Friday, February 26, 2010

Immigration reform is dead

Immigration reform is dead

Niall O’Dowd – Irish Central – Feb. 22, 2010

Comprehensive immigration reform for 2010 and beyond is dead. There, I've said it. It is time to concentrate on alternative strategies.

As the founder of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, a movement that took thousands of Irish to Capitol Hill to lobby for reform, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to say this.

I know first-hand of many Irish undocumented who live in fear that the knock on the door will come. They are very much in my thoughts as I write this.

But the math does not lie. There is no chance in hell that a filibuster-proof majority exists in the U.S. Senate for most anything right now, let alone immigration reform. The Senate is where American legislation goes to die.

It might be possible to squeak a bill by the House, but there are more than enough anti-reform votes in the Senate to block any hope of passage. That will not change.

For fifteen years or so, a great effort was undertaken to pass a comprehensive reform bill. It looked like the promised land when the Kennedy/McCain bill looked certain to gain passage in 2007, but a filibuster-proof majority never existed.

Now, there are even fewer votes despite a Democratic majority. It is time to ditch comprehensive reform and focus on parts of immigration reform that can pass.

The Dream Act is one, which would allow undocumented people who were brought here as children to become legal. It is cruel and unusual punishment to deport such people who, through no fault of their own, were brought here often as infants, and have known no other life.

Start by passing that, let's then look at what other areas we can address and adopt a piecemeal approach rather than a grand sweeping plan which has brought us nowhere.

The definition of madness is that we continue to do the same thing over and over hoping for a different result. It is time to stop the madness.

First, we must be honest and admit that there is no political future for comprehensive reform. Only then can we actually start to get legislation passed.


Over the years, I have had my share of differences of opinion with Niall O’Dowd but in this case I have to agree with him. Immigration Reform is Dead. We have both been very much involved in this issue for several years and it has always been an uphill battle. We have seen some successes most notably the Donnelly NP-5 and Morrison AA-1 Visa Programs, both of which were very advantageous for the Irish. But by and large there has always been strong opposition in Congress to a very necessary overhaul of our antiquated U.S. immigration system. The opposition has never been stronger than it is today with estimates of 12 –15 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The Congress has been, for all intents and purposes, totally engrossed in the health care issue since President Obama was elected. At a Health Care Summit, just yesterday, he suggested that both Houses take another four to six weeks to try to work out a solution. That means that every other issue on their agenda will be relegated to the “back burner”. To complicate matters further, mid term elections will take place in a few short months and members of Congress will be focusing their attention on their re-election campaigns. That leaves little or no time, not to mention the political will in Congress, for the immigration issue.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

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