Category: Archive

Ahern’s capital visit attracts critical eye

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Not surprisingly, this is now attracting some U.S. press attention.
Ahern was in Washington. D.C. last week where, among other things, he discussed the prospects for reform with Senator Edward Kennedy, co-sponsor of a bill that has been loudly supported by both houses of the Irish parliament.
Meanwhile, a new lobby group intended to secure reform on behalf of thousands of is set to start work. The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform will outline its intent and ambition at a public meeting Friday in a Manhattan hotel.
The meeting between Ahern and Kennedy focused on the McCain/Kennedy reform bill, one of a bundle of proposals now before Congress.
The bill includes a possible path to legalization for millions of undocumented and an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 Irish.
“Americans deserve better than the broken immigration system that we have in this country. But so far all we’ve heard from President Bush is talk and no action,” Kennedy said at the meeting with Ahern.
“It’s time for a new and comprehensive strategy, like the plan that Senator McCain and I propose to secure our borders, strengthen our economy, and respect our history as a nation of immigrants,” Kennedy said.
“It is time to show that America can be both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws,” Kennedy added.
In a story headlined “Ireland backs U.S. legalizing illegal aliens,” the conservative-leaning Washington Times reported that the Irish government wanted the U.S. to “legalize Irish illegal aliens in the United States.”
The paper covered the Ahern/Kennedy and reported Ahern’s sentiments in support of McCain/Kennedy.
“We do support it completely and on an all-party basis, and I want to tease out with him [Kennedy] how he sees this matter progressing, particularly given the recent developments, not least the speech by President Bush,” Ahern was reported as saying.
The paper also reported Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies as stating that illegal Irish immigration was very small.
“And government estimates shows that it’s trivial, well less than a hundredth of a percent, and the estimate shows it’s falling,” Camarota told the paper.
He added that it didn’t make sense that Ireland would take a position in the immigration reform debate.
A spokesman for Senator John Cornyn, co-sponsor of the main rival bill to McCain/Kennedy in the Senate, said that the Irish endorsement of McCain/Kennedy would not affect a debate that could spring to life any time after the Senate Judiciary Committee deals with the Judge Alito Supreme Court nomination.
A hearing on that is set for Jan. 9.
“We are a lot more concerned about what the people in Texas have to say, frankly,” the Cornyn spokesman said.
The Times report noted that “even as Ireland pushes for looser U.S. immigration laws, it has been doing the opposite at home, passing laws aimed at combating illegal immigration, increasing the number of deportations and ending birthright citizenship for anyone born on its soil.”
Meanwhile, the ILIR inaugural meeting is set for Friday, Dec. 9, at the Clinton Room in the Affinia Hotel, 31st. St. and Sixth Ave. at 7.30 p.m. The main speakers will be former congressman Bruce Morrison and Esther Olivarria, Sen. Kennedy’s General Counsel on Immigration.

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