Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Life on Immigration Bill?

The Hill newspaper is reporting that Senator Arlen Specter is on the verge of reviving the immigration debate with a new bill. There are only two stories out there about this. One at The Hill and one at UPI. I'll post more when more information becomes available.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Blight On Reason; ILIR Volunteers in spotlight

A blight on reason

They got the news yesterday, as they stood in a government building named for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, whose portrait hung in their childhood homes back in County Cork.

Paul and Jenny Ladd were told they must leave the United States by Nov. 23, the day after the 44th anniversary of Jack Kennedy's assassination. If Kennedy's 1960 election stands as some high-water mark for this country, proof that an Irish Catholic could be as loyal to the United States as anyone else, then the deportation of Paul and Jenny Ladd surely signals something almost as significant, if entirely less encouraging.

When they landed at Logan Airport 12 years ago, with $250 between them, the first thing the Ladds did was find jobs. Paul had one by nightfall, roofing. Days later, Jenny was painting houses.

The second thing they did was try to legalize their residency status. They couldn't. Call them naïve, but they actually believed that if you worked hard, paid your taxes, and kept your nose clean, eventually you would be embraced as an American. There were two centuries of experience that this approach worked, especially for the Irish, especially here.

For those who say they cut the line, get real. There is no line. The immigration system is broken, and there is neither the political consensus nor courage to fix it. But it is utterly delusional to think that deporting Paul and Jenny Ladd will make this country any safer or better off.

The same government that wouldn't give the Ladds a way to get legal gladly handed them tax identification numbers. But Paul Ladd couldn't renew his driver's license last year, and when his truck was stopped on a routine commercial vehicle check, he and Jenny entered a system that no longer winks at people with freckles and brogues.

Paul Ladd never played the Irish card. He didn't want any special treatment because he looks like half the guys in Marshfield.

"I'm no better than anyone else," he said. "I work. I pay my taxes. I don't bother anyone."

He volunteered to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform, for everyone. He took a bus to Washington, D.C. He looked at the monuments, read the inscriptions, was more inspired than ever to become a legal American. But the immigration bill crashed and burned in the Senate last month, just weeks after it was unveiled with much hoopla.

Now the only chance for the Ladds is to cut a one-shot deal for themselves. Their congressman, Representative Stephen F. Lynch, has asked the House subcommittee on immigration, citizenship, refugees, border security and international law to file a private bill, allowing the Ladds to stay. Their lawyer, Chris Lavery, says it's a long shot, but it's their only shot. US Immigration Judge Eliza C. Klein said she would consider reopening their case if the bill goes forward.

The Ladds are almost embarrassed that they have to make a case just for themselves.

"I'll do it because I love this country and I want to stay here," Jenny Ladd said, standing outside the Kennedy building.

Paul sold his Chevy 5500 work truck, along with the roofing company that he built from scratch. The Ladds sold their house in Norwood; the closing is tomorrow.

The last year has been an emotional roller coaster. The Ladds, who only two months ago thought immigration reform was at hand, are now part of an unprecedented exodus back to Ireland, the reverse of what happened when the potato blight of the 1840s made Boston the most Irish city in America.

Paul Ladd, a bear of a man, is perpetually upbeat, quick with a joke. But this long goodbye, disengaging from work and the life they made here, has worn him down.

"I don't like being idle," he said. "When you're working, you don't have time to dwell on all that can go wrong."

He looked over at City Hall Plaza, as people with coffee cups hurried to work.

"I don't like dwelling, either," Paul Ladd said.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

© Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Good News on Immigration Front

The collapse of the Senate Immigration Bill fuelled fears that the know-nothing antics of the anti-immigrant mob would create more harassment at a local level. But this week saw two significant victories in favor of undocumented immigrants and common sense.

On July 25, the Connecticut city of New Haven became the first city in the nation to introduce ID cards for undocumented immigrants; allowing access to bank accounts, library services etc.
In New York, City Council member Hiram Monserratte wants to do the same for immigrants in the city. (Hear more at

And on July 26, a federal judge in Scranton, PA, ruled against the City of Hazleton in a landmark challenge (Lozano v. City of Hazleton) to local ordinances aimed at punishing landlords, employers, and people perceived to be immigrants.

In a opinion, federal judge James Munley ruled that federal law "prohibits Hazleton from enforcing any of the provisions of its ordinances," which impose a $1,000-per-day fine on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, revoke the business license of any employer who hires them, declare English as the official language and bar city employees from translating documents to another language without approval. (Washington Post)
According to the Hazelton police, over the past seven years undocumented immigrants were involved in only one-quarter of one percent of felonies in Hazleton. That's just 20 out of 8,575. It's clearly irresponsible and unfair to blame hardworking families and entire communities for crimes that they did not commit.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Irish Need DREAM Act Too

Wow. That's all I can say after reading some of the nasty pig-headed racist comments that were left on the blog regarding our support for the DREAM Act. It's almost as if this coalition of people is going to fall apart because the big bill fell apart. You know what? I'm here 12 years with no visa and I'm just as stuck as everyone else. But for f**ks sake, there's hundreds of Irish kids out there who are going to benefit from DREAM if it gets past. What's the problem? Are we really going to throw all of our toys out of the pram??Enough already. And as for the gurriers who keep whining about not getting their comments posted. GET YOUR OWN BLOG.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Help us Keep The DREAM Alive

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has announced that he, Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) will introduce the DREAM Act as an amendment to H.R. 1585, the Department of Defense authorization bill, which is now being debated in the Senate.

The amendment will need 60 votes to pass. Its adoption would be a giant step forward for the DREAM Act, which would then stand an excellent chance of becoming law this year.

The provisions of the DREAM Act amendment are expected to be word for word identical to S. 774, the bill that Senators Durbin, Hagel, and Lugar introduced earlier this Spring. It would provide a 6-year path to permanent residence and eventual citizenship for individuals brought to the U.S. years ago as undocumented children if they graduate from high school and continue on to college or military service.

We do not yet know when the vote will be, and it is possible that procedural obstacles could prevent one from occurring at all. But regardless, it is imperative for all DREAM Act supporters to call your Senators and click here to send an e-mail message to them today, and again tomorrow, and again every day until the vote occurs. You can find your Senators' phone numbers here.

We expect anti-immigrant groups to spread falsehoods about the DREAM Act and to try to inflame their base to intimidate Senators like they did in the recent Senate debate about immigration reform. But DREAM Act supporters are passionate too. We can and must fight back and match their intensity.



Your Senators' phone numbers are online at:

To send an e-mail message to your Senators please go to:

What else you can do:

  • Forward this message to every listserv and everyone you know
  • Post it on blogs, MySpace, Facebook, or other on-line networking tools
  • Call in to C-SPAN or other radio or television shows where there is some hope of a sympathetic audience (not anti-immigrant propaganda sites)

The DREAM Act in Brief:

The DREAM Act is narrowly tailored

It would apply only to individuals brought to the U.S. at least 5 years ago as children, who have grown up here, and who have remained in school and out of trouble. They could get a green card 6 years after graduating from high school if during that time they continue on to college or serve in the military.

The DREAM Act is not a "mini-amnesty"

At its core, amnesty is forgiveness for wrongdoing. That does not apply to DREAM Act students who were all brought here years ago as children. The DREAM Act rewards them for staying in school or serving our country.

The DREAM Act would benefit taxpayers

The DREAM Act would provide hope to immigrant students and lead many more of them to remain in school. As an example of the fiscal benefits of this, a RAND study showed that a 30-year-old Mexican immigrant woman who graduates from college will pay $5,300 more in taxes and cost $3,900 less in government expenses each year than if she had dropped out of high school. This amounts to an annual fiscal benefit of over $9,000 per person every year, money that can be used to pay for the education of other children. State and local taxpayers have already invested in the education of these children in elementary and secondary school and deserve to get a return on their investment

You can find more information about the DREAM Act here.

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.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Stay or go? What do you think?

I've been inundated all weekend with calls from people here who want to stay and fight for a fair resolution. I've heard from people who've been here as long as 20 years who are still not giving up on America. Yeah, some people are saying they're moving out, but most of them are talking about going to England or Australia, no-one's talking about going back to Ireland.

Interestingly, it turns out more than 12,000 people a year are going to Australia from Ireland on the working holiday visa. Wow. That's solid proof that Irish people are still leaving Ireland. They're just not coming here.

What do YOU think? Is it time to give up on America? Or is it time to redouble our efforts? If you're undocumented, please let me know what you plan on doing.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

We're not going away! We're staying to fight this battle!

The Irish in the US are a fixture. It has always been that way, and looks like it always will. For all the Irish people who have made the massive decision to leave Ireland over the centuries, to leave family and friends and a country they love, it has never been a decision they made lightly. And it is also not a decision that makes them any less Irish.

The number of people in the US that consider themselves Irish Americans is just astounding – 40 million people in the last US census proudly listed their Irish ancestry. These are the people who travel to Ireland to visit family and friends, to find their ancestors and understand where they came from. These are the people with amazing social and economic ties to Ireland.

To list all the Irish who have "made it" in the US, who have achieved the American Dream, as they say, and have made the difference, would take forever! But just scan the names of previous US Presidents, of current Senators and Representative, local politician's, business people - lots of proud Irish names on all those lists.

However, somewhere along the way, the number of US visas issued to the Irish has dwindled to an ridiculously low number. In 2005 in the Diversity visa program, out of the 48,151 issues to the entire world, Ireland received 76! Or if you look at the US visas issued to the entire world that same year, 1,122,373 visas in total, the Irish allocation was 2,088! That includes marriage, work and Diversity visas - the only 3 options open to the Irish these days.

For the current generation of young Irish people who find themselves caught in the twilight zone of being undocumented in their adopted home, the magnetism that got them here (and the millions before them) doesn't just disappear! We understand that we can, with hard work and determination, do anything in the US. That's why we're here.

We aren't going to hide and keep quiet. We've never done that! We are going to do what the Irish have always done, we are going to ignore the IRISH NEED NOT APPLY signs and
stay and fight this battle. We've always given the US our best shot and we're not going to give up now!

From the Papers: Immigration Reform and the US

Strong borders are necessary to protect us from those who would harm us, but what will become of the people who have already risked death and imprisonment just to be able to work for a living here? How does it benefit us to deny them citizenship? Granting them citizenship would, with the stroke of a pen, both require them to pay taxes and require their employers to account for them, thereby canceling out the two chief complaints against them: that they drain our public services and that their employment undermines our economy. Read More

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Man Accused Of Bilking Immigrants Stays In Jail

Courant Staff Writer

July 3, 2007


A Superior Court judge kept bail at $3.5 million Monday for the Branford man accused of bilking illegal immigrants out of more than $500,000 under the guise that he worked at the Yale Law School.

Ralph Cucciniello made his first appearance in a Connecticut court. By the time he appears on July 17, Cucciniello may be facing more charges. Investigators say they have identified more than 110 victims.

In seeking to keep the bail at $3.5 million, prosecutor Brian Leslie informed Judge Richard Damiani that the state isn't done investigating Cucciniello.

"These are very serious charges and additional charges are likely to be filed in this case," Leslie said.

Cucciniello was arrested late last week in Warwick, R.I., on an arrest warrant charging him with 59 counts of larceny.

Damiani signed the warrant after investigators from New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington's office got word that Cucciniello was living in a hotel near the airport in Rhode Island. The judge dismissed a recommendation from the bail commissioner and a public defender appointed for Monday's court appearance to lower the bond to $100,000.

Investigators do not know why Cucciniello left his Branford home, where he had lived for more than three years, and moved into a Marriott Residence Inn off I-95 in Warwick. He had been living there for at least a few weeks, giving him ample time to disappear if that's what he intended to do, law enforcement sources said.

Cucciniello was arrested Thursday night by Warwick police. He was wearing a light blue Yale T-shirt when detectives knocked on his hotel door and told him they had a warrant for his arrest.

Cucciniello waived his extradition rights during a brief appearance in a Rhode Island court Friday and was brought back to Connecticut early Monday.

He was wearing a Rhode Island prison-issued blue T-shirt with his hands handcuffed behind his back when he was led into the Elm Street courthouse with the 24 other people from the New Haven area arrested and held over the weekend.

Cucciniello, 55, did not speak during his brief court appearance. He was shuffled back to lockup by a marshal. The case was transferred to the courthouse which handles serious crimes. The arrest warrant in the case remained sealed.

Authorities say it was through his affiliation with the prestigious Yale University Law School that Cucciniello convinced possibly hundreds of illegal aliens, mostly Irish, that he had found a loophole in the immigration laws and could obtain green cards - proof of permanent residency - if they gave him $5,000.

Cucciniello claimed he was a professor working on a program to recruit illegal immigrants that was authorized by the dean of the law school. Many of the illegal immigrants brought the cash into the law school and handed it to Cucciniello as he sat at a desk in what he said was his office, police charge.

The charges include two counts of first-degree larceny, 57 counts of second-degree larceny and one count of violating the state racketeering act. In one of the larceny cases he is accused of bilking more than $100,000 from a Long Island couple.

Cucciniello had a Yale identification card and an e-mail address through the law school. Cucciniello gained access to the school through his affiliation with Prof. Steven B. Duke, who had worked on the case of New Jersey mobster Martin Taccetta, an acquaintance of Cucciniello.

Contact Dave Altimari at

Copyright © 2007, The Hartford Courant

Cardinal Mahony reacts to Congressional failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform

Death of a bill: Senators kill legislation to reform U.S. immigration system

By Kaitlynn Riely
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The day after Hispanic congressmen gathered with priests and Hispanic families to pray that wisdom be granted to members of the Senate, a bipartisan bill to reform immigration failed to garner the votes needed to move into voting on the issue.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a member of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, led a news conference on the terrace of the Cannon House Office Building on the morning of June 27. He said the purpose of the assembly was "so that together with our prayers we can enlighten the Senate of the United States and encourage people to have the courage to do what is right and what is correct."

Gutierrez and Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., along with religious leaders, spoke in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, a topic Gutierrez called a "moral issue."

But June 28 the Senate, after weeks of debate, failed to pass a bill that would have established a path toward citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States while strengthening border security. The vote to limit debate and proceed to a vote on the bill was 14 votes short of the 60 it needed, with a vote of 46-53 in favor of limiting the debate.

Catholic reaction to the failed attempt to pass the immigration bill has been largely negative.

Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, Calif., issued a statement June 29 as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, saying the bishops were troubled by the failure to reform the immigration system. He called the current state of the system "morally unacceptable."

"The U.S. bishops shall continue to point out the moral deficiencies in the immigration system and work toward justice until it is achieved," he said.

Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, called the Senate's inability to agree on comprehensive immigration reform a "monumental failure for our country." He lamented the unchanged fate of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants who live in fear of deportation.

"Today's action to give up on the bill leaves in place the status quo – a deeply flawed, untenable and much-criticized immigration system that is (in) desperate need of reform," Father Snyder said in a statement.

Opponents of the bill, mostly Republicans, refused to approve the legislation because they said strengthening border security should be a prerequisite to expediting the legalization of millions of immigrants.

Speakers at the Hispanic caucus' news conference argued that the immigration system, as it currently exists, damages immigrant families. An immigration system that splits up families is wrong, Gutierrez said.

"Our families are the cornerstone of society," he said.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles also issued a statement about the failed bill, which he said would have affirmed human dignity for immigrants. He echoed the message of those at the news conference, saying that the current system contributes to the separation of families.

"Every day that this status quo is permitted to exist is a moral failure for our nation, as well as a legislative one," he said.

Although most analysts predict that the issue of immigration reform will not come to a vote again until after the 2008 elections, Father Snyder encouraged Congress to rise above partisan politics to deliver a solution this year.

Cardinal Mahony acknowledged it is unlikely that the Senate will take up the immigration topic again in the next few months but said the Catholic Church would remain active in supporting effective immigration reform legislation.

Gutierrez expressed confidence that religious communities would play the role of advocate for immigrants on social justice issues as they have done in the past -- such as for civil rights for African-Americans in the 1960s. And the government should listen, he said, because it has a responsibility to protect immigrants.

"We will stand up in every church across this country to say that our government has a responsibility to defend the most vulnerable of our society," Gutierrez said. "And the most vulnerable of our society today is our immigrant community -- our undocumented community."

At the caucus' news conference, speakers refuted the idea that illegal immigration is limited to the U.S.-Mexican border. Many of them interspersed their English with Spanish, but stressed that the immigration debate is not just a Hispanic issue, but rather an issue that affects all Americans.

"Immigration is not just a Hispanic issue, or an Irish issue. It isn't just an African issue; it isn't just an Asian issue," Baca said. "It isn't an issue specific to one group of people nor is it an issue specific to any one place. It's not just about security issues, agricultural issues, business issues -- it's America's issue."

Irish-born Father Brendan McBride, coordinator of the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center in San Francisco, and Father Michael Leonard of the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support Center, who is also a native of Ireland, told the mostly Hispanic group that – as Irish Catholics – they could empathize with the experience of prejudice and exclusion.

"We understand the hurt of not being able to travel back for a funeral, of not being able to travel home for a wedding," Father McBride said. He said the Catholic community would keep the fight for comprehensive immigration reform alive.

Before the measure died in the Senate, Gutierrez had expressed confidence that the immigration bill would proceed to the House, but warned Republicans that the patience of the immigrant community was running out. The members of the immigrant community, he said, are not "hordes of people that have come here to destroy our American way of life," as he said some people claim.

"We are hardworking people that want an opportunity to contribute even better to America," Gutierrez said.

Catholic News

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Legalize the Irish!

I have to say, I'm glad theres only a hour left in this week - its been roller coaster, to say the least.

But tomorrow morning is truly the beginning of the next phase of our campaign. Over the last 18 months, we have collectively learned so much, we've achieved so much and we have educated so many people along the way, who never even knew there was such a thing as an undocumented Irish immigrant! These achievements are the foundation we can build the next phase of this campaign on. We knew this wasn't going to be the 100 yard dash – nothing in politics ever is. The marathon to legalize the Irish was always going to be just that, a marathon. And we have all done the necessary training to get us over the finish line together!

Lets continue to build on all our hard work of the last 18 months and get this job done, once and for all!