The foot soldiers of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform employed this method in reverse last week by knocking on congressional doors and disseminating their story, that being the plight of thousands of undocumented Irish whose situation roughly matches that of millions of other illegal immigrants from just about every country on earth.
It was a tough sell. Many of the members of the House of Representatives and Senate whose Capitol Hill offices were visited by ILIR members seem determined to close down the nation’s borders and evict millions of people, some of whom having lived here for the bulk of their lives.
The corridor walking and door knocking was a valid exercise in that it helped put faces on what some members of Congress would prefer to be an abstraction, that of an amorphous mass of foreign scofflaws.
Well meet your door-stepping foreign illegal immigrant! Her name is Mary. His name is Sean. They are young, energetic and cheerful despite the heat and they want to shake your hand.
The ILIR return to Washington was also a necessary and valuable exercise in that it raised the possibility of ILIR and other Irish immigrant advocates attending the House-sponsored “field” hearings into the bipartisan Senate reform bill.
The first such hearing is today in Philadelphia and ILIR has organized the now ubiquitous bus from Yonkers.
Former New York Assemblyman John Dearie argued at the post-lobbying rally in Washington that these field hearing amount to phony baloney exercises.
They sure look like it, but if they somehow get to hear all sides of the immigration issue they may yet serve an unintended positive purpose, hence the need for the Irish to turn up wherever possible.
Philadelphia is in ILIR’s back yard and the city has its own well-established Irish immigration advice network, one that was well represented on Capitol Hill last week.
But some of these hearings will be in more far-flung places. Yonkers to Yuma might sound like a stretch. But this is a trying time for souls, soles and tires too. So you never know.