AOH Statement on Proposed E-3 Visa Programs
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is this week praising the emergence of not one, but two bills in Congress that promise E-3 renewable visas to Irish applicants.
In a statement, The order avoided placing itself in between the two bills, one offered by Senate Democrats, and the other by Senate Republicans, and instead focused on the reasons why Ireland should be the recipient of an E-3 visa deal, much in the way that Australia secured one a few years ago.
The statement, signed by National President Seamus Boyle, and Dan Dennehy, the order’s national immigration chairman, reiterated that since its inception 175 years ago, the AOH has been active in working to improve the lives of Irish immigrants.
The statement, which is reproduced here in its near entirety said: “Now celebrating our 175th year, we continue to live up to the preamble of the AOH Constitution which requires that we encourage an equitable U.S. Immigration law for Ireland, and to cooperate with all groups for a fair American immigration policy.
“In the 1960s, AOH members participated in an effort to prevent removal of the quota of Irish visas by the Immigration Act of 1965. Those concerns were proven as successive economic downturns have left many of the Irish without the option to emigrate legally to the U.S. In the last 25 years, AOH has worked with the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform, as well as many other organizations and government officials from the two nations, and elsewhere, to rectify the quota and restore the important cultural exchange between Ireland and the U.S.
“Current events and developments prove our understanding of the need to work with others to meet this goal. One of the great developments of the recent weeks was a videoconference and one week later a teleconference facilitated by the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers and the Irish embassy.
“In cities across the U.S., Irish immigration advocates, in many cases seeing and speaking live to each other for the first time, shared ideas on the recent moves by Congress.
“AOH, ILIR and Rep. Bruce Morrison, Boston Irish and Chicago Celts and several other advocacy groups outlined recent work towards an Irish E3 and concerns for the undocumented. We look forward to working with all of the groups towards a successful outcome.
“The second and more immediate development is the introduction of two bills that propose an Irish E3. The first bill was proposed by Senators Schumer, Leahy and Durbin and it was quickly followed by the Irish Immigration and Encouragement Act sponsored by Republican Senators Brown (MA) and Kirk (IL).
“While neither bill solves the undocumented issue, they do address future flow from Ireland. The bills would modify the E3 visa, currently available to only Australia and a few select countries. The modifications would recognize Ireland’s excellent education system and allows Irish Nationals with a ‘leaving cert’ or two years experience in a trade to apply for 10,500 two year renewable visas. We are grateful to the sponsors of both of these bills for their recognition of the longstanding inequities relating to immigration from Ireland.
“Right now, AOH members across the U.S. are meeting and reaching out to their U.S. representatives and senators as part of the initiative to secure “the Irish E3 Visa.” The AOH maintains that Ireland has been extremely supportive to U.S. Homeland Security and Defense with the Shannon Stopover of U.S. Troops coming and going from the War On Terror and the innovations of U.S. Customs and Immigration at Ireland’s Shannon and Dublin airports.
“We are asking Congress to thank Ireland with an E3 as it had Australia in 2005. In this way, with 10,500 annual renewable visas, a secure and legal path to immigration will be restored, preventing the need for Irish people to seek less desirable methods to escape the current economic hardships in Ireland and strengthen the bond between our two nations.”
Since the passage of the Donnelly NP-5 and Morrison AA-1 Visa Programs in the 1980's the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America have been strongly in favor and strongly in support of immigration reform legislation which would permanently resolve the plight of our undocumented Irish nationals currently residing in the U.S. Neither of the bills that were submitted recently by Senators Schumer and Brown do anything at all to address those problems. Furthermore, the E-3 Visa is a non-immigrant temporary visa (or more accurately a temporary work permit) which does not allow the holder to adjust his/her status to that of a permanent resident alien. It gives precedence to college graduates who have not yet emigrated here over our undocumented Irish who have been living here for years. Unless and until a bill is submitted that specifically addresses a permanent resolution to the plight of our relatives, friends, neighbors, and Brother Hibernians who are living here out of status, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America should not allow themselves to be fooled into supporting any bill such as those filed by Schumer and Brown that promise far less.
Yours in our Motto,
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America