Obama to push immigration overhaul
By New York Times | November 14, 2009
NEW YORK - The Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants as it pushes early next year for legislation to overhaul the immigration system, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday. In her first major speech on the overhaul, Napolitano dispelled any suggestion that the administration would postpone the most contentious piece of immigration legislation until after elections next November.
Laying out the administration’s bottom line, Napolitano said officials will argue for a “three-legged stool’’: tougher enforcement laws against illegal immigrants and employers who hire them, a streamlined system for legal immigration, and a “tough and fair pathway to earned legal status. ’’Speaking at the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group in Washington, Napolitano unveiled a double-barrel argument for a legalization program, saying it would enhance national security and, as the economy climbs out of recession, protect American workers from unfair competition from lower-paid, easily exploited illegal immigrants. Under the administration’s plan, illegal immigrants who hope to gain legal status would have to register, pay fines and all taxes they owe, pass a criminal background check, and learn English.
Assuming that the timeframe in Secretary Napolitano’s statement above is etched in stone, the time has come for the Ancient Order of Hibernians to “fish or cut bait”. If our National Board plans to take a leadership role in the upcoming immigration reform campaign, it would be very advisable for the National Chairman of Immigration to start “burning the midnight oil” and begin learning some of the intricacies of the current laws and how to achieve the necessary changes in them. Of course, the other option is always available and that would be to step aside and allow other immigrant advocacy groups to spearhead the campaign and be satisfied for the A.O.H. to play a secondary role. That would be a drastic change from our long standing policy of being the national leader in lobbying for the passage of immigration legislation that directly affects Irish immigrants especially those currently living in the United States in an undocumented status. Our National Constitution requires us “to work with other groups to secure a fair and equitable U.S. immigration policy for Ireland”. That simply means that we will work in conjunction with other groups to achieve a common goal.
Under no circumstances, should we ever lose our autonomy as the pre-eminent Irish American organization in the U.S. working on behalf of Irish immigrants.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America