Saturday, March 31, 2007
Out of Ireland to feature Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform's March 7 National Lobby Day and Rally this week
The feature will air in New York on WLIW Ch.21, Sunday (04/01) at 5.00pm and on Monday (04/02) at 11.30pm.
The program will also air on PBS stations across the US - for dates/times check local listings.
Friday, March 30, 2007
By Sam Youngman
March 29, 2007
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) joined a group of Democratic senators and evangelical leaders in calling for action on comprehensive immigration reform.
Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), along with Graham, all argued that the immigration issue, which they said should include some sort of guest-worker program, is a moral one.
Graham said the country has broken borders, and when it comes to addressing illegal immigration, a broken Congress.
“But I see hope,” Graham said.
Kennedy said he is confident there will be discussion of a reform package that contains a guest-worker program, adding this could “hopefully” begin within the next work period.
On issues like border security and enforcement, Kennedy said Democrats and Republicans had reached “broad agreement.”
Few would dispute, though, that there continue to exist a number of contentious points of disagreement.
The bipartisan group of senators was joined by the House sponsors of immigration reform introduced last week, Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
The lawmakers were also flanked by a group of Hispanic evangelical leaders and Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church.
READ ARTICLE AT THE HILL WEBSITE
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The view from inside the main hall at Ellis Island, where the House Subcommittee on Immigration will hold a hearing on immigration Friday morning.
Intrepid New York supporters of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform who travelled across the country to make their presence known at so many anti-reform hearings last summer, look forward to attending a the Subcommittee hearing so close to home.
NPR report on the Immigration Hearing
By Nicole Gaouette, Times Staff Writer
March 29, 2007
WASHINGTON — With President Bush looking to counter a legacy increasingly marred by the war in Iraq, the White House has launched a bold, behind-the-scenes drive to advance a key domestic goal: immigration reform.
For a month, White House staffers and Cabinet members have met three to four times a week with influential Republican senators and aides to hash out a consensus plan designed to draw a significant number of GOP votes.
With that effort largely completed, Republicans were hoping to present their proposal Wednesday to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who would lead the Democrats in any attempt to move a bill through the Senate...
Time is short, though. Immigration is one of the few areas where the Democratic Congress sees eye to eye with the lame-duck president, but strains between the two are likely to worsen as the 2008 election nears.
Though public work on an immigration overhaul appeared to have slowed, momentum simply moved behind closed doors...
The White House has focused its energy on the Senate, which plans to move first. If the Senate can pass a bipartisan bill with strong Republican backing, it could give conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats in the House the political cover to vote for it.
The Republican strategy sessions, held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, have typically included Gutierrez, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, White House personnel, six to 10 senators and various aides. Republicans with real differences on immigration are taking part...
Details of the Republican plan have not been released, but some of the proposals are known. Some illegal immigrants would be given legal status through an infinitely renewable "Z visa." Those who want to become U.S. citizens would have to leave the country and return legally. A guest worker program would be created that does not allow participants to bring family members, remain in the U.S. or become citizens. And, to ensure that employers can check on whether job applicants are legal, databases at Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration would be linked...
READ FULL ARTICLE
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform supporters will attend the House hearing on immigration at Ellis Island on Friday, 3/30/07
The hearing, sponsored by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, is scheduled for Friday, March 30, 2007 at 11:00am and will focus on Historic and Personal Reflections on American Immigration, Past, Present, and Future.
Irish immigrants have played a large role American Immigration's past, continue this tradition in American Immigration's present, and with the hard work of Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform volunteers, the Irish will remain a vital part of American Immigration's future.
Directions to Ellis Island
HEAR MORE ABOUT ANNIE MOORE'S LIFE
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
To get the STRIVE Act through the House, more bipartisan support is needed.
YOU need to pick up the phone today and tomorrow (March 28th & 29th), and contact your elected official in Congress to urge them to support the bipartisan STRIVE Act.
Call 1-800-417-7666 and follow the instructions to connect with your Congressional Representative.
Tell them - We NEED COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW!
Tell them - You want them vote YES on the STRIVE Act .
Make your voice heard. The future of the undocumented Irish in America is at stake.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Wednesday and Thursday (March 28th and 29th) -- Join the National Phone-In Day with the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
Call your friends and family and ecourage them to attend the upcoming Dublin meeting for family and friends of the Irish undocumented in America. The meeting is scheduled for Saturday April 14th from1pm-4pm in Jurys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007; A14
THE BATTLE over immigration reform was joined in Congress last week with the introduction of sweeping legislation that would toughen enforcement, tighten border controls and provide eventual citizenship for millions who entered the country illegally. That the opening legislative salvo came in the House, where real reform went nowhere in the last Congress, and that the bill has bipartisan sponsors generated fresh optimism that the broken-down immigration system may be replaced by a workable one. The optimism will be justified, though, only if the White House, which has been trying to coax a consensus on immigration from divided Republican lawmakers, sticks to its guns and fashions a blueprint for action that is both practical and comprehensive.
The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, and Luis V. Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, is a sound starting point for the debate. It should appeal to Republicans concerned about enforcement and border security, whose support will be needed in both houses of Congress. And it should also be attractive to Democrats determined to provide a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants already here and for future immigrants who will enter the country on legal work visas.
Thick as a phone book, the bill is similar in structure, and in some details, to one introduced in the last Congress by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), with whom Mr. Flake and Mr. Gutierrez worked closely last year. For immigration hawks, there is plenty to like: Before the bill's citizenship provisions kick in, stringent new standards on workplace enforcement and border security would have to be satisfied. They include a major build-up in personnel and technology monitoring the nation's border. In addition, the legislation requires tougher penalties for a range of immigration-related crimes and the creation of a system whereby employers can electronically verify that employees and job applicants are authorized to work here.
The bill would require immigrants here illegally to cross a border and then reenter the country legally -- in theory on the same day, or even within hours -- thereby "rebooting" and legitimizing their status at any time within six years. This is a political fig leaf that will allow immigration hawks to claim a symbolic victory, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory if it establishes a system so onerous or risky that immigrants simply decide it isn't worth it and remain in the shadows. For now, the bill's sponsors affirm that the "rebooting" requirement will be sufficiently flexible and common-sensical -- providing waivers for single parents, for instance, and allowing heads of household to "reboot" on behalf of their families -- that most illegal immigrants will comply.
Conservatives opposed to citizenship for illegal immigrants are fond of pillorying it as "amnesty." This bill provides nothing of the sort. In addition to requiring lawful reentry to the country, it would entail immigrants paying a $2,000 fine and any back taxes they owe, clearing a security and background check, learning English and civics, compiling a felony-free record, and submitting proof of past employment. Only after six years and after satisfying those requirements could workers apply for permanent residency status, which could lead to citizenship.
The Senate, which proved much more receptive to realistic immigration reform than the House last year, has so far produced no legislation this session, despite pledges from Mr. Kennedy and Mr. McCain that they remain intent on doing so. As the Bush administration continues to plug away with Republicans, it realizes that time is short; any bill up for debate too late this year will be at risk of succumbing to the passions engendered by next winter's presidential primaries.
President Bush will have precious few chances to add to his domestic policy legacy before he leaves office. Immigration reform may be his last, best hope. The moment for pushing is now.
READ AT WASHINGTON POST WEBSITE
Sunday, March 25, 2007
A year after 500,000 people marched downtown, Congress is trying again to pass comprehensive reform.
March 25, 2007
ONE YEAR AGO TODAY, more than half a million people gathered peacefully in downtown Los Angeles, stunning the country and igniting a productive (if occasionally shrill) debate about how to bring U.S. immigration policy in line with reality.
Now it's up to Congress and President Bush to finish what those marchers started. The demonstrators were protesting a grossly punitive immigration bill in the House of Representatives and asking for a legal path out of the shadow economy. Immigration restrictionists, who until that moment held the upper hand in the debate, were rendered nearly speechless at the sight of so many families cheerfully spreading a message of upbeat inclusion.
The Senate reacted to the ensuing season of protest by laboriously cobbling together a series of immigration packages that, while flawed, at least combined visa reform and a legalization process with enforcement.
But the bills fell prey to election-year populism and a lack of political will to tackle a complex problem, leaving the country with unrealistic visa allotments and an estimated 12 million people living outside the law. Overwhelmed (and overexcited) local governments jumped in where Congress failed to tread, passing a patchwork of in-state tuition laws, legals-only housing codes and taxes on remittances to Mexico.
Then last week, Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) introduced a promising, comprehensive bill that includes border and workplace enforcement, a guest-worker program and a more simple path to legalization than was being proposed last year.
Undocumented residents under the bill would be required to "touch back" to a port of entry before applying, with some exceptions. It's a largely symbolic measure worth accepting if applicants are processed promptly.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) also plans to introduce legislation similar to the 2005 bill he cosponsored with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Some Senate Republicans are considering more enforcement-oriented bills that look to be unpalatable to Democrats.
The president, who has made immigration reform his last ambitious domestic project, should continue pressing for a comprehensive package to be passed this year.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other administration officials have rightly placed immigration reform near the top of their legislative agendas.
Chertoff has a good story to tell enforcement-centric representatives: Border crossings have declined, thanks to thousands of new National Guard troops and Border Patrol agents. The notorious "catch-and-release" policy of giving apprehended border crossers a court date and letting them walk free has all but ended everywhere except in the interior of the country. Visa-processing backlogs also have been slashed.
Anti-reform members of Congress are running out of excuses to act. The odds remain long, but now is the best chance to give lasting meaning to the march of one year ago.
READ AT LOS ANGELES TIMES WEBSITE
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Ahern welcomes US immigration bill
Friday, March 23, 2007
Bipartisan Bill in House Includes Guest-Worker Program
By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 23, 2007;
A bipartisan proposal for comprehensive immigration reform that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to participate in a guest-worker program and possibly gain citizenship was introduced in the House yesterday, the first to be submitted since Democrats took control of Congress this year.
The proposal from Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is a far cry from a measure passed by the Republican-controlled House in 2005 that focused on tough enforcement actions to reduce illegal immigration. The House bill died in a conference committee along with a competing Senate bill that was similar to the Flake-Gutierrez proposal.
Flake said the legislation is needed because current laws have failed to seal the border and to stop the hiring of illegal workers. "This bill addresses that problem by bolstering border security, increasing interior enforcement, and creating a temporary worker program that's enforceable and fair," he said.
Gutierrez acknowledged that opponents of guest-worker programs inside and outside the House will try to pick the bill apart. "I know that there are those out there already revving up their fax machines, ready to malign and mischaracterize this legislation," he said.
The bill seeks to clamp down on illegal border crossings from Mexico while allowing some illegal
workers and their family members already in the United States to legally remain for up to six years if they pay a $1,000 fine for breaking the law and continuously hold a job.
Illegal immigrants who become guest workers could eventually become citizens if they have broken no additional laws, leave the country, return legally, pay a second $1,000 fine and become proficient English speakers.
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
Thursday, March 22, 2007
WASHINGTON, March 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the introduction of the
Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill, Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act of 2007 (STRIVE Act of 2007):
"I applaud today's introduction of the STRIVE Act of 2007. It is a significant step forward.
"It reflects a strong commitment by a bipartisan group of House Memberstoward realistic and comprehensive immigration reform. It provides an excellent framework for Congress and the President to begin work on the vital task of immigration reform, collaboratively and on a bipartisan basis. The President should embrace this framework.
"Our priorities on immigration reform are clear. Our first responsibility to the American people is their safety. We must secure our borders and enforce our laws, while also protecting against discrimination and adhering faithfully to the rule of law. At the same time, we must enact
immigration reform that is humane and honors our American tradition of being a nation of immigrants and a land of opportunity for all.
"Today, the House has begun the hard work of addressing immigration reform."
SOURCE Office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
The U.S. House today restarts the immigration debate with a bipartisan bill that would increase security while allowing people to come here and work under tightly controlled circumstances.
It also would allow those here illegally since before last summer to eventually become citizens if they pay fines, pass background checks and learn English.
People on both sides of the contentious immigration issue will find things in the bill they don't like. But it is a reasonable attempt to craft a practical solution to one of this nation's most vexing problems.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., discussing the bill last week with the Tucson Citizen Editorial Board, said it isn't perfect, and he doesn't philosophically agree with all of it.
But it does make substantial and needed improvements in this nation's immigration policies.
This is a bill that will be argued over and tinkered with as it grinds through the political process. And while that is to be expected, the window for success is brief.
If comprehensive immigration reform is not passed by late summer, the 2008 presidential and congressional elections will muddy the waters. Elections prevented Congress from passing reform last year.
The bill to be introduced today is sponsored by Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. The two had worked with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., hoping to introduce a joint bill, before striking out on their own.
Border security is first step in process
The bill starts with tough border security that involves technology, not fences. It includes workplace enforcement so employers have a quick, secure way to check on the legality of potential employees.
Until those security measures are in place, nothing else would happen. That makes sense so other parts of the program are not built on shifting sands.
A "new worker" program would allow people to come here and work if an employer certifies that no American worker can be found.
Such a program is essential. It would greatly reduce the number of people entering the country illegally, allowing the Border Patrol to focus on criminals.
And it will make it unnecessary for desperate people seeking work to trek through the unforgiving Southwestern deserts, where hundreds die each year.
Finally, it will provide a viable work force for jobs that now go unfilled because there simply aren't enough people in the country legally to fill all of them.
The most controversial provision would allow people who entered the United States illegally before June 1, 2006, to eventually becomes U.S. citizens.
Path to citizenship would be extensive
But this is not blanket amnesty. It is a process that could take 11 years and would subject potential citizens to the most extensive review ever.
There would be $2,000 fines and in-depth background checks. Applicants would be required to pay taxes and learn English.
They also would be required to leave the country and return to the United States legally at least once during the process. They would have to stay out of the country only long enough to have papers stamped.
And they wouldn't have to return home. Mexicans living in the northeast, for example, could comply by going to Canada instead of making the trek home.
From a practical standpoint, this seems trivial. But some see it as an admission of wrongdoing. If it helps to win passage of the bill, it's a minor inconvenience.
The security of this nation is compromised by our broken immigration system. This bill would fix many of those problems. It should be seriously debated and moved through the congressional process.
READ AT TUSCON CITIZEN WEBSITE
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
CLICK HERE TO WATCH REPORT
(CNN) -- Conversations concerning modern-day immigration, legal or otherwise, tend to focus on the steady stream of immigrants from Latin America.
But restricting the discussion of immigration in the United States to one group of people from one area of the world, oversimplifies what is a much broader topic, Niall O'Dowd, chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, told CNN. "This isn't just a Hispanic problem, or an Asian problem, or any kind of problem," he said of immigration. "This isn't something to fear, but something to embrace. This is a country of immigration."
As the chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration, an organization with 28 chapters across the country, O'Dowd is looking for immigration reform to help thousands of undocumented Irish in the United States. Specifically, he said, the group wants legislation to provide work visas and a process for undocumented workers to become legal."What we want is a work-based system whereby people who are providing services, who are in a position to work hard, who are in a position to give back to this economy, can do so in a legal fashion," he said.
According to O'Dowd, there are about 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States, primarily on the East Coast, most of whom came with tourist visas and overstayed in order to work. O'Dowd's motives are largely personal. In 1979, as a 25-year-old, he left Ireland to come to the United States, and was undocumented for a time. "Once you've walked in the shoes of being undocumented, you never forget it," he said. "I think if native-born Americans knew how great their country looked, or how tremendous the opportunity looks to people who come here, they'd have a very different view of immigration," he said.
"I feel I have had my chance at the American dream, and it ... is very important to me to allow other Irish people to experience the greatest country in the world and live their version of the dream."
In addition to leading the Irish Lobby for Immigration, O'Dowd also founded Irish America Magazine and Irish Voice newspaper in New York.
READ AT CNN WEBSITE
DERRY BISHOP Dr Seamus Hegarty has launched a new website dedicated to helping the "undocumented Irish" in the United States.
The updated Irish Apostolate site - www.usairish.org - aims to provide up-to-date analysis to ensure that Irish people will have access to information on proposed legislative reforms for immigrants living in the US.
Dr. Hegarty said: "I would encourage anyone with an interest in this very important issue to sign up for our monthly newsletter available on the website. Our own Director of the Bishops' Commission for Emigrants, Fr Alan Hilliard, attended the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform organised rally in Washington DC last week. The purpose of the rally was to call for immigration reform on behalf of the 'undocumented' Irish in the United States.
"It is clear that more work is needed to ensure that the 'undocumented' receive a comprehensive reform package. We should continue to pray for such an outcome."
READ ARTICLE AT DERRY JOURNAL WEBSITE
Monday, March 19, 2007
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff March 19, 2007
Second of two parts
Last year the Irish government also created an "Irish Abroad" unit and has thrown its weight behind the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, a US-based group that is advocating passage of a bill sponsored by US senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and John McCain of Arizona that would grant amnesty for some illegal immigrants and create a system by which others could apply for legal status. The bill has the support of the Bush administration, but it is opposed by many Republicans, who have framed the immigration issue as one of law and order.
"There is a wider recognition by the government of the contribution successive waves of Irish immigrants have made both to their new homelands and to Ireland, where many sent money back to their families, and our obligation to these communities," said Austin Gormley, a spokesman for the Irish government.
Ray O'Hanlon, author of "The New Irish Americans," said that while he has no doubts the Irish government wants its native-born to return, he is less sure of how well they understand the plight of the undocumented in America.
"There are many undocumented Irish in America who have too much to lose that they won't even risk traveling back to Ireland when relatives are sick or have died, or for weddings and births," O'Hanlon said.
Throughout the 1980s and even well into the 1990s, when Ireland's unemployment rate hovered around 20 percent, successive governments did little to prevent up to 30,000 people from leaving the country each year. But now, as the Irish government acknowledges its obligations to citizens who felt forced to leave the island, politicians have had to deal with what they call "the mammy factor," mothers in Ireland whose children are living illegally in the US, demanding the government do more to assist them.
READ FULL ARTICLE AT BOSTON GLOBE WEBSITE
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff March 18, 2007
In the 1980s and 1990s, some 70,000 Irish immigrants benefited from visa programs aimed specificially at them. Named for Brian Donnelly, the former congressman from Dorchester, and Bruce Morrisson, the former congressman from Connecticut, those programs eased the crunch on thousands of Irish people living mostly in the New York and Boston areas. But there has been no ready path to legal status since then, and now Irish immigration activists are joining with other immigrant groups supporting a bipartisan bill sponsored by US senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and John McCain of Arizona that would open the possibility of legalization.
Raymond L. Flynn, who was mayor of Boston during the mid-1980s, says the community's history of assimilation, and the role of Irish immigrants to US military service, should count for something in that debate. He considers the Irish, who encountered discrimination and animosity when they arrived in Boston in the 19th century, not only a success story, but also a cautionary tale for anyone who would dismiss any new immigrant group as being unable to assimilate.
"There's much more hardship in the Irish immigrant community than there was when I was mayor," Flynn says. "There's also less of a sense that this is an Irish town. And that's because that sense of the Irish community renewing itself, over and over again, is declining."
In scores of interviews with Irish Bostonians, that sense of decline comes through clearly. Especially those caught in the legalization vise are a disillusioned, frustrated lot, whose perceptions of America in general, and Boston in particular, have changed, even as their desire to live here has not.
READ FULL ARTICLE AT THE BOSTON GLOBE WEBSITE
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Thank you for showing your support of the Irish undocumented again by wearing your Legalize the Irish shirt in the ring.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:44PM EDT
By Darren Ennis
The bipartisan bill, proposed by Democrat Ted Kennedy and Republican John McCain -- a 2008 presidential candidate -- ran into trouble last year, with many Republicans opposed to any legislation granting any form of citizenship to illegal aliens.
"It is expected, from our discussions, that the Senate will pass the bill by the middle of the year and then by the end of the year, it will get through Congress," Ahern said.
The Associated Press
Friday, March 16, 2007; 11:22 AM
WASHINGTON -- Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, at the White House to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, said Friday that he hopes the U.S. Congress will embrace President Bush's immigration proposal that would affect illegal Irish immigrants in the United States.
"The resolution of this issue would mean enormous amounts to so many Irish men and women," Ahern said of the 50,000 to 70,000 illegal Irish immigrants in the United States. "I fervently hope that they will, in the not too distant future, be able to step away from the shadows and into the sunshine of this great country."
READ FULL REPORT AT WASHINGTON POST WEBSITE
... Mr. President, each new generation of Irish arriving in this country has made is own contribution and helped assure a unique relationship.
The generation of Irish who have arrived here more recently are themselves now putting down new and deep roots and our a precious asset as we build a relationship and keep it fresh and vibrant for the future.
I want to thank you for your support for a comprehensive and balanced solution to the current challenges facing the immigration system in the United States. You've offered real leadership on this sensitive issue.
The resolution of this issue would mean an enormous amount to so many Irish men and women, and I fervently hope that they will, in the not too distant future, be able to step away from the shadows and into the sunshine of this great country.
President Bush to Prime Minister Ahern:
Americans are grateful for our country's Irish heritage, and the enduring friendship that exists between Ireland and the United States is strong.
The ties that bind our two nations stretch all the way back to our country's founding. Ireland gave us at least nine signers of the Declaration of Independence, and many more who risked their lives to defend it. Irish Americans fought valiantly to preserve the union in our Civil War.
They helped turn back the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. And they're fighting bravely in today's war on terror, risking their lives to secure a future of freedom and peace for generations to come.
Many of Ireland's sons and daughters came to our shores to escape poverty and famine. Once here, they helped us build and strengthen this great nation with their gifts of industry and talent and faith. Irish workers build our railroads, our cathedrals, and our cities. Irish writers and musicians have enriched our literature and our culture. Irish priests and nuns established parochial schools that have helped generations of children build lives of prosperity and purpose. And with their many contributions, Irish Americans remind us of our heritage as a nation of immigrants, and our duty to remain a welcoming society...
... On this St. Patrick's Day, we're grateful for the presence of the Irish in our country.
READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF REMARKS AT THE WHITEHOUSE WEBSITE
By Morton M. Kondracke
Roll Call Executive Editor
March 15, 2007
Even as they battle over Iraq and assorted scandals large and small, Republicans and Democrats owe it to themselves and the country to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year.
Republicans ought to be chastened by the losses they suffered in 2006 after adopting a harsh anti-immigrant stance and strive to get past the issue before it rips their party apart in 2008.
Democrats ought to want to demonstrate that a Congress they dominate can solve at least one big national problem. And -- short-term, at least – they'd probably benefit politically among Latino voters by passing a bill.
But the basic reason for action is that everyone agrees the immigration system is in shambles, with illegal immigrants continuing to pile across the border, with employers not able to get the legal workers they need, and with 12 million illegal immigrants living in fear of deportation and subject to exploitation.
Most everyone also agrees with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates that the U.S. needs to allow in more skilled workers -- indeed, it should be giving out green cards along with diplomas to foreign-born Ph.D.s -- and everyone ought to agree that states and localities deserve federal help in coping with the burden of illegal immigration.
This is a big, big problem that Congress and the White House would do credit to themselves to resolve -- and deserve public scorn if they cannot. It's a test of whether our current crop of politicians can get anything done.
Fortunately, a lot of behind-the-scenes action is under way in the Senate to get started on comprehensive immigration reform, but it remains to be seen whether a deal can really be cut by this summer, after which 2008 politics may make it impossible.
On one side, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has dropped his attempt to draft a new, solves-every-problem bill with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and has decided to reintroduce last year's Senate Judiciary Committee compromise measure as a starting point for debate.
He was moved to do so, aides and immigration experts say, both by the difficulty of reaching a deal with McCain on legal and wage protections for temporary workers and by a massive March 6 raid at a leather-goods factory in New Bedford, Mass., that rounded up 350 terrified workers and led to charges against their employer.
The raid, in which dozens of women were detained and unable to care for their children, caused Kennedy to decide that action on immigration reform couldn't wait.
But that raid, along with other high-profile roundups by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, also could convince wary Republicans that the executive branch finally is serious about border enforcement and employer sanctions.
On the other side, as President Bush revealed on his trip to Latin America this week, his administration is working intensively to produce a "coherent Republican position" in the Senate to take into negotiations with Kennedy.
Administration officials -- with Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in the lead -- are hoping to increase GOP support for comprehensive immigration reform from the 20 Senators currently serving who supported last year's bill to 25, a majorityof GOP Senators.
They also are trying to convince some hardliners to drop unworkable ideas such as requiring millions to return to their home countries before they can gain legal status.
Pro-immigration lobbyists say there is a chance that up to 47 Democrats could combine with 20-
plus Republicans to send a comprehensive bill to the House with a tailwind of nearly 70 votes.
But they say the danger is that, to win support from 25 Republicans, the administration may agree to restrictive provisions -- such as a ban on temporary workers ever becoming citizens -- that will drive away Democrats, causing the whole effort to collapse.
On the other side, administration officials are worried that Democrats will demand such a high level of worker protections--such as guarantees of prevailing union wage rates -- as to drive away business and GOP support.
The outlines of the basic deal are clear: truly tough border enforcement, using fences, personnel and technology; tough penalties for employers who hire illegals; and tamper-proof identification cards to identify legal workers.
The legislation also should include a temporary worker program that fills a yawning need for agricultural and low-skilled service workers, with options for such workers to become permanent residents and citizens.
It should include vastly increased special visas for skilled workers and swift opportunities for citizenship for the most highly skilled.
Also, there should be federal impact aid for communities whose schools and hospitals are burdened by illegal immigration and an earned legalization program for the 12 million people who now are here illegally, provided they pay fines and back taxes, have clean records and learn English.
Members of Congress should heed the urging of Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who said at the National Press Club last month that it is time "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."
It's worth noting that Napolitano, a Democrat and an advocate of tough enforcement and earned legalization, won re-election with 63 percent of the vote last year against an opponent who said she was "soft" on illegal immigrants.
ROLL CALL WEBSITE
A message to those who will attend tonight's fight:
Look sharp. Wear your LEGALIZE THE IRISH shirt.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Ahern hopes for reform on US immigrants
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has expressed his hope that reform of the immigration system in the United States will reach "successful finality" in the not-too-distant future.
Speaking in Washington at a lunch hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and attended by President Bush, Mr Ahern said: "This great nation has been enriched by the experience of immigration and your democracy is all the stronger for it ."
He said the resolution of the issue "would mean an enormous amount to those Irish men and women who continue to live in the shadows in this country".
"My Government is keenly aware of their ongoing plight. I hope, therefore, that your efforts at immigration reform will reach successful finality in the not too distant future."
READ THE FULL STORY AT THE IRISH TIMES WEBSITE
The Democratic Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has given a commitment to introduce bi-partisan, comprehensive immigration reform this year.
Ms Pelosi was speaking at the American Ireland Fund Dinner in Washington last night, which was also attended by the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
A new push on immigration reform is going through a difficult time in the US Congress with disagreement on some aspects of a planned bi-partisan bill in the Senate.
Last night Mr Ahern made a plea in a speech for the Irish undocumented in the US, which he put at 30,000 people.
The Taoiseach said he was 'not arguing the case for citizenship' but wanted to ensure they had freedom to travel and work.
He also pledged an endowment of €10 million to the American Ireland Fund over the next five years.
Ms Pelosi, who was honoured at last night's event, gave Mr Ahern her commitment that she would work towards introducing bi-partisan, comprehensive immigration reform this year.
READ AT THE RTE WEBSITE
Ahern: US bill for illegal Irish will be difficult
By Paul O’Brien, Political Reporter, New York
TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has conceded there will be difficulty getting a bill through the US congress that would look favourably upon the illegal Irish in the US.
A bipartisan bill proposed by Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy and Republican senator and 2008 presidential candidate John McCain ran into trouble last year, with many Republicans, in particular, opposed to any legislation that would grant citizenship to illegal aliens.
It has now emerged the two men have been unable to agree a draft of the bill, which would have offered undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship once certain conditions were met.
Yesterday, Mr Ahern met in New York with members of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, a group representing the illegal Irish. Speaking following the meeting, Mr Ahern said he would be pressing the issue with senior members of congress, including Senators Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, whom he meets today in Washington, DC.
Mr Ahern is also scheduled to raise the matter with US President George W Bush when the traditional St Patrick’s Day ceremony takes place at the White House.
“Obviously, the big issue is to try to get the legislation passed this year. It’s hugely important to a lot of Irish people, and we’re trying to see what we can do on Capitol Hill,” he said.
“There are some delays in the legislation. There are a number of reasons for that, and we’ll have to see if we can get all sides together. There’s confidence that the bill will be passed in the Senate, but around the House there are more difficulties. So I’ll use the opportunity tomorrow and Friday to try and push that on.”
Asked whether he was optimistic, he stated: “From the various discussions over the last period, we do believe we’ll get a bill passed in the Senate. There are difficulties in the House. It needs to be bipartisan.”
Meanwhile, Mr Ahern paid tribute to members of the Irish-American community who lost their lives on September 11.
Mr Ahern yesterday laid a wreath at the memorial near Ground Zero to the 343 members of the fire department who died trying to rescue those trapped in the Twin Towers.
He also visited the Twin Towers tribute centre together with New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Mr Ahern said the victims of 9/11 came from across the world.
“It was a global tragedy,” he said. “The terrible losses suffered by the emergency services that day included many Irish Americans.
“We lost so many of our Irish family that day, from the fire and police departments, and people working in the towers. Ireland is proud of their heroism.”
Mr Bloomberg paid tribute both to the fact that Mr Ahern was one of the first foreign premiers to visit New York in the wake of the attacks, and to the national day of commemoration which Ireland held in honour of those who had died.
READ THE ARTICLE AT THE IRISH EXAMINER WEBSITE HERE
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
By Dan Russo , STAFF WRITER
With St. Patrick's Day coming up this weekend, many in Delaware County make an effort this time of year to celebrate their immigrant roots.
Meanwhile, today's immigrants from Ireland and other places living among us are fighting to be heard in the national immigration debate which has pitted a strong focus on enforcement of current laws, with a push for reform.
"I've been speaking to people it's been six, seven, eight years they haven't gone home to see their families," said Brendan Byrne, [Councillor] Ireland's county Donegal when visiting Delaware County Saturday night.
He, Donegal [Councillor] Enda Bonner, and Irish Parliament Member of Parliament Pat Gallagher visited Delaware County's Irish community March 10 at the invitation of Upper Darby's Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center.
"If it were possible to legislate for the Irish alone, that would have been done, but legislation has to apply for all," Gallagher said to a crowd Saturday night. "Many young people, particularly when there's bereavements, they're going home regardless of the consequences."
About 1,000 Irish immigrants and their supporters from Pennsylvania took part in a demonstration in Washington D.C. Saturday hoping to raise awareness about the estimated 30,000 undocumented Irish living in America today. The Irish Prime Minister is also scheduled to visit the White House later this week.
"When you talk about immigration in America, you automatically assume Hispanic or Mexican," said Declan Mannion.
"There's an anti-immigrant feeling." Mannion is among an older generation of Irish immigrants. Now a U.S. Citizen, he was able to come over as part of world-wide lottery system which has now been scaled back.
It now allows a total of about 55,000 visas for dozens of countries, according to Thomas Conaghan, director of Upper Darby's Irish Center.
Temporary professional visas, and other forms of legal entry for immigrants across the board have also been cut since the 1996 Immigration Act became law, having a drastic impact on immigrants, particularly recent ones.
"Our community is withering," said Conaghan - who is now a citizen - of the Irish in America today.
"We don't want an open border. We want a legal path to immigration, particulary for undocumented people who have been here for a number of years, have families here, but are afraid to leave the country because they might not get back in."
READ THE FULL STORY HERE
07:11 Wednesday March 14th 2007
The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has said he believes good progress is being made on US moves to regularise the status of illegal immigrants, including tens of thousands of Irish citizens.
Mr Ahern was speaking in New York at the start of his annual St Patrick's Day visit to the United States.He said he had been assured by American politicians like Ted Kennedy that more progress is expected be made in the coming year.
Today, the Taoiseach is due to meet Irish emigrant groups who have been lobbying for reforms to grant residency rights to the estimated 50,000 Irish people living illegally in the US.
Donegal residents are celebrating St. Patrick's Day this year by planning several buses to Dublin to attend the April 14th Rally for the Family and Friends of the undocumented Irish in America.
It is up to you to get things going in your home County.
Support the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. Legalize the Irish!
Many thanks to Micheal McMahan for the photograph.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is in New York today as part of a four-day St Patrick's week visit to the United States during which he will present the traditional bowl of shamrock to President George Bush at the White House.
Mr Ahern is due to attend a number of functions in New York today before travelling to Washington DC in the evening. He will return home on Friday evening and will be in Dublin for St Patrick's Day.
The Taoiseach's programme begins this morning with a breakfast involving representatives of the financial services sector in New York and afterwards he will attend a meeting with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.
Later in the morning he will meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and will then visit the Ground Zero memorial in lower Manhattan.
Mr Ahern will then address the Council on Foreign Relations about the position in Northern Ireland and will then do a television interview.
The Taoiseach and his entourage will then travel to Washington DC tomorrow evening, where he will attend the American-Ireland Fund National Gala.
Tomorrow, Mr Ahern will have a series of meetings on Capitol Hill, including talks with Ms Clinton, Senator Edward Kennedy and the Friends of Ireland Group in Congress.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, will host a lunch for Mr Ahern on Capitol Hill and it will also be attended by Mr Bush. After a further series of meetings in the afternoon the Taoiseach will attend a St Patrick's Day reception at the Irish Embassy.
The presentation of the bowl of shamrock to Mr Bush will take place in the White House on Friday morning.
READ FULL ARTICLE AT IRISH TIMES WEBSITE
WASHINGTON — President Bush says he wants an immigration bill this year. So do the top Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. Other supporters range from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Service Employees International Union.
Seldom has legislation received such high-profile backers from across such a broad ideological spectrum. And seldom has legislation with such powerful backing faced such an uphill battle.
Those efforts hit a bump in the road this week when a bipartisan group working to draft a bill — Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. and John McCain, R-Ariz., and Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. — postponed efforts to reach a deal.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
excerpt from New York Times: Kennedy, Eager for Republican Support, Shifts Tactics on Immigration Measure:
WASHINGTON, March 12 — Facing a rebellion from some crucial Republicans, Senator Edward M. Kennedy has abandoned efforts to produce a new immigration bill and is proposing using legislation produced last March by the Senate Judiciary Committee, then controlled by Republicans, as the starting point for negotiations this year, lawmakers said Monday.
Mr. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who is a principal architect of immigration legislation in the Senate, now controlled by Democrats, said he was shifting gears in hopes of winning Republican support and speeding the passage of immigration legislation this spring. Four of 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted last year for the committee’s bill, which would tighten border security, create a temporary worker program and legalize illegal immigrants.
President Bush said Monday in Guatemala that he hoped to see an immigration bill completed by the fall and that he was working with Republicans to define a position most could support. “If we don’t have enough consensus,” Mr. Bush said, “nothing is going to move out of the Senate.”
Mr. Kennedy and a Republican colleague, Senator John McCain of Arizona, had spent several months trying to produce a new immigration bill that was expected to be introduced this month. But several Republicans protested that they had been shut out of the negotiations. They began drafting their own bill, led by Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Republican moderate who led the debate on immigration in the Judiciary Committee last year.
Meanwhile, Mr. McCain, who led Republican lawmakers in championing immigration legislation last year, has appeared to be backing away from that role, several Congressional aides said.
Conservatives have sharply criticized Mr. McCain, a leading Republican presidential candidate, for supporting efforts to put illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.
Senior aides in both parties said Mr. McCain told several colleagues last week that he was stepping away from the bill because he was troubled by labor provisions it included. Eileen McMenamin, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, disputed that assertion, saying he “remains committed to passing a comprehensive immigration bill.”
Mr. Kennedy said that he hoped Mr. McCain would continue to be deeply involved in the push for immigration legislation but that he would “certainly understand” if he could not be, given the demands of the presidential campaign.
“We will value as much time and effort and energy as he can put into this,” Mr. Kennedy said in an interview. “I recognize that he’s a presidential candidate and that’s going to take a big part of his time.”
Mr. Kennedy dismissed the notion that his efforts to produce a new immigration bill had failed. He said he had decided that the committee report was “the best starting point” because it had bipartisan support and because it would allow lawmakers to move swiftly toward passage, with a vote as early as May.
“We’ve had extensive hearings on the essential aspects of this bill,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We are effectively ready for markup and going to the floor.”
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
By Gail Russell Chaddock Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON - After weeks of closed-door negotiations, lawmakers say they are close to unveiling a plan for comprehensive immigration reform. Unlike last year, when the House and Senate passed vastly different bills, comparable bills are likely to emerge on both sides of the Capitol, including a guest-worker program and a path to "earned citizenship" for some 12 million people in the US illegally.
But lawmakers and aides working the issue say they will need at least 20 Republican votes in the Senate and from 40 to 80 in the House to move legislation this year. Before facing a floor fight, they want to be sure that they have crafted a deal broad enough to secure them.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE.
By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist March 11, 2007
THE LAW was enforced. For some, that alone justifies the outcome of the raid on a New Bedford company that knowingly hired illegal immigrants. The workers were rounded up and some were sent to Texas.
I say, current immigration law is an embarrassment to a country founded by immigrants. It is arbitrary, absurd, at times cruel and completely disconnected from the reality of immigrant labor in America. The law should be changed, but too many politicians in Washington lack the spine to change it.
Federal immigration authorities raided Michael Bianco Inc., a New Bedford manufacturer of luxury leather goods for companies like Coach Inc. The company also manufactures military backpacks, making it the beneficiary of an $82 million federal contract. Company owners were arrested, but allowed to go free until their next court date.
Meanwhile, 361 workers, most of them young and middle-aged Latino women, were detained. Some were flown to a Texas detention center, forced to leave behind children in Massachusetts.
Some were returned to Massachusetts for humanitarian reasons.
Tell me again how that result makes this country safer and stronger? It doesn't, unless some link between these workers and terrorists comes to light.
Sending home 12 million illegal immigrants is impossible. The reality is that illegal immigrants provide cheap labor for a wide range of businesses. As for taking jobs from Americans, White House adviser Karl Rove recently put that fear in perspective: "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas," he said.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts are expected to refile an immigration reform bill, perhaps this week. It will attempt to balance border surveillance and workplace enforcement with a plan to give millions of illegal immigrants a chance to work here legally. President Bush supports immigration reform, although he is hedging on whether people who come to the United States illegally should have a path to so-called amnesty.
The status quo is not a solution.
READ THE FULL BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL HERE
By Frank Davies
San Jose Mercury News
Article Launched: 03/12/2007 01:36:57 AM PDT
WASHINGTON - After years of debate and deadlock, Congress seems to have all the ingredients this year to revamp a broken immigration system and devise a way to handle up to 12 million undocumented immigrants while tightening border security.
Advocates of reform can point to new Democratic leaders who have promised action, the support of President Bush, the failure of hard-line anti-immigration appeals in the past election, and a large coalition of business, labor, church and rights groups ready to turn up the pressure again.
"This is a rare time when the politics are right for both parties to act," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the San Jose Democrat who chairs the House immigration subcommittee. "The expectation is that Democrats, in power, will get something done, and we have to do that. And if most Republicans block this again, they will put themselves in political peril."
But don't expect a comprehensive immigration bill to be on Bush's desk soon. Formidable obstacles remain, including the emotional, unpredictable nature of immigration politics and the pressure of an early presidential campaign.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Thanks to the organizers for their support of the undocumented Irish in America.
To read more about the Atlantic City parade click HERE.
Thank you, Mickey, for supporting the undocumented Irish in America.