Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Irish frozen out of a new green card bill in Congress

Will lose out to China, India, Philipines and Mexico

NIALL O'DOWD - December 7, 2011, 7:28 AM

A green card bill that will be a bonanza for Indian, Chinese, Latino and Filipino immigrants is making its way through Congress and has passed the House of Representatives.

It will have the impact of denying green cards to other countries, including Ireland,as a new quota will give more to the countries listed above.

This is from The New York Times last week: “The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that tweaks the visa system to allow more highly skilled immigrants from India and China to become legal permanent residents.

“The legislation also includes a measure that will more than double the green cards based on family ties available for Mexicans and Filipinos, the two national groups facing the longest backlogs on the family side of the system. It raises the country limit for 226,000 family green cards each year to 15 percent from the current seven percent.

“The bill seemed likely to pass easily in the Senate, said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, a leading Democrat on immigration.”

There you have it, for all those bleeding heart Irish individuals who have always said the Irish should never, ever seek to do a deal for their own immigrants.

Such people usually cite the Hispanics as the ones we must wait for in order to all win comprehensive immigration reform together.

One thing I’m certain of -- neither the Hispanics, the Filipinos or the Indians or Chinese were worried about Irish concerns when they went ahead and bent Congress to their will on this issue last week.

Funny, isn’t it, that many Irish adopt this respectful strategy of waiting for comprehensive while other countries know full well it is an utter pipe dream.

They get on with it and are proving successful as the above story makes abundantly clear.

Indeed, they will hit the number of Irish green cards available because Mexico and the Philippines have just carved up more visas for themselves, which will leave countries like Ireland with less.

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not blaming the various governments or lobbyists or politicians who put this together. More power to them, I say, if they can help their own people.

But I am criticizing those in the Irish American sphere who have long claimed that we, meaning the Irish, could never move on our own in case we offended some people.

Well, guess what? We Irish, with our own undocumented problem and thousands fleeing Ireland every month, just got “offended” by this – and it doesn’t matter a whit.

This is a done deal and the Irish are no part of it mainly because of a reluctance to even express our wishes.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois signed onto this bill after years of saying comprehensive only.

Gutierrez said, “We need bigger fixes to our legal immigration system so that employers and families use official channels, not black-market ones. We want people to go through the system, not around it.”

Yes indeed, we agree with the congressman on that score.

Schumer also thinks the aforementioned House bill is a good thing and I firmly believe it is as well -- if you are from one of those countries.

It is high time we woke up again to this reality, that without concerted pressure we will never get action on immigration.

It ultimately involves the Irish government and the Irish American community standing and working together.

So what are we waiting for?


They say that “politics make strange bedfellows”. For the past 30 years, Niall O’Dowd and I have labored in the vineyards on the issue of Irish immigration and in all that time we have usually had opposing points of view regarding how to resolve the issue. However, I would not only be remiss but also less than honest if I did not say that I am, for the most part, in agreement with his views expressed in the article above. The Irish immigration issue can and must be resolved if our cherished heritage is to survive in the chosen homeland of countless thousands of the Irish diaspora. It must begin with a permanent resolution to the plight of our undocumented Irish nationals from all 32 counties of Ireland. The next step would be to work on the passage of legislation that would guarantee an annual quota of legal Irish immigrants thus insuring the survival of our treasured Irish heritage in the greatest country on earth.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

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