Friday, May 30, 2008

Headlines from the Irish American media this week

Cowen to Press for Undocumented
Irish Voice - New York, NY, USA
He also expressed a wish to meet with ILIR and people from the undocumented Irish community. Cowen has family in the US and once worked as a student in New York...

Cowen to address undocumented crisis in U.S. visit
Irish Echo - New York, NY, USA
Taoiseach Brian Cowen is expected to visit the U.S. in the near future, his first visit as head of government and part of his mission will be to address the plight of the undocumented Irish.

Passport Needed for Travel
Irish Voice - New York, NY, USA
“Of course you always take the risk when traveling inland if you are undocumented, but there is no law coming into effect or anything else that we are aware ...

Cowen to address undocumented crisis in U.S. visit

By Ray O'Hanlon
Irish Echo May 28

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is expected to visit to the U.S. in the near future, his first visit as head of government, and part of his mission will be to address the plight of the undocumented Irish.

Cowen met with Irish Lobby for Immigration reform chairman Niall O'Dowd in Dublin last week. O'Dowd described the meeting as "very positive" and said he was of the view that Cowen was "totally committed" to helping the undocumented Irish.

Helping the undocumented is one of the few areas of apparent cross-party agreement in Ireland although opposition parties, most especially Fine Gael, have criticized the Fianna Fáil-led government for a lack of progress on the idea of a bilateral visa deal between Ireland and
the U.S.

"I regret that the government missed a window of opportunity on this issue last November when it agreed a motion with Fine Gael to seek a bilateral agreement which would benefit Irish and American citizens seeking to work and travel between the two countries," said Fine Gael TD, Michael Ring, in a recent statement.

"This motion attracted cross-party support, so the government needs to fulfill the wishes of the Dáil by dealing with the plight of these Irish citizens," Ring said. "A bilateral agreement exists between the U.S. administration and the Australian government which allows 10,000 Australians to work in the United States annually while American citizens are granted the same number of Australian visas in return. "Given the strong economic ties between the island of Ireland and the United States I believe an agreement of this nature is the way forward," Ring said.

With regard to the undocumented, Sinn Féin senator Pearse Doherty said it was an issue "deep in the hearts of Irish people both here and in the U.S. and I want to pledge Sinn Féin's continued support for the (ILIR) campaign."

Doherty recently proposed a successful all party motion in the Seanad (Irish Senate) in support of the undocumented, this so that those campaigning for the undocumented would be able to argue that both houses of the Oireachtas were in support of their campaign. The motion was passed unanimously in the 66-member upper house.

"The undocumented Irish in America play a full and positive role in U.S. society and contribute to the economy. They have made good lives for themselves and are very much at home in the U.S. However the fear of not being allowed return means visits home are out of the question. This puts a huge strain on both the Irish in the U.S. and their families here at home as they cannot return for family get-togethers, weddings or even funerals. They are effectively cut off from their families.

"Every effort must be made to keep this issue to the fore of politics both here and in the U.S.," Senator Doherty concluded.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Taoiseach Cowen Boost for Undocumented Irish

The Irish Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, met with the Chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, Niall O'Dowd, this week in Dublin for an hour-long meeting on the plight of the undocumented Irish in the US.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr O'Dowd described it as "very positive," and said it was clear that Mr Cowen is totally committed to helping the undocumented Irish. Mr Cowen said he will be visiting the US soon and intends to meet with the ILIR and people from the community.

He told Mr O'Dowd that he wants to hear first-hand from those most affected by the situation. Mr Cowen noted that he had worked in the US as a student and understood the impact on the Irish American community.

We will keep you posted on any new developments in relation to the Taoiseach's visit to the US.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prayers for Senator Edward Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy, 76, who was diagnosed with brain cancer on Tuesday, is in our thoughts this week. His commitment to securing comprehensive immigration reform has made him a hero in our community.

Senator Kennedy is a real giant of the Senate. He put immigration reform on the map and has worked tirelessly to try and ensure that undocumented immigrants are not exploited and find a fair way to ensure they can stay here legally.

Without his work this issue would not even be on the radar. He attended three of our ILIR rallies and his impassioned words in defense of the undocumented will stay with us for a long time. He's been an enormous friend to undocumented Irish as well as every single Irish person who's ever set foot in the United States.

We wish him the best in his battle against his illness and we are certain that if anyone can recover from this illness he can.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Immigration Effort Back on Track

The ILIR met with Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, last week in an effort to write a new chapter in the push for immigration reform in the US.

As the Irish Echo put it this week, that effort is now Back On Track while the Irish Voice said there is a real need to work together.

We all hope that the immigration effort is back on track now with the Irish Government and ILIR working together to secure a future for the Irish in America.

ILIR vice-chairman Ciaran Staunton and Executive Director Kelly Fincham also met with the House speaker Nancy Pelosi (see picture above) who said she would be calling on the Irish to help support efforts to usher in immigration reform in the next Congress.