Speaking after the unveiling of a memorial to the fighting 69th regiment in Ballymote, Co. Sligo, the mayor said that U.S. politicians must inject some common sense into the country’s immigration policies to continue to attract the “brightest and best Irish immigrants.”
Addressing a crowd that included several Irish TDs and celebrity Irish dancer Michael Flatley, Bloomberg said he was lobbying hard to increase the number of visas issued to newcomers and undocumented Irish people in the U.S.
“The histories of New York and Ireland have been so intertwined, I would expect that our economic relationships will continue to grow in the future even more so,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
“For that to happen, we need to convince the U.S. Congress to adopt a federal immigration policy that makes sense. It means significantly increasing the number of visas that we give to those who want to come to America and ensuring that those who are already in America have an opportunity to stay.”
“I know there are many Irish-born New Yorkers who are caught in the trap of our federal immigration policies,” he continued.
“If we’re going to continue to attract the brightest and the best to the United States, and Ireland has more than its fair share, we need to inject some common sense to our immigration laws and I’m doing my best to make that case.”
The memorial, which includes original steel beams from the World Trade Center towers, commemorates Irish immigrants who founded the 69th Regiment, which fought one of the bloodiest American Civil War battles on behalf of the Southern Confederate forces on September 13th, 1862 in Fredericksburg, Maryland.
Sligo native Michael Corcoran led the Regiment during the American Civil War, and members are currently serving in Iraq, where 19 have been killed, including 10 New Yorkers.
Anti-war protesters picketed the event in protest at Bloomberg’s support of for Israel’s attacks against Hezbollah in Lebanon.