Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Key week shaping up for passage of E3 visa bill for Irish in US Senate

Senator Scott Brown delighted with indications of Irish community support

Niall O’Dowd – IrishCentral - February 26, 2012,

The E3s would allow 10,500 Irish citizens a year to come to America on renewable temporary two year work visas.

Next week is shaping up as a major one for the prospects for immigration reform and the E3 visas for Irish citizens.

The E3s would allow 10,500 Irish citizens a year to come to America on renewable two year work visas. Australia already has such a deal, while 20 other countries also have reciprocal visa programs with the US but not Ireland.

The key figure on the Republican side, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, is said to have been buoyed by the massively positive reception he got from a large Irish Boston audience when he met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny recently when the Irish leader was in Boston.

Brown is in an intense battle with the Democrats to hold on to his seat and the Irish American vote is a critical constituency.

At a reception for the prime minister, Irish community leaders made clear to Brown their appreciation of his work on behalf of the new visa program. Brown’s bill is currently before the senate awaiting action.

A similar bill by Senator Charles Schumer of New York on the Democratic side has gained the support of 53 senators.

This week work to bring together the two bills is expected to gather pace. The hope is that a bill can be agreed in both House and Senate by the St. Patrick’s season, when President Barack Obama will host a White House reception for Enda Kenny.

Supporters believe there is a real chance that the legislation can pass through the senate on a unanimous consent basis. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to have made clear to Irish officials that he does not intend to hold it up if he has the votes.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the republican who has held up the bill and a companion bill for hi-tech skill visas is said to be in negotiations with Senator Brown about a compromise.

Meanwhile Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform President Ciaran Staunton was in San Antonio, Texas where he addressed the Irish American community there.

He stressed the importance of reaching out to Texas senator John Cornyn and San Antonio US representative Lamar Smith who is a key figure on immigration in the US House.


It looks like the ILIR have lost their way which is clearly spelled out in the mission statement below taken from their own web page. Is it any wonder that there is widespread anger in the undocumented Irish community? They have been thrown under the bus in order to pass a piece of “feel good legislation” that does absolutely nothing to solve their very unenviable immigration status.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

ABOUT US: The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) is fighting for the voice of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the immigration debate.

ILIR was set up in December 2005 and since then we have held several immigration rallies throughout the US and have also held two high-profile lobby days in Congress to lobby for our undocumented Irish workers.

A Wee Reminder

There is no reference in the mission statement above to “a half a loaf is better than none” or settling for the “crumbs from somebody else’s table”. Back then it was a clear cut case of all or nothing. “Legalize the Irish” was emblazoned on several banners and hundreds of T-shirts and it referred to our undocumented Irish nationals who proudly carried those banners and wore those T-shirts in hopes of making a difference in their lives.

The question remains nearly seven years later. What has happened to all the promises made by politicians who agreed to work diligently to fix our broken immigration system and bring our undocumented Irish nationals in from the cold? The fact that nothing has changed from that day to this that would allow them to adjust their status is a classic example of, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions and broken promises”. We can and we must do better. E-3 temporary work permits are not good enough!!!

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