Category: Archive

245i before Senate as

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

245i, the immigration provision that allows the undocumented to seek legalization while remaining in the U.S., was marked up last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Senate version of the 245i measure, co-sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy and Chuck Hagel, was previously approved by the House of Representatives.

Backers hope that the full Senate will vote on the measure before it goes into the summer recess at the end of this week.

"We’re hoping there will be a vote as soon as possible," said Mike Buttry, spokesman for Sen. Hagel, a Nebraska Republican.

The Hagel/Kennedy bill proposes an extension of 245i until April 30 of next year. The provision expired April 30 of this year after it was revived for four months from December by the outgoing Clinton administration.

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President Bush is in favor of a 245i extension, a move that would allow eligible undocumented immigrants to avoid the three and ten year bans that kick in under current U.S. immigration law when an individual returns to his or her country of origin in order to apply for permanent status.

The matter of permanent status has been raised to new prominence in recent days by signals from the Bush administration that it is considering potential new measures that would allow many undocumented immigrants apply for legal status.

The idea was first floated in the context of illegal Mexican immigrants. By some estimates, there are three million illegal Mexicans in the U.S.

The administration, under fire for showing favoritism, subsequently extended the possibility of potential new legalization to all national categories or, as President Bush put it, "we’ll consider all folks here."

The Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York welcomed the administration’s ideas for granting legal residency to Mexican workers but, in a statement, said that any legislation passed by Congress would have to be based on "nationally-blind standards."

The EIIC said that a broader legalization program should be viewed as an important first step in reforming "an antiquated immigration system that fails to meet the needs of U.S. employers and frustrates the efforts of those who seek to legitimately enter the U.S."

The EIIC added that a limited legalization program would simply be a "band aid" solution to a system that was chronically ill equipped to manage and control U.S. immigration.

"The reality is that efforts to control illegal immigration have failed. There are more undocumented immigrants today than when Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986," the EIIC statement said.

Last week, the New York Times published a table that estimated the numbers of undocumented immigrants from various countries including Ireland. The figures were drawn from Immigration and Naturalization Service figures dating back to 1996 and listed 30,000 as the total for undocumented Irish in the U.S. at that time.

Irish immigration advocacy groups contend that the true figure for undocumented Irish today is likely higher than the earlier INS estimates, this despite the economic pull of the so-called Celtic Tiger.

Advocates argue that many Irish who have returned to Ireland in recent years were legally resident in the U.S. while many undocumented have remained out of fear of being barred from the U.S. under present punitive immigration laws.

In the meantime, advocates say, many young Irish are still arriving in the U.S. with the likelihood of becoming undocumented over time. And many of these, it has been stressed, are very young, often no more than 17 or 18 years of age.

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