expected to pass a similar measure during this session. Last year's bill included improved enforcement efforts, a program to let immigrants in as guest workers, and a process for illegal immigrants to become legal U.S. citizens. Once again, Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are at the forefront of the Senate's effort in this regard, with plans to introduce revised legislation in February.

The House, however, is an entirely different story. Last year, then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., refused to allow a vote on immigration reform without support from a ''majority of the majority'' party in the GOP-controlled House.

Eventually, the House passed an enforcement-only bill following little debate. This year, the Los Angeles Times noted in a story Monday, ''the House is legislative terra incognita.'' President Bush set the right tone in his State of the Union address last week. He called for a ''legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country,'' a better assimilation process and the resolution of the status of about 12 million illegal immigrants ''without animosity and without amnesty.''

''Amnesty'' is a word fraught with bad memories and intense emotions for people who opposed the Senate's attempt last year at immigration reform. The roots of their anger stem from 1986 immigration reform, which included an amnesty for 3 million illegal immigrants.

Critics have said the legislation encouraged more people to come illegally to the United States, with the assumption that they eventually would be given citizenship. Though there is much to be learned from the Reagan-era legislation, critics should stop dredging it up every time they seek to block comprehensive immigration reform in the 21st century.

The past is history — so is the word ''amnesty'' — and this country is long overdue to find reasonable and effective ways to better deal with 12 million people living in the shadows.

Lawmakers are in a tough spot. Immigrant advocates seek better labor protections even as businesses worry about a supply of labor. Employer verification programs, which make sure job applicants aren't illegal immigrants, need closer scrutiny by federal officials.

Also, time is limited for the simple reason that immigration reform could become campaign fodder for the multitude of 2008 presidential primary candidates. Latinos comprise the nation's fastest-growing bloc of potential voters, and that fact is not lost on campaign managers in either political party.

Capitol Hill should pass comprehensive reform before political campaigns intensify in about six months. Immigration issues won't just vanish.

Copyright © 2007, The Morning Call

For a link to the editorial, click HERE.



Last night in San Franscisco, The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform announced a nation-wide meeting in Ireland for families of the undocumented. The meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 14, 2007 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Jury’s Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin.

Parents, relatives and concerned friends of the undocumented Irish in America are urged to attend the information and support meeting and make their voices heard to Ireland's elected officials.

Irish who have been denied entry or re-entry to the United States based upon past immigration infractions are also urged to attend and share their stories.

This is an excellent forum for those who wish to lend their support but cannot travel to the United States.

Niall O' Dowd and other executives from Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform will be on hand to discuss the latest news about their efforts in America on behalf of the Irish undocumented and to organize support groups for the parents and families of the undocumented.

Please contact your family and friends in Ireland and encourage them to attend the meeting Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform meeting for families of the undocumented living in America.

The issue of the undocumented Irish in America impacts thousands of families across Ireland. A hall that can accommodate 800 people has been booked. Hopefully thousands of Irish citizens will make the journey to Dublin in support of their loved ones in America.


Calling all undocumented! Calling all American-Irish!

The National Lobby Day and Rally for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform is scheduled for March 7th in Washington DC.

Register to join the ILIR in DC by calling (914) 420-5894.

Make it your business to bring at least five friends along with you to Capitol Hill. It's imperative that we fill the marble halls of Congress with thousands of people wearing "Legalize the Irish" t-shirts. This is the most effective way to make our voices heard!

Spread the word like wildfire from now until March 6th... We need everyone to join us in Washington DC for the National Lobby Day and Rally. Don’t take "No" for an answer.