Rather, the growing crisis surrounding immigration, both its regulation and proposed reform of the laws governing it, are to be discussed by the members of the D_il in Dublin.
The debate, which is expected to result in an all-party D_il motion – effectively an Irish version on a non-binding “Sense of Congress” resolution – is slated for Thursday.
The debate comes after months of clearly stepped up interest on the part of Irish elected representatives in the reform issue, and growing concern in Ireland generally over the daily perils facing the undocumented Irish population in the United States, most of whom are fearful of returning to Ireland under any circumstances because the trip would in all likelihood be one way.
The undocumented Irish population, according to an Irish government estimate, is currently in the region of 25,000.
The U.S. government leans closer to 5,000 while some Irish politicians and U.S.-based immigrant activists put the figure as high as 50,000.
The opportunity to debate the reform issue was welcomed by Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern.
Ahern was recently in New York where he announced a large increase in the amount of money that the Irish government provides annually to Irish immigration advice centers around the U.S.
Ahern was the instigator of the D_il debate having presented a draft motion expressing supports for the bipartisan Kennedy/McCain immigration reform bill, one of two front running bills currently before Congress.
Representatives from the main Irish political parties have been leaning towards Kennedy/McCain as a preferred legislative option because it allows the undocumented to apply in the short term for temporary status while remaining in the U.S.
Kennedy/McCain also provides for a possible path to full legal status in the long term.
“We know about the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States. An all-party D_il motion would voice the support of the Irish people, through their elected representatives, for the positive approach to this important issue proposed by Senator Kennedy and Senator McCain,” Ahern said in a statement.
“I believe the issue of undocumented Irish people in the United States is of the highest concern to the government and to the Oireachtas,” Ahern added.
The D_il debate comes on the heels of recent talks in Washington between John McCain and a delegation of visiting Irish parliamentarians led by the Ceann Comhairle, or speaker of the D_il, Rory O’Hanlon.
While the reform issue is being debated in Dublin, the Kennedy/McCain bill and its main rival for congressional attention, the Cornyn/Kyl bill, are still awaiting consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Washington sources suggest that there is a possible window for committee discussion of both measures before attention turns fully to President Bush’s second Supreme Court nominee.
Barring that, said one source, it would come down to the number of days that Congress remains in session before the end of year.
Another source was of the view that full-scale debate of immigration reform might not now take place until the new year.