McCain/Kennedy bill may get St. Patrick's unveiling
By Ray O'Hanlon
The rebirth of the McCain/Kennedy immigration reform bill on Capitol Hill looks this week as if it will coincide with St. Patrick's festivities in Washington next week.
And the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform is rallying in Washington today in an effort to spur legislators into action on an issue seen as central to the future of the Irish community in the United States.
"It's looking more like next week. We're going full steam ahead," a spokeswoman for Senator Edward Kennedy told the Echo.
Meanwhile, Senator John McCain, Republican co-author of the Senate bill alongside Democrat Kennedy, told Irish American reporters in New York last week that the next few months would provide a "window of opportunity" for comprehensive immigration reform but if the opportunity was missed it would be 2009 before the issue would likely be addressed again.
McCain, speaking before a Manhattan reception organized by the Irish American Republicans lobby group, said he gave McCain/Kennedy better than a fifty/fifty chance of success.
His assessment, whether by accident or design, touches on the number of votes needed for the bill success in the 100-member Senate. Sixty votes are needed to avoid a possible filibuster.
Given that a small group of Democrats, three or four at the most, are possibly lined up to oppose
McCain/Kennedy, McCain will have to pull at least thirteen of his GOP colleagues into the 'yes' column when it comes to a vote.
That vote will focus on a bill that the Senate passed last year but which ultimately died because it was up against a GOP House bill that focused entirely on border security, the building of a 700 mile fence along the frontier with Mexico and took issue with McCain/Kennedy's plan to allow a path to earned legalization for millions of undocumented and illegal immigrants, many thousands of Irish among them.
The new McCain/Kennedy bill is expected to preserve the border fence plan and other proposals to curb illegal immigration in the future.
But crucially it will again include provision that will set out a path to earned legislation, this in addition to an allotment of guest worker visas, an idea that is particularly supported by President Bush.
"This is a complex issue and demands a comprehensive approach. I don't expect it to be easy sledding," Kennedy was reported as saying in the Boston Globe.
Hoping to smooth the path a little today will be several thousand ILIR supporters who are reprising two previous expeditions to the nation's capital in support of reform.
As was the case last summer and spring, ILIR will be meeting with Capitol Hill legislators before staging a rally that will be addressed by Senate and House members supportive of comprehensive reform.
The rally venue was changed late last week in anticipation of an even bigger turnout by ILIR members, according to ILIR's Kelly Fincham.
It will take place at the Washington Court Hotel on New Jersey Avenue, just a block down from the Holiday Inn on the Hill as originally planned.
ILIR's lobby day, and the arrival in Washington next week of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for the annual shamrock presentation to President Bush, will serve to remind legislators that the undocumented Irish in the U.S. are anxiously awaiting a significant change in immigration law before year's end.
This story appeared in the issue of March 7 -13, 2007
for a link to the full article click HERE.