Monday, June 21, 2010

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

There Are Illegal Irish Immigrants Too

May 31, 2010 – Page 1318

By Theo Emery, CQ Staff

More than half of illegal immigrants to the United States come from Mexico, which puts our
southern neighbor at the center of the immigration debate and is the reason President Obama last week said he would send National Guard troops to help protect the border.

But what about the Irish?

An Irish-American group has for several years lobbied to arrange a path to citizenship for the 10,000 or more illegal Irish immigrants in the country — an asterisk among roughly 10 million undocumented non-citizens, but significant nonetheless.

“As far as Irish immigrants are concerned, a ‘no Irish need apply’ sign hangs on the Statue of
Liberty. Take it down,” says Ciaran Staunton, who co-founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform in 2005 and worked with Sens.

Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and John McCain of Arizona on their immigration (ROLL CALL / CHRIS MADDALONI) legislation.

Staunton is part of a coalition of immigrant-rights groups, ranging from Asians (an estimated 1
million illegal immigrants) to Africans (perhaps 300,000), urging Congress to act this year on
comprehensive legislation that would, among other things, allow a chance for citizenship.

But it’s hard to be heard in the dominant debate over Mexicans and other Latin Americans.
Asians and Africans, despite their numbers, “are often actually ignored when it comes to
dialogue or discussions about immigration reform,” says Chuks Eleonu, president and CEO of
the African Peoples Action Congress.

Staunton, however, doesn’t begrudge Latinos the attention. “When you fire a stone at an
undocumented from Nicaragua, you’re hitting one from County Kerry,” he says. “We’re all in it

Source: CQ Weekly
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