Ray O'Hanlon - February 15th, 2012 – Irish Echo
The hoped-for Irish E-3 visa bill that Senator Scott Brown said last week was “about to pop” was still stalled on Capitol Hill this week with Iowa Senator Charles Grassley maintaining his hold on a measure that combines the proposals of Massachusetts Republican Brown, and New York Democrat, Senator Charles Schumer.
As such, the story has become a tale of two Chucks (Grassley and Schumer) with a Scott in the middle.
Sources were indicating this week that Grassley was effectively proposing to “eviscerate” the Irish E-3 proposal by merging it with an existing E-3 program open to Australians.
The Schumer Irish bill envisages 10,000 renewable E-3 visas on an annual basis for eligible Irish applicants. But according to sources, there would be precious few E-3s for the Irish under Grassley’s plan as virtually all the visas would be snapped up by Australians.
Backers of the Irish E-3 are now looking to Senator Brown, who has penned his own Irish E-3 measure, to persuade sufficient Republican colleagues in the Senate to reach a required 60 votes.
The Schumer version of the bill is supported by all 53 Democrats.
“He needs to get his side in order,” said a source, referring to Sen. Brown.
Last week, Brown told the Boston Herald that his E3 bill was “about to pop” on Capitol Hill with passage possible before week’s end.
“In Massachusetts we have such a strong demand for this because of our family and cultural ties. This is kind of a no-brainer,” Brown told the daily.
Brown’s bill actually proposes 10,500 Irish E-3s but leaves out any possible waiver for the undocumented Irish. In order to secure across the aisle agreement, Sen. Schumer removed a waiver provision from his bill, S.1983, in order to reach an accommodation with Brown and his GOP allies.
Brown told the Boston Herald that he was “trying to work” with Sen. Grassley to have him and other Republicans “step back” from their objections.
“We’re ready to pass it today,” Martin Brennan, state director for Senator Schumer, said of the combined Irish E-3 proposal.
Sen. Brown’s Bill never made any provision for our undocumented Irish nationals. Sen. Schumer folded as soon as there was any opposition at all to the visa waiver provision which was the only part of his bill that might have benefitted our undocumented friends, neighbors, and relatives. And very frankly, under the best of circumstances it would have only helped some, not all, of them. It is time to go back to the drawing board for those who profess to be working in the best interests of our undocumented Irish nationals. We started out to try to find a resolution to their plight. So far, our efforts have resulted in failure. We can and we must do better.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America