Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another tragedy for undocumented Irish

A toast to an Irishman, By Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe, January 31, 2008

Eddie Treacy lived in the shadows and died in his bed, the covers pulled up, his lungs full of fluid.

He was 33 years old, and there is no other way to say this: He died too young.

He came to Dorchester eight years ago from Athenry, in County Galway, part of what could be the last great wave of the young Irish to come here.

Boston is still Irish enough for a guy like Eddie Treacy to fit in. There's always enough work, and there are Gaelic games in Canton on the weekends and fresh brown bread every day at Greenhills Bakery in Adams Village.

Eddie was a master carpenter and made a decent living. For a young man, he was old school, using a simple tool called a square.

Eddie only needed one measurement for a job. Others would punch away at calculators, but Eddie would do the calculations in his head, and hand off the wood, cut precisely, like a diamond.

After a day's work, Eddie would make his way to the Eire Pub for a few jars. If the stool next to his great pal, Muldoon, was open, he would take it.

"How's Mul?" Eddie would ask.

"How's Eddie?" Muldoon would ask back.

And then they would silently watch the news on the TV set over the head of Martin Nicholson, the barman. With Eddie, there was no need for long yarns or running commentary.

Eddie was a rare Irishman, in that he was a great listener, not a great talker. If he agreed with you, he would nod, almost imperceptibly. If he thought you were full of it, he would raise an eyebrow, a silent indictment.

Like other illegal immigrants, he wanted to legalize his residency. He would have paid anything, done anything. But there was no way.

He thought about going home, as his brother Michael did, not long after Eddie first came here.

But Eddie liked it here, so he stayed on, kept his head down.

He didn't ask for much. Once, he told Muldoon he would be happy if he died in his own bed and they played "The Fields of Athenry" at his funeral. They both laughed, because young men don't think they will ever die.

Eddie died in his own bed. We will never know if it was stubborn pride or a fear of being deported that kept him from going to a hospital to treat the pneumonia that killed him. Maybe he just didn't realize how sick he was.

Gerry Treacy hadn't seen his brother in eight years, and when he finally did, Eddie was lying in a casket inside the Keaney Funeral Home on Dot Ave.

"He was a quiet lad," Gerry Treacy was saying, as he and Michael prepared to bring their brother home. "He liked the simple pleasures."

Brendan McCann, a senior at BC High, stood near the altar and played "The Fields of Athenry" on his fiddle as they wheeled Eddie Treacy's casket down the aisle of St. Brendan's Church.

All around the church, there were images of another carpenter who died at 33, nearly 2,000 years ago, another carpenter who some people dismissed as a criminal.

After Mass, about 200 people posed on the front steps of the church for a photo to send back to Eddie's mother, Ann, so she would know that Eddie mattered here. Many of the young men standing there had given up a day's wages to pay their respects.

Then everybody went to Sonny's, the pub that sponsored the Father Tom Burke hurling teams Eddie played for and managed.

Muldoon raised a glass to his friend.

"We'll never see the likes of him again," he said.

On Monday night, as President Bush told the nation that we need to find "a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally," Eddie Treacy's body was in the cargo hold of Aer Lingus Flight 132, somewhere over the Atlantic, heading home.

Eddie Treacy was buried today, where he wanted to be, in the fields of Athenry.

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

Major Hispanic Group Launches 'Hate Speech' Campaign Targeting Dobbs, Beck

Finally, finally, Lou Dobbs is being taken to task for his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

La Raza, the country's biggest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization has launched a mega-watt campaign targeting several newscasters and presidential candidates for "rhetoric that demonizes immigrants and Hispanic Americans."

La Raza, which includes nearly 300 affiliated organizations, will launch a new initiative on Thursday titled "We Can Stop The Hate," aimed at curtailing the influence of CNN's Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck as well as MSNBC political commentator Pat Buchanan. In addition, the organization is petitioning for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to renounce the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, a cofounder of the Minuteman Project, an anti-immigration group.

"There's a bully in the room," said Janet MurguĂ­a, NCLR President and CE, "and each of these candidates has a choice. They can stand up to the bully or they can cater to him. It is a question of courage or cowardice. To date, we have seen far too little courage."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Immigration issue killed Romney in Florida

Hispanics deliver Florida for McCain:by Simon Rosenberg: See original post here

According to the exit polls Mitt Romney and John McCain tied 33% to 33% among the 89% of the Florida voters last night who were not Hispanic. Among Hispanics, who were 11% of the Florida GOP electorate last night, the vote was 54% McCain, 24% Rudy and 14% Romney. So it was the vote of Hispanic voters who put John McCain over the top in Florida, and gave him the most important win of his fight for the GOP nomination.

Thus, John McCain, the candidate who championed immigration reform, may have had the nomination delivered to him by those Hispanic voters he has been fighting for. And Romney, who has led the anti-immigrant crusade in the GOP field this year, saw this strategy explode on him - as it has virtually every other Republican who has invested in it - last night.

McCain has had to distance himself from his more moderate position on immigration in order to attempt to negate some of the hostility conservatives have toward him. The quicker he wraps this thing up, the quicker he can throw his base under the bus on immigration and make a last-ditch effort to rescue the Republican Party from itself on the issue. Too bad for him, he'll have hundreds of little Republicans running down-ballot races basing their entire campaigns on demonizing brown people.

Friday, January 18, 2008

One Argument, 12 Million Holes

This is a great editorial from the New York Times today. However, it's not only the Democrats who need to stand up more forcefully. Where are the other pro-immigrant groups? So far, ILIR Vice Chairman, Ciaran Staunton, has been the only person we know of to publicly challenge Mitt Romney.

JAN 18, NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: The big fat immigration bill that died last year in Congress was, for all its flaws, an anchor that kept debate tethered firmly to reality. Like it or not, it contained specific remedies for the border and the workplace. It had a plan for clearing backlogs in legal immigration and managing its future flow. Perhaps most critical, it dealt with the 12 million illegal immigrants already here, through a tough path to earned citizenship.

Unmoored from a comprehensive federal bill, the debate was pushed into the states and is now floating in the La-La Land of the presidential campaign. The Republicans have been battling over the sincerity of their sound bites and trying to make their fixation on one dimension of the problem — tough border and workplace enforcement — sound like the solution.

But it isn’t, of course, because it ignores the fundamental question of what to do about the undocumented 12 million. A locked-down border won’t affect them. There is no way to round them up and move them out all at once. Not even the most eagerly anti-immigration candidate would dare talk about detention camps. Amnesty is a Republican curse word. So what’s the plan?

This is the cavernous hole in anti-immigration policy that its proponents want to cover with chain link and razor wire. It’s where swaggering Republicans get vague and mushy. The emptiness of their position was acutely exposed in the Jan. 5 debate, when Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, ripped into Senator John McCain of Arizona for sponsoring an “amnesty” bill that did not call for the mass expulsion of 12 million people.

MR. McCAIN: There is no special right associated with my plan. I said they should not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior.

MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?

MR. McCAIN: They have to get in line —

MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?

MR. McCAIN: — behind everybody else.

MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?

MR. McCAIN: Some of them are, some of them are not, depending on their situation.

You’d think that Mr. Romney wanted all illegal immigrants to be sent home. But minutes later, he told the moderator, Charles Gibson of ABC News, something completely different.

MR. GIBSON: Is it practical to take 12 million people and send them out of the country?

MR. ROMNEY: Is it practical? The answer is no. The answer is no.

Mr. Romney (who in the distant past — 2005 — called the McCain bill “reasonable”) stumbled further on a talk show, “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” the next day. He struggled over whether the McCain bill could even be called “amnesty,” since it fined illegal immigrants $5,000.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you do believe his plan is amnesty then?

MR. ROMNEY: Not under a legal definition but under the normal, colloquial definition, yes.

Under the normal, colloquial definition, Mr. Romney is talking through his hat. But he isn’t alone. Except for Mr. McCain, the Republican candidates have skirted the issue or, worse, embraced the restrictionist approach known as “attrition.” That amounts to relentlessly tightening the screws in workplaces and homes until illegal immigrants magically, voluntarily disappear.

Making it work would require far more government intrusion into daily lives, with exponential increases in workplace raids and deportations. It would mean constant ID checks for everyone — citizens, too — with immigration police at the federal, state and local levels. It would mean enlisting bureaucrats and snoops to keep an eye on landlords, renters, laborers, loiterers and everyone who uses government services or gets sick.

Worst of all, it’s weak on law and order. It is a free pass to the violent criminals we urgently need to hunt down and deport. Attrition means waiting until we stumble across bad people hiding in the vast illegal immigrant haystack. Comprehensive reform, by bringing the undocumented out of the shadows, shrinks the haystack.

Fred Thompson has been perhaps the most vocal defender of attrition. But on Wednesday, the newly restrictionist Mike Huckabee one-upped him by signing the “No Amnesty” pledge of the nativist group NumbersUSA, formally committing to the principle that all 12 million illegal immigrants must be expelled. Americans, naturally, have no earthly idea how he would accomplish that.

Even if you accept the Republicans’ view of immigration policy as warfare against illegal immigrants, their tactics are the rejects of history, starting with that Vietnam-evoking “attrition.” The border wall is right from Monsieur Maginot’s playbook — fortifying just one of two international borders even though at least 40 percent of illegal immigrants arrive perfectly legally and then overstay their visas.

The attrition fantasy is now, by default, the national immigration strategy. The government is essentially committed to expelling all illegal immigrants, not assimilating them. Instead of bringing its power to bear, Washington has gladly handed the task to a motley collection of state and local governments, each enforcing its own rules, often at cross purposes.

Now, attrition is threatening to become a bipartisan disaster. The SAVE Act, an enforcement-only bill, was introduced last year by a Democrat, Representative Heath Shuler of North Carolina, and the notoriously restrictionist Republicans Brian Bilbray and Tom Tancredo. It is gaining sponsors.

The Republican stance on immigration leaves an opening that opponents could drive a truck through. The Democratic candidates have the better position but approach the subject with eggshell timidity. They should stand up for a real debate, and a better country, by forcefully challenging the Republicans on this issue.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'No Irish Need Apply'

By Suzanne Connolly (The Irish Emigrant)

Ciaran Staunton, speaking at the U.S.-Ireland Forum, Affinia Hotel in New York. 'If Romney got his way, it would see the end of the Irish community in America.'

The Queens businessman who brought presidential candidate Mitt Romney to task in front of an international audience over the Irish undocumented in New Hampshire last week said Romney wants to see the end of the Irish in America.

Speaking to The Irish Emigrant, Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Vice-Chairman Ciaran Staunton, 44, said Romney's policies on the undocumented, if he made it to the White House, would spell disaster for Irish people across America.

"If Romney got his way, it would see the end of the Irish community in America," he said. "His policies prove he's living in the past and all forms of anti-immigration bigotry should be faced down. The Irish community stopped him in New Hampshire. The tide has turned on this because people stood up and said ‘enough.’ He's winding down his budget in New Hampshire now and focusing on other areas."

A week of media frenzy followed the New Hampshire showdown at the Romney “Ask Mitt Anything” showcase, which took place during the run-up to Tuesday's primary, where Mayo-born Staunton held a placard reading “No Irish Need Apply” as he sat in the front row of the audience.

However, the Romney camp was unapologetic for its stance and when asked how he felt the maelstrom of negative media attention would impact on his performance with the Irish voters. In a written statement provided by Romney’s campaign, the former governor explained the justification for his position.

“I strongly oppose an amnesty program that would automatically grant citizenship to the illegal immigrants already in this country,” Romney said in the statement.

The heated debate, which saw Staunton ask Romney “Have you no shame?” highlighted the undocumented issue to an international audience, with Staunton saying that of the 50,000 to 60,000 undocumented Irish in the country, “many of them are mothers and fathers of American children. Just remember that they're human beings,” he said.

Romney has taken a strong stance against comprehensive immigration reform during his campaign, said “illegal immigration presents numerous challenges for our communities. I believe it's important to end illegal immigration so we can maintain and encourage legal immigration.”

Romney added “securing our borders is the first means of addressing the problem of illegal immigration in our country. Next, we must create an employment verification system that is enforceable and tamper-proof, to ensure that we're only giving jobs to those who are here legally, and penalize employers who hire those without proper identification.

Romney has said the government should not provide any special privilege or pathway to citizenship for those here illegally.

"As governor of Massachusetts, I took action to address illegal immigration,” Romney said. “I stopped measures that would have provided driver's licenses and in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. I also took steps to deputize Massachusetts State Troopers to question, detain and arrest illegal immigrants. As president, I will enforce existing federal immigration laws and cut back funding to 'sanctuary cities' that encourage illegal immigration.”

Despite the negative backlash against Romney on the undocumented Irish issue, he said he is running for president “because I fervently believe that I have the experience and vision to address the issues facing our country.”

If elected, Romney aims to secure points of entry throughout the country, implement a “mandatory and enforceable employment verification system,” issue a biometrically-enabled and tamper-proof card to non-citizens and create a national database so employers can easily verify the legal status of non-citizens in this country.

Employers who employ the undocumented would be made “accountable” with stiffer fines and penalties, there would be no amnesty or "any special path to citizenship for those here illegally" and cities that are so-called "sanctuaries" for the undocumented would have federal funding cut back.

Romney's plans to eradicate the undocumented from America include opposing any special benefits for them, including opposing giving driver's licenses or in-state tuition to those here illegally. As president, he has pledged to cut back federal funding to states that do so and to end the policy of chain migration that allows the family of a child born here to live here.

By contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and her ex-president husband agree with Republican Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., Immigration Bill to bring about progressive immigration reform.

Speaking last Saturday in New Hampshire, Bill Clinton said, “I think the humane thing to do here is to give the people that are here and are working and have no law problems, except that they're not here legally, a chance to work their way into legal citizenship. You know, the vast majority of these people are completely law abiding, and they pay taxes, even, but they're not here lawfully. I talk to people, you know, and I try to figure out what's going on. I think that is the fairer system. It’s also consistent with the bill that Sen. McCain supported in the Senate.

“I think it's the right thing to do, and so does Hillary.”

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Go raibh maith agat Des!

Des Bishop raised an amazing $6,500 for the ILIR campaign in a one-off show in Yonkers on Friday night. His generosity is seriously appreciated by all the ILIR volunteers and supporters. We can't thank him enough for being such an all-round decent guy. We'd also like to apologize for the four individuals from Cork (you know who you are) whose behavior let themselves and their county down. Luckily for us, Des was able to ignore them. It was a brilliant night. The gig was a massive success and we hope Des comes back again soon!

ILIR stays in the news with Romney challenge

ILIR Vice Chairman Ciaran Staunton continues to make news over his challenge to Presidential contender Mitt Romney - this piece comes from the Daily News in New York.


Hillary Clinton isn't the only New Yorker who made waves in New Hampshire. Ciaran Staunton (right), a Sunnyside activist, made national news last weekend when he challenged presidential hopeful Mitt Romney about his immigration policies and accused the former Massachusetts governor of turning his back on immigrants.

"As governor of Massachusetts he was generous in funding immigration centers," said Staunton, 44, the vice president of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. "Now he's done an about-face in his immigration policies."

Staunton sat in the front row of an "Ask Mitt Anything" meeting in Derry, N.H., on Saturday.

Introducing himself as a member of the Irish community, Staunton praised Romney's immigration record as a governor, then accused him of changing his stance to woo GOP voters.

"When you sit down tonight, Gov. Romney, will you do me a favor, please remember that they are human," Staunton said of the more than 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants thought to be in the U.S.

"I feel, Gov. Romney, that you've turned your back on God's creatures," said Staunton, who was then roundly jeered by Romney supporters.

"I love legal immigration," Romney said in response. "But I want to end illegal immigration. ... They should get in line if they want to become a citizen."

Romney has come out in favor of border fences and biometric ID cards, and he made it legal for Massachusetts police officers to ask people about their immigration status. He also opposes any form of amnesty for immigrants.

"It's sad to see a politician grandstanding on bigotry," said Staunton's brother-in-law, Niall O'Dowd, publisher of the Irish Voice. He was sitting next to Staunton at the meeting. "The demonizing of undocumented people is the worst I've seen in 30 years."

Staunton moved to the U.S. from Westport, County Mayo, in 1982 and now owns O'Neills Irish Bar in midtown Manhattan.

He said that more than 40 million Americans claim Irish heritage and that in 2005 only 76 diversity visas were awarded to Irish citizens.

Members of Staunton's group regularly travel to Washington to lobby elected officials for easing restrictions on immigration.

"There's a lot of anti-immigrant hysteria in this country," Staunton said of his reason for trekking to the Granite State to hobnob with presidential hopefuls. "It's modern-day McCarthyism."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Des Bishop SOLD OUT on PayPal

We had reserved 150 tickets on the Paypal system and they are all now sold out. There will be an additional 200 tickets available on the door tonight for the people who were unable to use the PayPal option. Thanks a million for your support.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The politics of immigration

Ciaran Staunton has been all over the media after he challenged Mitt Romney in the New Hampshire primaries. Seems Ciaran was the ONLY representative of the immigration movement to publicly challenge Romney on immigration. Clever move on Ciaran's part to use the language so beloved by the Republicans against them.

Btw, Immigrants List has issued a press release showing that Romney actually LOST votes trying to run his anti-immigration campaign against Senator McCain. They've also created a really simple easy-to-use template to write your local newspaper.

ILIR takes on Romney in New Hampshire

ILIR vice chairman Ciaran Stanton challenged Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney on his anti-immigration stance. Ciaran also made RTE The Irish Times The New York DailyNews and USA Today