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.


Anonymous said...

I am born and rared in this country and think it is a sin what you people are been put trough.Having followed alot of the imagration news on different channels and seen it from different view points.Everyone wants the same thing a job and a better life.We need workers in just about every field littelry and some how a few Americans blame there social and enomic problems on people who have come in the last few years they turn my stomach.Every now and then i think if you were all sent home how quickely America would start to suffer, may be they need to learn the hard way.
Carmel hutton

Anonymous said...

Well done to all of ye who came out to the rally in San Fran. It was a great night,over 1500 people there,many more could not get in the door. Most of the people at the event live in Speaker Pelosi's district. The Irish in America have not had such access to power since Tip O Neill from Boston was U.S.House Speaker in 1980s.I think that means that we in GAA and all other Irish groups out here need to deliver. If last Thursday night is anything to go on ,we'll deliver.

MaryAnn said...

I'm living in San Francisco since 1996 and I can't believe how many people came out in support of this. we owe a huge thanks to Celine and Bart for keeping this on the road. I can't wait to go to Washington on march 7. It'll be great to see all the other Irish from around the country. It makes me feel less alone being part of such a huge organization...

claim jumper said...

You claim we need workers in just about every field (I would like to know what fields you are talking about), yet layoffs, downsizing, and outsourcing are the order of the day. And it is true that new jobs are being created. But we rarely hear about the "net" - whether it's a gain or a loss.
Pfizer just announced the layoff of 600 and the closing of a plant in Brooklyn. There have been recent massive layoffs and Ford and GM, hi-tech, and I don't think I need to describe the devastation that has hit the airline industry since 9/11. I would prefer to see more existing jobs preserved, and fewer new jobs created. This type of dynamic is more stable for society.

Fact is the number of homeless in San Francisco is increasing. Estimated at 5,000 to 15,000 by the recent count. Unemployment is not shrinking, though it's hard to tell because the records-keeping is so poor.

Another fact is that wages are stagnant, yet inflation is on the rise, particularly in housing and energy. Nobody disputes this.

Now if we had a high demand for workers, we would be seeing a rise in wages, and a "net" increase in jobs. We would see less homeless, because many of these people would be snapped up by eager (or more desperate) employers.

Thus, I disagree with your assessment. I don't think we should be expanding our population so much at this time. We are alreadt the 3rd most populous nation with a higher population growth rate than any modern developed nation. Too many Americans are getting the short end of the stick; The economy is not growing fast enough to absorb so many new residents. And you can even read the complaints on this blog from Irish illegals who can't get steady work because they're - gulp - "illegal"... Where's the logic to that?

Of course, there's plenty of work in Iraq. I had to shake my about an irishvoice blog posting from someone (see Dec 31, 2006 "Happy New Year") who claimed his illegal brother tried to join the marines but couldn't because he is illegal. Well, he has been able to scam his way through living and working in the USA. Seems like he could scam his way into the USMC - if he really wanted to.

If you still disagree with me, I urge to consider this; Who's breaking the law in the equation? Who's urging others to breaking the law? Who's aiding and abetting?

Yukon Cornelius said...

^^^ As a US born citizen, I resent the implication that by advocating for change in unworkable immigration laws that I am encouraging and engaging in criminal activity.

As a US citizen, I have a right and duty to stand up and advocate change in immigration legislation if I do not agree with it.

I support comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would give the undocumented Irish a chance to earn their way to legal status.

Don't jump my claim to participate in my democracy by falsely accusing me and other ILIR supporters of encouraging and engaging in criminal activity.

Irish immigrants are not putting native San Francisans out of their homes.

claim jumper said...

Absolutely not. You misunderstood what I had written, or you took it in a manner I hadn't intended.

Our immigration laws may be unworkable, but those of other nations are even worse. For example, since I recently saw a dignitary from Lithuania speak. And the question of citizenship and immigration came up, and - you don't get Lithuanian citizenship unless you are Lithuanian. It's blood thing. Most nations are like that - they just don't take kindly to outsiders. We give citizenship to anyone who can breathe.

But we in the US stand out as the largest absorber of population (like a sponge) of any other nation - We abosrob as many as all the immigrant-absorbing nation combined. But you counter, - "but you so much space here". Not that much space!!!

So when you say our immigration system is unworkable, until you compare it to all the others, then it becomes the "most workable"

I too believe the system needs reform, but I want us to be like the other countries, like Lithuania.

You do not engage in criminal activity by lobbying and petitioning your government. The activities which are against the law vary, involving fraud, labor laws violations, and national security concerns. For example, a foreign national is forbidden from contributing to American political campaigns. Remember the trouble Clinton got into with John Wang or Lee. It is forbidden for a noncitizen to vote. A non-citizen cannot serve on a jury, or become president. A nopn citizen can not serve in some offices and capacities.

Also, a foreigner has to abide by the terms of his visa. If he fails he faces deportation. That's law, and yes i want to change it. And I will continue to petition my government and fight for what I believe.

Anonymous said...

Claim jumper
Last year in America thousands of small busness owners had to close shop because they can not get enough staff.In calforina food was let rot in the fields because lack of workers.America has the lowest unemployment rate ever in its history at the minute.Because of the low value of the dollar forgien vistors are also at an all time high to this country.We also have a very old work force with about 70 million about to retire over the next 20 years we need action fast we need more people not less if want to keep our encomy going as it is.Were do see these homless people in job centers ,no drunk and high on street coners they are not starving to death they get money every month from our govermentmost homless people have mental or addication problems these are immigration related in any why.And you mention GM ,pfizer these companys are just moving factorys over seas to use cheap labour and make there share holders richer they are not going out of buisness it must be all the cheap labour coming from South America making these companys move to Aisa.And on Iraq 2 Irish born men from my neighbourhood have been killed defending your fat arse alone so please have respect and do mention the war in the same terms as immigration
Carmel Hutton

claim jumper said...

Small businesses in America are being destroyed by Walmart. There is no evidence of food rotting the field due to lack of workers. We could use convict labor, mechanize, or raise wages, or grow less labor intensive crops. American business is not dependent on illegal labor.

The unemployment rate measures only those who are activiely seeking employment. It doesn't include everyone who is not working. It is not a true measue of the misery gripping the nation.

And yes Pfizer may be laying off American workers to move operations overseas, but I don't think GM is. I think GM and Ford are downsizing.

Nothing being done in Iraq is remotely related to my arse, which is a lot skinnier than yours. Where do you get off talking about "respect"? Please stick with the facts and logics, and stop the personal attacks. (Moderator please take note)

rumble seat said...

Yes, Carmel. They need to learn the hard way. And luckily we have to dish out the punishment.

Anonymous said...

Claim jumper
There is a bill in the senate right now call a blue card they are hopeing to pass in a rush over the next 6 weeks there is such a shortage of labour in this country at the minute.Go and look at oranges in your supermarket all from other countrys because American fruit froze in the fields no enough people to pick them they were then left to rot.On every bus and trian in every big city the adds are in spainsh on the inside and english on the outside because thats were we sit on the bus now Americans drive and look in Immigrants sit on the bus and look out,with out them the public transport would not last and thousands of jobs would be gone.Anyone claiming welfare or social securety is on the
unemployed list ,sick benifets are not.GM has a new plant in India and one opening in China.Do you not understand these people only want a visa thats why they are illegal at the minute.American business dependes heavily on immigrant labour.Why would you say mechanize some jobs and then give out about wallmart at least wallmart employes people.
Carmel hutton

Claim Jumper said...

All the labor in the world was not going save those oranges from the wrath of mother nature. They weren't ripe to be picked, so there was nothing to be done.
There is no labor shortage in the US.
What you say about the ad in the bus is not true at all.
You are wrong about the way unemployment is measured in America. Welfare recepients are not included in the unemployment rate. The US calculates it differently from Europe.
These illegals do not "only want a visa"...They want a job, and a car, and a house, and a family, and friends, and money, and a vcr/dvd player, personal computer, dishwasher, frost-free refridgerator, self-cleaning oven, education, healthcare, summer vacations....the list goes on. To say they only want a visa is a distortion of the truth
Walmarts are like the Ante Bellum Plantations. Yes, they employ people. They employ "slaves"
You should read "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair to help you understand how raw capitalism works in this country.

Anonymous said...

Iam illegal i only want a visa ,I work hard and have everything else you speak of,so dont pretend you know what other people need .People
like you who make up lies to justify your hate of other people .I hope god will judge you the way you seem to judge everyone else not very well.This is a capitalis society

Anonymous said...

Wow, this definitely is the greatest country in the world. I just finished reading the comments and I must say I really enjoyed the back and forth with claimjumper and Carmel.
I thought that was an interesting name 'claimjumper' but I am unsure whether it is disingenuous towards immigrants or it refers to his/her ancestors actually claimjumping in years gone by. Look we are all immigrants to this country, some by recently wanting a better life....have you ever seen the abject poverty Mexicans try to escape from..... others by being descendants of a brave ancestor who tried to escape similar poverty and/or persecution.
I think the comparison between other countries such as Lithuania and the US is unfair. Historically these countries do not have people immigrating to them, so they are understandably cautious. Immigrants on the other hand built the US. It is what has made, and continues to make this great country a beacon to the world. We cannot have the attitude that 'I'm alright Jack', I’m here and I am keeping my foot to the door so you can't get in na.
Claimjumper seemed to scoff at the idea that an Irish person who tried to get into the Marines but could not because of his legal status. I am sure that I don't need to remind anyone reading this comment that no other nation can even come close to the amount of Medals of Honor won by Irish born people who fought and died defending this country.
I personally know several Irish born men who served with distinction in the military.
I am glad, that as an American citizen, I will be able to go to Washington DC on March 7th and let my voice be heard. I will be saying that YES, I want Immigration Reform that will grant an EARNED PATH TO CITIZENSHIP for the undocumented presently living here. I do not support an AMNISTY.
In my opinion, if someone can prove that they have lived a productive life over the last 5, 10, 15 years in the US, have not been a burden at any time to the State, they should be given the same opportunity our ancestors were given, ie. to live the AMERICAN DREAM.


Christina said...

Can anyone recommend a good resource for getting the backstory on the struggle to get earned citizenship for undocumented workers? I'd like to be informed but don't know where to start and where we're at at the moment.


claim jumper said...

Christina - this is hard, but interesting request. First of the term "undocumented worker" is a bit of an oxymoron, and is a term which has (like person of color) only recently entered common speech. In order to work in the US, the worker must be in compliance with labor and immigration laws - must have a social security number, must withhold taxes, must file a tax return, can not be a minor, etc. But people do work "off the books" in the underground economy - people work for barter as compensation - and people don't report their income if it's cash. Another confusing aspect of this term has to do with the situation when the worker is unemployed. Is he still a worker if he no longer works? The definition of a worker is one who works, when the person is no working the term worker no longer applies.
There are the established legal terms, such as alien, compensation, and then there are these some media terms like "undocumented worker.
You can read about the history of labor and immigration in the US. You might want to dig up the history of Caesar Chavez, though you will find, contrary to popular belief, that Chavez was an American of Yaque Indian heritage and was adamantly opposed to the employing of illegal immigrants / undocumented workers, because the practice depressed wages of his farm laborers. Michelle Makin's "Invasion", Peter Brimlaw "Alien nation" or Pat Buchanan's "A Republic, Not an Empire", are books that I would recommend.

I think the reason you can't find any information is because the concept is unprecented - there has never been earned citizenship for undocumented workers. It's never been done.