We don't often do this; but this comment deserves a post of its own...From Mary Kate in New York
MaryKate: I have been reading through here. I don't know how this is going to be received, but, here goes.....
My great-grandfather was born in Tourmakeady. After a brief stint in London, as a young man he found his way to New York City c. 1920. He had much less than some of the posters here have. He didn't have much to get by on: 8th grade education, not many marketable skills (even by the day's standards,) and only had his sisters to rely on for company.
Time passed for him. He met a girl from roughly the next town over in Ireland. They married, raised many children, and used their house in Brooklyn to help others adjust to America: they would board folks off the boat until they found a place to live. In the meantime, he worked the docks in Brooklyn and did the work most of the high and mighty "Americans" wouldn't touch with a barge pole. (During the Depression things were particularly bad: they lost a baby to genetic defect and hospital bills were terrible.)
Many years later, I look at his wedding photo, and then I look around: the sacrifices he and his wife made all those years ago paid off hugely. His daughter and her husband (may he rest in peace) have been helping folks in Woodside for decades. More than half of his grandchildren went to university: one is a professor at McGill in Canada. Another is a lawyer. His great-grandchildren include an engineer, a stockbroker, and my sister is a doctor-to-be. I am about to graduate with a degree in computer animation. All of this wouldn't have been possible without him: if he had never left or dared for something more I would not have been born, nor would an entire clan of people exist.
"So what does this have to do with the present discussion?"-More than you realize. Pop got here by jumping ship to Canada & then sailing down the Hudson: today that would get him INS all over his tail. He worked his @#$ off helping the US Navy at the Yards for his part in the war effort: today that would land him in jail as his contracts wouldn't be legit. He had a license until he was too old to see (not possible now) and his emigration helped others coming after him (not encouraged now.) He even helped his son-in-law (another Mayo man) get started in business-today he might not have the money! To say that I am disgusted is an understatement-my Pop EARNED the right to be here as much as I have the right to exist, which is more than I can say about some fat cats in Congress or especially King George.
My best advice is HOLD THE LINE. DO NOT BREAK. IF YOU TRULY WANT TO STAY HERE, NEVER BREAK OR THE BAD GUYS WIN. Immigration reform is needed badly here and the only folks who have a hope of changing it are immigrants, not necessarily voters: the work illegal immigrants generate is worth billions of dollars. If that were to suddenly dry up and people went on strike it could cripple the infrastructure-deporting millions of people at once is damned near impossible and 50,000+ illegal Irish could be leaders easily of a movement. (look up Mother Jones if you don't believe me.) Learn more about the history of the Irish here: there is a lot more to it than a song by the Pogues or, at least what I have seen from kin overseas, a textbook spiel (greater obstacles have been faced and overcome.) Speak to American friends who will listen-they will help you. And yes, albeit blunderingly with green beer and bad versions of The Wild Rover, reach out to your local AOH, chock full of Irish Americans whose pockets are deep and connections big.
In the meantime, wait a little until after the next election. Don't put much stock in HIlary or McCain-neither seem keen on changing much (McCain is towing the old xenophobic party line and Hilary doesn't give a tinker's damn about immigrants except if they are Chinese snakeheads who can intimidate the downtrodden Chinatowners into "donations". ) Don't wait for the Irish govt. to do much: if the economy starts to buck like a mule again the priorities shall shift. HOLD THE LINE, AND DEMAND WHAT YOU WANT.
And to the lady before me: don't give up just yet. Money can't solve everything, you're right, but going two steps forward and three back doesn't help either. You want better opportunity and so does he. The fact that you are still hanging tough and hanging on should be a testament, not a tragedy: my Pop was damned near broke, had a wife who constantly argued with his sister, had no health insurance, three small kids, and a fourth one slowly dying because he couldn't keep food in his stomach. So what did he do?-He set up a still in his basement at the height of Prohibition for extra cash, managed to have two more children, took another job with the local church, and by the time he was very old (100) surrounded himself with all his numerous kin, toothlessly shaking his cane at the sky and taunting the [long dead] brother who stayed behind that he beat him.
Have faith. It will work out in time.