Category: Archive

Editorial Plight of immigrants

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

With all the glowing coverage about Ireland’s booming Celtic Tiger economy, one could be forgiven for thinking that immigration was a thing of the past. Indeed, here in the U.S., the once heatedly debated topic of immigration reform has all but fallen from the radar screen.

The fact is, however, immigration remains very much a fact of life, with thousand of young people coming here every year, a large number of them from Northern Ireland. Many of them are younger and less well-educated than were their predecessors of the 1980s and early ’90s. This, coupled with a much harsher work environment, makes the adjustment to their new lives all the more trying.

Occasionally, the struggle to forge a new life plunges into desperation, a fact borne out in all its stark reality last year with the suicide of 23-year old Monaghan man Liam Mason. Exploited, robbed of his dignity, and with no place to turn, he hanged himself in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Mason should not have had to resort to such desperate measures. There are agencies to help Irish immigrants such as the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, the Aisling Irish Center in the Bronx, Irish Outreach of the Archdiocese of New York, as well as organizations in other cities, such as the Irish Immigration Center in Boston and the Immigration Resource Center in Philadelphia.

Now, in New York comes another outlet for immigrants to air their grievances and, more important, to seek solutions. In St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday, Cardinal John O’Connor announced details of a new initiative called the Commission on the Dignity of Immigrants. The commission will be staffed by volunteers from the New York City Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO with support from Catholic Charities Immigrant Services staff of the archdiocese.

That immigrants should be exploited in such bountiful times is a scandal. That those with the power to do something about it should chose to ignore it is even worse. That’s what makes the cardinal’s announcement mall the more laudable.

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