Category: Archive

Boston meeting suggests reform push

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Consul General Michael Lonergan was responding to questions from the floor at a town hall meeting last week in Quincy which heard complaints that police were being overly zealous in their approach to Irish “overstays.”
Lonergan cautioned that any solution to the issue of the Irish undocumented would have to come from Congress.
“The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform made a huge contribution,” he said, “but ultimately this issue can only be sorted on Capitol Hill.”
Chris Lavery, chair of the Irish Pastoral Center, which hosted the meeting, echoed this view.
“We have to encourage our congressmen and women to really push for reform,” he said.
“We will have to organize phone banks to drive home the message to our representatives that the undocumented Irish are not criminals and not a threat to the U.S.
“The last time we were effective, but the process failed. Now that we know legislation is coming down the pipe, we need to be more effective,” he said.
Sheila Gleeson, head of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers, said comprehensive immigration reform legislation sponsored by Congressman Luis Gutierrez was likely to be brought forward “early in the new year.”
“Last time, the pro-immigrant calls weren’t as numerous as the negative calls. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen this time,” Gleeson said.
Former national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Jack Meehan, said the “dynamic, motivated grassroots” campaign for the Irish undocumented of the eighties needed to be revived.
He said those who had benefited from the Donnelly and Morrison visas which flowed from that campaign were “morally bound” to help today’s undocumented.
“Can reform be passed again? Absolutely. But we need a broad alliance and it will be a tough job,” said Meehan.

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