by Jennifer Ludden
All Things Considered,
March 7, 2007 · Several thousand Irish immigrants fan out across Capitol Hill, shaking up the stereotype of the illegal immigrant and lobbying for legalization. The demonstrators say they've come to America for opportunity and adventure — the same reasons as their ancestors. The difference, they say, lies in the current system.
After traveling from across the country for Wednesday's rally, the advocates received green and white T-shirts inscribed with the request "Legalize the Irish," along with small American flags.
Angela Kelley, of the National Immigration Forum, says the small group of Irish undocumented does point to a big issue: Fixing the immigration system isn't just about securing the border.
"Forty percent of the undocumented in this country came in legally," Kelly says. "They came in with visas, as students, as tourists, as businessmen. And they overstayed those visas."
Supporters say that's why a sweeping immigration overhaul is needed. A Senate proposal is expected soon, sponsored by John McCain and Edward Kennedy — perhaps the most famous great-great-grandson of Irish immigrants.
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