Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting on with it...

The response to the question below was phenomenal. I couldn't post all the comments because of some of the ahem, "language", but we received close to 100 and 91 of those were from people who said they were staying. The one I liked best just said "No (expletive deleted) Surrender"!

One guy wrote in to say that he was not giving up until he was forced out. He said he employed nine workers and had been paying all his taxes and his employees' taxes for over 10 years in the hope that doing the right thing could help him adjust his status. He also spoke about how he had to put his seven year old son on a plane on his own last summer so the grandparents could see their American grandson.

This man, and the thousands of other undocumented Irish here, could be the last remnant of that strange animal called Irish America. If they give up on America, then Ireland may as well give up its idea of a "special relationship" with America.


Anonymous said...

Battle for undocumented Irish will continue, says Galway priest

by Avril Horan

A County Galway priest has said the failure to get the go ahead for the immigration reform bill in the US has come as a huge shock to the thousands of Galway people living in the States.

Fr Gerry Burns, Catholic Curate in Athenry, has worked in parishes in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Despite the disappointment, Fr Burns said the campaign to secure the status of the undocumented Irish will continue.

Last month, the United States Senate voted against the bill, which would have given thousands of undocumented Irish a path to citizenship. The bill was backed by President George W Bush but was defeated by 53 to 46.

"It's a huge shock," said Fr Gerry Burns. "There are a lot of people, originally from Galway, who are waiting a long time for something to happen.

"It's all about freedom to travel. I have met people who have been in the US for over 25 years, but were never lucky enough to get a visa.

"They have their own homes, businesses, their children are in school - this decision is going to be very tough for them. They know of many people who have returned to Ireland, but who can't settle back into the Irish way of life.

"They are taking a huge risk if they leave the country and are unable to return," he said.

Niall O'Dowd, Chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), said the Senate decision was "devastating".

However, in a statement, he said they are "heartened" by the response from the Irish government to the current situation and they have pledged to continue to fight for the undocumented Irish in the US.

Orla Kelleher, Director of the Aisling Irish Community Centre in Yonkers, New York agreed that the "battle for the Irish will continue".

She said the best option is a reciprocal visa arrangement between Ireland and the US - similar to the Australian visa programme currently in operation.

However, it's likely there will be no further progression on the immigration bill until after the election in November 2008. For many people, it's too late.

"There's widespread disappointment the bill reform fell through," explained Ms Kelleher.

"People are having to make the tough decision whether to hang on or go back to Ireland.

"I know many who have had to leave with a heavy heart because they felt they had no other choice," she said.

Those living in the US without a visa encounter many difficulties. In particular, they can't apply for a driver's license and can't leave the country, without the fear of being stopped, when they try to re-enter. Security measures have tightened considerably since the 9/11 attacks.

"People are sick of having the noose around their neck of not being able to return home," explained Ms Kelleher.

"A lot of people, originally from Galway city and county, had to make the difficult choice not to return home for the funeral of a parent, brother or sister.

"They can't return home for a holiday without the fear of being stopped. If their parents are elderly, they may not be able to fly to the US.

"A lot of people have left their life in the States behind because they are desperate to see their families," she said.

Ms Kelleher said it's "almost impossible" to become a US citizen and even a working visa does not guarantee a safe trip back to the country.

"I recently spoke to a man who received a working visa and thought it was a lifeline," she said.

"He went home to Ireland for a match but was stopped at Shannon Airport."

And she said her cousin is distraught after making the tough decision to return home.

"My cousin is going back to Ireland at the end of the month," said Ms Kelleher.

"She wants to settle down and have a family and feels she has no future in the US. There are just too many restrictions.

"Everyone is entitled to freedom to travel," she said.

Anonymous said...

Cameras roll on immigration debate
By Lisa Kocian, Globe Staff | July 8, 2007

Marcilio Filho is a Brazilian immigrant, in the country illegally, who works three jobs to support his family. Patrick O'Brien, also a husband and father, is a landscaper who is losing customers to Filho, who can charge less because he doesn't pay taxes.

These two fictional characters clash in Hopkinton resident Karen Webb's "Green Grass," which won second prize for short screenplays in the 2007 Vail Film Festival Screenwriting Competition.

Filming of "Green Grass" in Framingham and Hopkinton is scheduled to wrap this week, and Webb, 42, said she plans to submit the film to the Sundance Film Festival and other national and international competitions in the hope it will get picked up for distribution.

The story hits close to home for some of the cast and crew.

"I'm a resident here, but I feel discrimination," said Lucas Constante, a Brazilian immigrant who plays Filho in the film.

Like his character, Constante came to the United States to "look for a better life" and he also works long hours (in his case at a sign-making company) to help his family back in Brazil.

"I love this story. It's very real in my opinion," he said between takes last Saturday in Webb's Hopkinton neighborhood. "It tries to show both sides."

The screenplay also is personal for Webb's co producer Dawn Morrissey, a Waltham resident who is an immigrant from Ireland.

Years ago her first US job was on Martha's Vineyard, where she worked alongside Brazilian, Mexican, and other Irish immigrants, she said.

Although Morrissey, 38, has a green card, many of her friends don't, and over the years they have encountered all kinds of problems as a result -- worrying about health coverage if they got hurt on the job, for example, she said. So the script immediately grabbed her.

"I could see the fact we could easily market this to the festivals because it's such a hot-button topic," said Morrissey, who helps run the Magners Irish Film Festival (formerly the Boston Irish Film Festival).

Webb's neighborhood, with large houses overlooking meticulously landscaped yards, is exactly the type of place where a drama like the one she has written would play out, which she freely acknowledges.

"It was kind of the inspiration for the story," she said. "I was in my living room with the big picture windows open watching the lawn being mowed with my laptop in front of me."

The film has a budget of about $18,000. The cast and crew, even those from the Screen Actors Guild, are largely deferring payment until the film finds some success. A significant chunk of the money, $5,000, came from an "anonymous venture capitalist," said Webb.

Excitement over the film was palpable throughout the cast and crew Saturday. Sprawled out on the manicured lawn of one of Webb's neighbors, the crew and a growing crowd of spectators watched a scene where Filho is arrested after a traffic accident for driving without a license.

A couple of Webb's neighbors drank white wine out of plastic tumblers, a production assistant helped Webb's 8-year-old daughter perfect her handstands, and everyone passed around bug spray as the mosquitoes came out. A 30-foot "jimmy jib" -- a crane with a camera attached -- hovered, dipping in and out of the scene.

Two Hopkinton police officers played officers in the arrest scene. One of them, Tim Brennan, consulted with Jeff Craddock, the director, on what language he would really use in such a situation. Later, he said he sees fake licenses all the time and theorizes that "someone in Framingham is making a lot of money." Framingham is home to a large Brazilian immigrant population.

Despite the seriousness of the theme, Brennan was clearly having fun with his 15 minutes of fame.

"This could be my big break," he said. "I don't want to mess up my line. This could get me out of polyester."

During last Sunday's shooting, the cast and crew got to see firsthand what the immigration debate looks like. Jim and Joe Rizoli, twin brothers who have been the most visible and vocal opponents to illegal immigration in Framingham, tried to videotape part of the shoot outside a Brazilian bakery there.

Webb said it was distracting, and they never asked permission, so a crew member asked the Rizolis to stop videotaping.

Jim Rizoli said he objected to how the protesters were being portrayed in the film, holding signs like "Brazilians Go Home. This is Our Country."

"We would never, ever attack the Brazilians personally," he said. "We might say 'Illegal Aliens Get out of Town' or whatever."

He said he was concerned that protesters like him were going to be portrayed as too militant or as vigilantes.

Webb called their tactics "heavy-handed," referring to videotapes they post online of local Brazilian immigrants. She said she hopes her film can show both sides of the debate.

"We wanted people to see the human side of the immigration issue instead of just the politics," she said.

For more information about the film, go to

Lisa Kocian can be reached at 508-820-4231 or by e-mail at

Dreamie said...

Hi everyone,I was wondering if for the next week or so you can help us out with Dream act calls.

The principal sponsor Senator Durbin is making a major effort in order to attach it to the Defense authorization bill in the Senate this coming week due to the military option within the legislation.

Alipac & most likely Numbersusa will be launching an effort to derail our effort on attaching the legislation & we need all the help we can get.You can get all the necessary information about our call campaign here.

Thank you for your time.