Category: Archive

Deal and bill

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

That there might be a result from the debate has been a matter of considerable discussion with various, something contradictory, answers. The latest sense is that a comprehensive reform bill will emerge from Congress before year’s end and head straight to the president’s office, hopefully for his approving signature.
The New York Times, in a recent editorial, took the optimistic view of current proceedings. It stated that Democrats were increasingly open to so-called “trigger” and “touchback” provisions in negotiations leading to a workable bill.
Triggers refer to border controls, while touchback is an expected requirement that would require undocumented or illegal immigrants to leave the U.S., return to his or her country of origin, and then return legally to the United States.
At that point the individual would presumably be allowed work without penalty, but would also have to go to the back of the line in terms of securing permanent legal status.
The likely problem for many undocumented Irish is that years already spent working and establishing roots in America would count for naught and that they would have to potentially live through many more for even the chance of a green card.
Such a scenario might not bother those who plan to just work in the U.S. for a few years, but for those harboring a genuine American dream in their minds this requirement could prove to be a heartbreaker.
Any agreed reform bill is likely to be a broad brush, not legislation suited or geared to any one national or ethnic group. This is understandable.
But that the Irish might want to consider their position separately to all other groups is also understandable.
Where such consideration could lead to positive change is in the context of a bilateral visa exchange deal between the U.S. and Ireland.
This would not be a gift for the Irish inasmuch as it would contain a reciprocal element. It would simply be a deal between two countries aimed at making it easier for the citizens of both to live and work in each jurisdiction. It would likely have an annual numbers cap applying equally to both signatories and it might have built in flexibilities to match changing circumstances.
A bilateral agreement is well within the realm of possibility. Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern has indicated that his government has the necessary room to cut a deal with Washington outside the remit of the European Union. As legislators in Congress gear up to wheel, deal and horse trade, it would a sensible idea for work to begin on a D.C./Dublin deal.
In the case of Ireland, obviously, such a move would have to contend with the upcoming general election and its outcome. But we sense that there is little daylight between the main Irish political parties when it comes to maintaining and indeed enhancing the links between Ireland, Irish America and the United States.
The U.S. already has bilateral visa deals with Australia, Chile and Singapore. There’s no overwhelming reason as to why Ireland, and by this we would hope the entire island, can’t be added to this group.

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