Friday, February 29, 2008

ILIR at the White House for Immigration Meetings

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform ramped up their campaign in the US on Friday with a meeting in the White House with Ed Gillespie, the top advisor to President George W Bush.

ILIR Chairman Niall O'Dowd, Vice-Chairman Ciaran Staunton, Executive Director, Kelly Fincham, and Immigration Consultant Bruce Morrison met Mr Gillespie to discuss a limited immigration reform package which could include an Irish element among its provisions.

Chairman Niall O’Dowd said the meeting, which was set up by senior figures in the Republican Party US, was one of the most positive developments in recent times.

Hear Niall O'Dowd on RTE's News at One

Friday, February 22, 2008

Update from the ILIR

The ILIR will be holding a series of town halls to address concerns in the community about immigration reform in the coming weeks. We will be emailing times + venues in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, we have gathered a selection of recent articles and radio shows here which have appeared in different sites this week. The articles are listed below with the relevant links. Please feel free to comment on the official ILIR blog at or The 33rd County which is run by the Friends and Family in Ireland.

An Open Letter to Bertie (Niall O'Dowd) The Irish Star, Feb 22, 2008
Excerpt: I was disappointed that you never mentioned the Irish undocumented issue in your remarks is important for you to know that thousands of Irish undocumented emigrants in America will be watching and listening too. You see you are their last real hope of achieving legal status in the United States.

Irish Government Slammed after Hands are Tied Claim over Undocumented
The Irish government has been slammed over its inaction on the undocumented issue. Activists have compared comments by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to those of the Mexican President who this week pledged to up his commitment to Mexican immigrants in the US.

Deportation Fear Cost Man His Life
The father of a County Derry man who died in the US said he believes his son delayed seeking medical treatment because he feared being deported.

ILIR on Irish Radio Show
Interview with ILIR vice-chairman Ciaran Staunton and an undocumented Irish man on the "Right Hook" radio show in Ireland

Friday, February 15, 2008

John Duddy and ILIR in International Herald Tribune

International Herald Tribune
Ireland's John Duddy a throwback fighter with a modern message

The Associated Press
Friday, February 15, 2008

NEW YORK: John Duddy broke into a wide grin, yanking the fluffy white beard off his chin. Here was Ireland's own, back home in Derry last December, dressed in a ridiculous Santa Claus outfit and smiling like a 3-year-old just woken up on Christmas morning.

This is the promising fighter with the punishing punches and the unblemished record? This is the guy who sells out Madison Square Garden whenever he steps between the ropes, who's built a following in America's biggest city that reminds old-timers of a bygone era?

Turns out there's more to this middleweight contender than meets the eye — which, at the moment, would seem like quite a statement.

"He does so much for other people," said Adele McCourt, who works for the city of Derry, recalling the Santa getup to benefit charity. "Everybody loves him, very much so."

Similar sentiments are felt across Atlantic, where the adopted New Yorker has created a massive following among the city's Irish immigrant population.

Duddy is a reminder of boxing's "Golden Era," when big fights would draw tens of thousands to Yankee Stadium and Chicago Stadium. When Sugar Ray Robinson waged his epic battles against Kid Gavilan, Jake LaMotta and the toughest opponent of all, racism. And perhaps most importantly, when the city's melting pot would magically divide for a big fight, with Italians, Portuguese and Germans each backing their own.

"It is like a throwback, when New York was really the center of the earth," said Duddy, who will fight unheralded Walid Smichet on the undercard of the Wladimir Klitschko-Sultan Ibragimov heavyweight title fight on Feb. 23 at Madison Square Garden. "I think whenever I came along there was nothing there at all for the Irish American and the Irish man to support.

"The night before the soccer match (last year), when the Republic played at Giants Stadium, New York was green for a week," he continued. "I came along at a time when my people wanted to see one of our own. They have a good drink, a good sing and a good laugh."

That unabashed love is one of the reasons Duddy has thrown his support to the New York-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, attending meetings and wearing a T-shirt into the ring promoting the group's Web site,

The group estimates there are 50,000 undocumented Irish workers in the United States, lost in the shuffle of illegal immigrants from other parts of the globe and the bureaucracy that comes with applying for green cards and citizenship.

In 2006, the Irish were granted 2,038 green cards and 1,754 became U.S. citizens, according to the most recent data available from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Those numbers are on par with countries like Armenia and Belarus, and pale in comparison to the nearly 84,000 naturalized Mexicans and 47,500 from India.

"What we're seeing now is 20,000 immigrating to Australia each year that would come to the U.S. if they could come legally," said Kelly Finchem, executive director of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. "Irish people come to the U.S. almost reflexively."

The group has political support from both sides of the aisle, and appears well-positioned for the November election. Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have both expressed support for immigration reform, as has Republican front-runner John McCain.

It was McCain who attended a rally in the Bronx a couple of years ago in support of a comprehensive reform package that included a temporary guest worker program and provisions that would have allowed undocumented immigrants a chance to work toward citizenship. The bill made it through the U.S. Senate but died in Congress.

Duddy also attended that town hall meeting and was asked to pose a question to McCain.

"The moderator said we have a question from John Duddy, a couple thousand stand up and give him a standing ovation," Finchem said. "I'm sure Senator McCain was wondering what was going on."

Duddy downplays his role in the campaign. He readily admits he doesn't understand politics in the States, but figures if his people support him, the least he can do is support them.

Besides, the dashing young Irishman has had his own problems with the immigration service.

Realizing from a young age he wanted to be a professional boxer, Duddy moved to New York about four years ago in search of better trainers and better competition. When he went home for a visit, he learned he had overstayed his visa. It took months of wrangling to trim the red tape that allowed him to return to the U.S.

"People who come to work and are good citizens and didn't fill out the right paperwork, I look at it as personal," Duddy said through a thick brogue. "But again, I'm not a big influence on it. I wear a T-shirt and appear at some events. I sort of look at myself as everybody else."

But he's unlike anybody else when he pulls on those green Everlast gloves.

Duddy's straightforward, no-messing-around style has ended 17 of his 23 fights by knockout, and extended his cult status beyond just his Irish brethren.

When Duddy headlined the "Erin Go Brawl" card last March, busloads of fans flooded the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Duddy battered and bloodied Anthony Bonsante for nine of the scheduled 12 rounds in retaining the IBA middleweight title and capturing the vacant WBC Continental Americas crown.

"I want to excite and I don't want to hang around. I want to see if he can take what I have to offer," said Duddy, who enjoys an otherwise quiet life, playing the guitar and reading literature. "In the ring, I don't see any point dilly-dallying around."

Duddy might soon be taking a big step up in class, though, and many wonder how that style will translate against more refined opponents.

Promoter Eddie McLoughlin of Irish Ropes said an agreement is nearly in place for Duddy to fight WBC and WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in June, most likely in New York, assuming his star gets past Smichet and Pavlik's fight against Jermain Taylor doesn't derail the deal.

McLoughlin can't imagine anything getting in the way of his Irish hope.

"It's looking good right now," he said of the deal. "You know everybody wants it."
International Herald Tribune Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune |

Sunday, February 10, 2008


By Cynthia Tucker Sat Feb 9, 7:56 PM ET Yahoo News

So much for Tancredoism.

Tom Tancredo is the Colorado congressman who ran for the Republican presidential nomination on a simple platform of nativism and undisguised contempt for illegal immigrants. Since his ill-tempered and simplistic views reflected the sentiments of the hard-core Republican base, several other members of the GOP field adopted a similar mean-spirited rhetoric.

As Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney -- Republican hopefuls with moderate records on illegal immigration -- tacked toward Know-Nothingism, Arizona Sen. John McCain stood largely apart, resisting the impulse to blame illegal immigrants for everything from terrorism to high taxes. As his signature legislation to legalize undocumented workers was routinely excoriated as "amnesty" by conservative talk-show hosts and right-wing bloggers, McCain barely budged.

In November, during a Republican debate in St. Petersburg, Fla., his GOP rivals worked to prove their anti-immigration bona fides, citing their support for such dubious measures as high fences and hot pursuit of Mexican landscapers. A clearly unenthusiastic McCain pledged to tighten the borders but declined to ratchet up his rhetoric.

"We must recognize these are God's children as well," he said. "They need our love and compassion, and I want to ensure that I will enforce the borders first. But we won't demagogue it."

Now, McCain is the likely Republican nominee. Among the losers in last Tuesday's mega-primary was the Tancredo Credo, which placed illegal immigrants at the center of every peril and every problem facing the American voter. With both remaining Democrats -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- having voted for comprehensive immigration reform, there is little chance the Oval Office will be occupied by an anti-immigration mossback.

Even Republican voters have moved immigration down to their second most-important issue, after the economy, according to Super Tuesday exit polls. The war in Iraq ranked third among GOP voters. Democrats, meanwhile, don't list immigration among their top three concerns. Instead, they emphasize the economy, the war in Iraq and health care.

Illegal immigration remains a complex and nettlesome issue, requiring a thoughtful and measured response. That, by the way, was represented by the McCain-Kennedy comprehensive reform bill, which failed when Republicans, despite support from President Bush, refused to vote for it.

While illegal immigrants burden the social infrastructure -- schools, hospitals and housing -- they also revitalize many neighborhoods as they open new businesses and buy additional goods and services.

Many immigrant children will start elementary school with poor English skills. That forces teachers to work harder and places an undue burden on schools that are already overcrowded. But those Mexican and Guatemalan schoolchildren will learn to speak English quickly because language skills are more easily acquired in youth. (The relative youth of illegal immigrants also helps the United States solve a demographic problem: As the U.S. birth rate falls, we are aging as a nation. We need a steady supply of younger workers.)

At the very bottom of the wage scale, illegal immigrants probably take a few jobs away from uneducated and marginalized American laborers. But the effect is minimal, according to researchers. The most comprehensive analysis has found that illegal immigration depresses wages no more than 50 cents to 60 cents an hour -- hardly a figure that makes or breaks a budget.

Those subtleties were drowned out by the Know-Nothing demagoguery that dominated the Republican presidential campaign. But with the GOP race largely settled -- and with Obama and Clinton conscientiously courting Latino voters -- the rhetoric will likely moderate.

That's because voters didn't fall for the scapegoating premise of Tancredoism. It was a bad product, and few voters bought it.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney's Out! Another Victory for Immigrant Advocates

So, farewell to Mitt Romney; another casualty of the wrong-headed attitude to immigration championed by most Republicans' (and some Democrats it has to be said).

ILIR vice-chairman Ciaran Staunton made headlines when he challenged Romney on immigration during the debates in New Hampshire in the first weekend in January. Ciaran was the only person that we are aware of who stood up and publicly challenged Romney on his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

We've been saying it all along, (and hopefully the mainstream media will start picking up on this) - American voters are not terrified of immigrants; we're terrified of losing our homes, losing our health care, losing our children in war, we are NOT terrified of people who are only trying to work for a living.

John McCain knows this, Hillary Clinton knows this and Barack Obama knows this. Maybe there's hope for comprehensive immigration reform after all...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lou Dobbs on Defensive over Anti-immigrant Stance

The president of La Raza, Janet Murguia, takes on Lou Dobbs over his anti-immigrant stance. It's a fantastic segment, great to see someone holding Lou Dobbs accountable the hate speech that parades across his show on a nightly basis. Click here to view the clip. Ms Murguia was also promoting the new website We Can Stop The Hate which documents the slew of hateful comment swirling round the alleged debate on immigration. Dobbs does not come across well on this segment. Janet Rocks!!

Immigration Misfire (from Wall Street Journal)

Immigration Misfire
Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2008; Page A16

Political pundits used to maintain that the American electorate was galvanized around the issue of illegal immigration. Voters, they claimed, would punish any candidate who failed to take a tough stance on immigrants and did not adamantly oppose the "A" word -- Amnesty -- in all its tortured definitions.

Yet a funny thing happened in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. The most anti-immigrant candidates performed below expectations, and those accused of supporting amnesty and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants won.

How is this possible? How could John McCain, the author of the McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration bill beat Mitt Romney, who aired anti-illegal-immigrant commercials more than 12,000 times in Iowa and New Hampshire alone?

Well, it turns out that 57% of Iowa primary voters actually favored earned citizenship for the undocumented. Only 23% favored deportation. And according to New Hampshire exit polls, immigration was not among the three most important issues for Democrats. It was tied for third place among Republicans.

In Florida, Mr. Romney's anti-illegal-immigrant message led Cuban Americans to vote for Mr. McCain by a 5-1 margin. Additionally, CNN exit polls showed that Republicans who favored deportation for illegal immigrants constituted only 40% of the vote, while 58% favored either temporary resident status or an earned pathway to citizenship.

Now the pundits have changed their tune. Mr. Romney's anti-illegal-immigrant rhetoric, they're declaring, is driving Latino voters away from the GOP and making traditionally conservative states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Iowa and even Arizona into swing states.

However, the backlash to Mr. Romney's rhetoric was predictable from the beginning. In 22 national public opinion polls conducted last year, 50%-83% of Americans supported some type of pathway to legalization for undocumented workers. In almost every competitive race in the 2006 congressional elections that matched an anti-immigration candidate against one that supported comprehensive immigration reform, the anti-immigrant candidate lost.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Romney started out with a fairly moderate position on immigration, saying in 2005 that it would not be "practical or economic for the country" to deport all undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. In reference to the proposals of President Bush and Mr. McCain to create pathways to legalization, Mr. Romney told the Boston Globe that, "I think those are reasonable proposals."

Yet once Mr. Romney became serious about a presidential run his rhetoric became increasingly anti-immigrant. On his way out the door as governor of Massachusetts, he initiated a program to deputize state troopers to detain individuals solely on the basis of their immigration status. Once on the campaign trail, he began running numerous ads attacking the other candidates for being too soft on "illegals."

Apparently conservative voters respond to issues that impact their personal quality of life far more than they do to racially polarized rhetoric designed to pit one group of Americans against another. In the two states Mr. Romney won, Michigan and Nevada, he focused on economic issues, and exit polls show that issue resonated much more than immigration.

While Mr. Romney's campaign must be disappointed with the election results so far, it is immigrants themselves who've suffered the most from the divisive offensive on immigration. Congress shelved comprehensive reform last summer, as many members became convinced that helping immigrants, even when it is in our nation's interest, was politically untenable. Inflammatory rhetoric has also led to a dramatic increase in hate crimes and racial profiling against Latinos, according to the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In 2008, our country needs a leader who will unite Americans, not divide them; one that honors the hard work and patriotism of immigrants, not holds them out for public scorn. Even if pundits, bloggers and talk show hosts can't seem to get this message in their heads, the American public is speaking through their votes. They are choosing candidates who offer hope and solutions, not the politics of fear.

Ms. Rosales is president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

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