Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Taoiseach dampens hopes of US visa deal for Irish illegals

Kenny in Washington: Contentious US immigration reform ‘somewhat intractable’
Irish Times - 18 March 2015
Taoiseach Enda Kenny used his annual St Patrick’s Day trip to Washington to press for help for illegal Irish immigrants but said there was “an issue” around lifting long-term travel bans stopping “undocumented” people travelling back and forth to Ireland.
Speaking at the annual St Patrick’s Day breakfast for Mr Kenny hosted by vice-president Joe Biden, the Taoiseach said the issue of immigration reform “may well be somewhat intractable”.
Later, after meeting US president Barack Obama at the Oval Office, Mr Kenny described as “a disappointment” the legal stalling of Mr Obama’s executive action designed to bypass the Republican-led Congress and aiming to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation.
The measures were expected to assist illegal Irish unable to return home for family occasions such as weddings and funerals and emergencies without being blocked on their return to the US.
In the Oval Office, Mr Kenny said that he discussed with Mr Obama the possibility of visa waivers that would allow illegal immigrants to return to Ireland without facing three- or 10-year travel bans for illegally overstaying old visas on their return to the US.
Legal route
He also raised the prospects of the new E3 visa which would give new emigrants a fresh legal route to live and work in the US.
Mr Kenny said that “our real problem” was securing permission for illegals to travel back and forth to Ireland in the absence of a wider agreement.
“And also there’s an issue about [the] waiver scheme and the way it applies,” he added.
Mr Obama said he and Mr Kenny shared the view that one of the great strengths of the United States has been “its willingness to welcome new immigrants to our shores”.
Praising the strong ties between the two countries, he said: “Nobody has contributed more to the growth and dynamism of the US economy than our Irish immigrants. That continues to be the case.”
The US president, wearing a green tie, described the St Patrick’s Day “annual affair” as “always one of my favourites”.
“It allows me to trot out my Irish heritage and brings back incredibly fond memories of my visits to Ireland,” he said.
Speaking at his breakfast, Mr Biden said “genius” was required “on all sides to lock down” the Stormont House Agreement and resolve the ongoing impasse between Northern Irish parties over welfare reform.
Asked after meeting Mr Obama what the president had said about Northern Ireland, Mr Kenny replied: “He expressed his understanding that there’s a bit of an obstacle here, but I explained to him that I expect this can be dealt with.
“It’s a case now for the executive politicians in Northern Ireland and the leadership to sit down now and sort out whatever little obstacles are there.”
The Taoiseach was speaking ahead of the traditional shamrock-giving ceremony at the White House.
Greeting Mr Kenny at his residence in the morning, Mr Biden, who is well known for his gaffes, told reporters gathered for the arrival of Mr Kenny and his wife Fionnuala: “Anyone wearing orange is not welcome in here . . . only joking.”
It appears that we are back to “square one” with regard to immigration reform not only for the Irish, but for all undocumented persons.  Also, the proposed Irish E-3 temporary work permits appear to be “dead in the water”. There will be no waivers to allow undocumented Irish nationals to travel outside the U.S. until a wider agreement is reached.  Where we go from here is anybody’s guess, but the information in this article is less than encouraging, to say the least, for any new developments to take place in the foreseeable future.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Boston Irish Group

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kenny is ‘not in a position’ to dictate to US on immigration reform

Taoiseach to raise issue of undocumented Irish in St Patrick’s Day meeting with Obama

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will raise the issue of the undocumented Irish when he meets US president Barack Obama at the White House on St Patrick’s Day but will not adopt an “aggressive stance” with the American administration.

New York-based publisher Niall O’Dowd recently called for pressure to be put on the US Government, adding that it did not respond to politicians “being nice”.

However, Mr. Kenny said his Government would negotiate but was not in a position to dictate to the American administration on the issue of immigration reform.
“I don’t agree that arriving up on Capital Buildings and being very aggressive is going to yield any more beneficial results,” Mr Kenny said on Monday.
“And I understand that Niall O’Dowd has a long experience of dealing with this, but politicians have to negotiate with each other.”

Mr Kenny said the most important thing for undocumented Irish was to ensure they could travel to Ireland and back to the US while a “path to legitimacy or legalisation” was being formulated.

Pointing to the balance of power in the US, Mr Kenny said: “There’s a new administration obviously here in the States now with the Republicans in charge in the Senate and in the House, as it were.”

He said it was a matter for the American administration to decide what it wanted to do. Mr Obama’s executive action on immigration announced last November had been strongly supported by the Government.

It would bring “limited benefit to different sectors”, Mr Kenny added.
“So the administration now needs to sit down and decide how best it sees that it should do this and that’s why we negotiate with them from our perspective as to what we want.”

Mr Kenny expressed sympathy with the plight of undocumented Irish in the US.
“The reason that they’re undocumented is that many of them might have overstayed their welcome on ordinary visas or whatever, but it’s the human consequences of that that interest me,” he said.
“And you know the stories of people who have died at home and those who are here can’t go back.”

Mr Kenny said those stories would form part of the case the Government would make to the US administration in the hope that a process to help so-called illegals could be secured.
“I don’t agree that having a more aggressive stance would bring results any faster. We’re not in a position to dictate to the American administration what to do here,” he said,
“We are in a position to negotiate with them in respect of the 50,000 that we know are undocumented here in the States from Ireland.”

Mr Kenny praised the new US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley who said had a good understanding of the issues involved.
“The really important thing from an Irish point of view is that once a process is put in place that our people would have the opportunity to be able to travel over and back while that path to legitimacy or legalization is actually achieved.
“That’s the really important issue for us.”


Niall O’Dowd is absolutely wrong in suggesting that the Irish Taoiseach should take a militant stance with the American government regarding a possible resolution to the plight of the undocumented Irish nationals currently residing in the U.S. The fact is that Mr. Kenny represents a very minute portion of the total number of undocumented persons in this country. Although we, as Americans of Irish heritage have strong feelings of sympathy for Irish immigrants, the decision makers do not necessarily share those feelings. Most of them consider a person’s immigration status to be far more important than his/her country of origin. They hear Americans of many  ethnic backgrounds advocating for immigrants from their countries of origin and in the end it becomes a case of “an immigrant is an immigrant”. So, when Mr. Kenny is trying to get special consideration for Irish immigrants, he would be well advised to think in terms of “a pat on the back goes much further than a kick in the shins”.

Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Boston Irish Group

Monday, March 16, 2015

Parade clash of wills forecast for Southie Some Catholics boycott over gay marchers

 Owen Boss, Jordan Graham - Sunday, March 15, 2015
A massive showdown is brewing for today’s South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, with defiant conservative Catholic groups lining up on one side and gay rights advocates and members of the state’s political establishment on the other.
Two Catholic organizations that planned to march in the parade, Harvard’s Immaculate Heart of Mary School and the state council of the Knights of Columbus, have announced that they will not be participating in the wake of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council’s groundbreaking decision to include two gay pride groups in this year’s parade.
“We don’t believe that any Catholic organization should be part of a parade that is promoting a homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage and that is their agenda,” Immaculate Heart of Mary School principal Brother Thomas Dalton told the Herald. “They want to get people used to that and acceptant of that ... and they’re trying to get the cloak of the Catholic Church to cover them and the Church just isn’t going to do that.”
Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle is urging other Catholic groups to boycott today as well.
“St. Patrick was not a figure of mythology. He was a Catholic bishop and is a Catholic saint, and he was not a proponent of gay rights,” Doyle said, slamming the inclusion of OUTVETS — a group of openly gay veterans — and gay pride organization Boston Pride in this year’s 114th annual parade for the first time. “Call it the Evacuation Day Parade. Call it the South Boston Irish Pride Festival. Call it whatever you want — but don’t debase the name of St. Patrick by associating it with the tawdry circus that will take place on Broadway tomorrow.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who made headlines last year when he refused to march in the parade because organizers wouldn’t allow gay marchers, touted this year’s “inclusive parade” — and shrugged off the boycotters.
“If they don’t want to march, they don’t have to march, the parade is going to go on,” Walsh said. “I’m very happy about the fact that it’s an inclusive parade. It’s been a battle for 20-plus years for the gay community to march in the parade. ... It’s 2015, it should be a positive message.”
The parade was the subject of a Supreme Court case that decades ago gave the council the right to exclude marchers who displayed gay rights banners. This year is the first they will be included.
“This year the message is inclusivity, and that’s been great to see,” Maura Healey — the state’s first openly gay attorney general — said yesterday. “I do hope that people embrace this as a real sign of progress, a sign of inclusivity, a sign of we’re all equal in this, and that’s what this really is about.”
“I’m honored and thrilled to be able to march in the parade,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “I think the organizers made some changes that made it more inclusive, and we made our decision to march and we’re looking forward to marching.”
Noting that they “deeply regret that some have decided to use this occasion to further the narrow objectives of special interests,” the Knights of Columbus announced Friday they were backing out of the parade.
Yesterday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, after celebrating Mass, Father Kevin O’Leary told the Herald the church will observe St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, and noted the archdiocese isn’t affiliated with the parade.
The die is cast and the genie is out of the bottle. Shamefully, decades of effort to prevent groups who seek to promote their sexual preferences rather than their Irish heritage from participation in parades intended to honor St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and the cities of Boston and New York have come to an end. Despite favorable decisions in several courts including the U.S. Supreme Court, relentless, militant, alternative lifestyle groups and self serving politicians who pander to them because of their proactive attitude toward politics and their strong voting record have come out (excuse the pun) on top. They have gotten their foot in the door and, rest assured, they will return in succeeding years in ever increasing numbers. Sadly, many of the offending politicians claim to be Catholic and should be aware that the homosexual lifestyle is against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Maybe it is time to remove all references to St. Patrick from these parades and convert them to secular events with no association to religion or religious figures.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sinn Fein votes to support abortion in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormality (FFA)

Irish Independent – 7 March 2015
Sinn Fein delegates have voted to allow termination in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormality (FFA) at the party’s Ard Fheis in Derry.
The motion, backed by the party's leadership and central council, was endorsed by a comfortable majority of delegates. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald voted for motion 122 from the stage of the auditorium.
The adoption of the motion meant that another motion, seeking the blanket right to abortion wherever a woman seeks one, automatically fell. A similar motion asking Sinn Féin to maintain the status quo - where abortion is allowed only when the mother's life is at risk - also lapsed.
However delegates adopted a separate motion calling for the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, which equates the lives of the mother and unborn child and which restricts the circumstances under which abortion is permissible.
Mary Lou McDonald said that allowing women and couples, whose unborn children suffered from fatal fetal abnormality, was the "republican" thing to do. “For me, the decent thing, the right thing, the republican thing to do is to support the motion 122 and afford those women, their partners and their families the dignity and small measure of comfort that choice represents for them,” she said.
She added those women and couples should be shown compassion and care, "but above all, choice".
The discussion on abortion was among the most widely-debated issue at the two-day conference in Derry's Millennium Forum.
One delegate from Cork said unborn children suffering from fatal fetal abnormalities deserved to be allowed to live for as long as their conditions allowed.
Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín, who was disciplined for failing to vote with his party in favor of proposed X case legislation in 2012, indicated earlier in the day that he would not be voting in favor of the motion.
After the motion was carried, the party's health spokesman Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said; “I welcome the passing of this motion. It provides certainty and clarity in terms of Sinn Féin's position.
“The motion recognizes the gravity and complexity of fatal fetal abnormality which requires great compassion.
“It also highlights the difficulties women face who are forced to travel abroad to access services because the law prevents women with fatal fetal pregnancies to access legal abortion in Ireland, both North and South."
The passage of this resolution by the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis removes any confusion or doubt that people may have had about the party’s official position on the issue of abortion. They are a pro-abortion party and anybody who acts on behalf of the party is required to abide by the their official position. They will argue that it only applies in certain cases, but they have,in fact, taken the first step down the slippery slope to “abortion on demand”. This is a sad day, indeed, for Catholic Irish republicans.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Simple Solution to an Old Problem

Since Irish Central first published a story about Kevin Westley’s mission to buy up stereotyping Irish t-shirts from Walmart in the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day and return them March 18, the Long Island, NY Irish dance instructor and radio host has been overwhelmed by the response.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would get this big of a reaction,” he said during a catch up phone call.
The initial interview with Kevin, published on Thursday, has received almost 8,000 shares and over 200 comments. His story was picked up by ABC and FOX news, and a camera crew from CBS paid a visit to his home. He also has a series of interviews lined up with radio programs in Ireland for Monday morning.
This marks the second year that Westley has taken a stand against the sea of green t-shirts that appear in stores before St. Patrick’s Day, stereotyping the Irish as drunks and linking Irishness to alcoholism.
Fed up with a lack of response from the Walmart stores and the corporate channels he complained to, Westley decided to take matters into his own hands – buying as many of the t-shirts as he could carry, keeping them in boxes and the trunk of his car and, per Walmart’s exchange policy, returning them all on March 18.
He had two aims in sharing his story. “My first goal was to get the t-shirts off the shelves, the second was to get people talking about this.
“At least people can now read the story and make their own decision – is this guy just a retired nut who has too much time on his hands or is he concerned about stereotypes?”
Westley takes the issue very seriously, recalling an uncle who died of cirrhosis and the stories his grandfather told about the “No Irish Need Apply” signs he saw growing up in Boston. “It’s nothing to make fun of,” he said.
Unlike last year, Westley said, he has received a lot of positive feedback, with people from New York on down to Florida saying they're going to do the same thing.
But there have been naysayers and detractors, people saying things like “I hope they charge you for re-shelving” or “I hope they don’ t take [the t-shirts] back.”
“Why act like that about it?” Kevin asked. “Why can’t we just have an intelligent, polite conversation?."
He has also heard from the manager of a local Walmart in connection with one of the complaints he had lodged, though the phone call wasn’t entirely productive.
 “When I stated to explain everything to his fellow he didn’t seem to have a clue what I was walking about. ‘What shirts do you mean?’ he asked, etc. I said ‘you may not see them there because I have them all in the trunk of my car but you'll see them on March 18 when I return them!’”
Westley said that he is unconcerned about Walmart changing its return policy in light of the publicity his campaign has received.
“They can't do it retroactively, they have the 90-day return policy printed on their receipts and on signs above the customer service desk,” he said. “The shorts have not been worn and the tags will be on them when I bring them back.”
Still, he added, “my wife keeps looking at me saying you're on the hook for $400 dollars if they don’t.”
My hat is off to this Brother Hibernian who has come up with this simple solution to a problem that has been a concern to us for years. There have been many brothers who have made attempts to solve this problem by writing threatening letters to business people who manufacture and sell these offensive items. This approach has met with limited success at best. Suggestions to boycott businesses that sell these items have also met with limited success. The reason is simple, as long as there is money to be made these methods simply don’t work. Congratulations to this Brother who has come up with this very simple, no cost, and very effective solution to a long standing problem.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Obama has no backup plan on immigratio

Brian Hughes | February 21, 2015

Critics say Obama lacks both the legislative and political means to deal with challenges to his executive order.

President Obama, who has hammered Republicans repeatedly for lacking an alternative to his most controversial policies, now finds himself in a similar predicament: He has no plan B if the courts invalidate his executive action on immigration.

The White House is now putting all its efforts into getting an emergency stay on a Texas federal judge’s order temporarily blocking Obama’s unilateral push to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Obama wants his immigration plan to proceed while judges weigh a broader appeal by his administration to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, which upended a centerpiece of his second-term agenda.

Beyond those legal maneuverings, however, the White House has no fallback plan for how to move past a possible legal defeat that may be coming, according to court observers.

Multiple White House officials were unable to provide the Washington Examiner with a contingency strategy for how they would grant the type of deportation relief long demanded by immigration activists if the courts block Obama's current blueprint.

And one element of the president's proposed reforms was to ensure that our enforcement activities were focused on felons and not on families. We believe that these efforts should be focused on rounding up and deporting individuals that have a criminal history.”

But as long as Obama’s executive action remains stuck in legal limbo, the administration cannot issue work permits to undocumented immigrants banking on new protections from the federal government. Even more problematic, an unsuccessful appeal could kill those efforts altogether.

Obama would then undoubtedly struggle to answer a simple question: What’s next?

It’s an unwelcome twist of fate for a White House that has mocked Republicans for supposedly lacking ideas beyond repealing Obamacare and rolling back the president’s immigration power play.
To date, the White House narrative has been that Republicans have nothing to offer other than obstructionism and red meat for the conservative base. The natural counter now from GOPers is that Obama is only offering a legally-suspect executive action.

Obama faces a similar liability as the Supreme Court prepares to examine the constitutionality of Obamacare subsidies for individuals purchasing health plans through federal marketplaces.
On both immigration and healthcare, the White House insists that the onus is on Republicans to provide an alternative because so-called benefits would be taken away from Americans.

But critics say that Obama is now paying the price for lacking either a legislative strategy or the political capital to move an immigration bill through both chambers of Congress.

“This is what happens when you basically ignore the legislative branch,” a House GOP leadership aide told the Examiner. “He has nothing to fall back on. It’s not like he can make a new legislative push on immigration. The way this is playing out right now is the White House’s worst nightmare.”
Such complaints extended beyond conservative circles.
This is why the president should have done more on immigration in his first term,” said a veteran immigrant-rights advocate who has met numerous times with White House officials. “This could be a really lengthy legal battle. If we lose, we’re toast — he doesn’t have enough time left to do something major.”

Some progressives argue that Obama should have acted on immigration when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress during his first two years in office. However, the president expended all of his political capital on the passage of Obamacare, leaving immigration on the back burner for years.

To be clear, Obama’s supporters insist they’ll prevail in a judicial challenge to the Hanen injunction. The Justice Department is expected to file its requested stay by Monday.
Still, those sympathetic to Obama acknowledge very real legal hurdles, particularly on the broader appeal to the ruling from the South Texas court. Most troublingly for Obama’s cause, the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, which will hear the challenge, is made up primarily of conservative judges.

In addition to his legal troubles, Obama has a new messaging problem that could undermine his attempts to paint Republicans as the do-nothing party.

“Until they start wanting to walk and not just talk, we’re going to keep offering the American people something better,” Obama said of Republicans at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting on Friday.

Republicans were quick to issue a retort, thanks in large part to Obama’s judicial setback.
“Pretty soon, all he could have left on immigration and Obamacare is talk,” said the House GOP leadership aide. “And does anyone really believe he’s tried to ‘walk the walk’ on getting anything done with us?”


Obama’s challenge to stay the Texas federal judge’s ruling must be appealed to the 5th District Appellate Court in New Orleans. This court has a reputation for being one of the most conservative in the United States. The overwhelming opinion is that the court could very well uphold the ruling by the Texas judge. If so, any action on the President’s Executive Order could be held up for several months.

Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Boston Irish Group

Friday, February 20, 2015

Obama to hold immigration town hall meeting in Miami

Jesse Byrnes -  February 20, 2015
President Obama will hold a town-hall meeting next week in Miami to push back on a Texas judge's injunction that temporarily blocked his executive action on immigration.

Obama's Feb. 25 town hall, hosted by Telemundo and MSNBC host José Diaz-Balart, will give the president a chance to show that immigration reform remains a priority, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday on Diaz-Balart's show.
The president maintains that the law is on his side in the court fight over immigration. Administration officials say his November action to defer deportations and offer work visas was well within his prosecutorial discretion.

Republicans have seized on the Texas ruling as evidence that the president overstepped his powers.

It's unclear how the judge's move will impact the fight in the Senate over funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the primary agency charged with carrying out Obama's actions. DHS funding is set to run out on Feb. 28, and Democrats have blocked Republican legislation that would provide funding while rolling back Obama's executive actions.

The White House said Tuesday that it was weighing its response to the Texas injunction, including potentially asking another court to nullify the decision.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen filed a temporary injunction against Obama's executive actions Monday, after Texas and 25 other states sued the administration. In response, the DHS suspended plans to accept new applications for the expanded deferral and visa programs.

Earnest reiterated Friday that the White House was "not surprised" by the court's decision, noting that Hanen has previously been critical of Obama's actions.

The televised event will give the president a platform to reach those in the Hispanic community across the country, Earnest said, as well as those in Miami.
Is there anybody on this planet who seriously believes that Obama’s executive order was meant to benefit immigrants of all ethnicities? If so, this article should put that belief to rest. His interest in this issue is clearly “ethnically specific” and is meant to primarily benefit undocumented Hispanic immigrants.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Boston Irish Group