The meeting was hosted by the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center.
The bill introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain would allow people to change status within the U.S., provide a path to permanent residency and provide a legal path for future immigrants.
Speakers at the meeting, chaired by the Rev. Brendan McBride of the Pastoral Center, included: Joe Hackett, first secretary and press officer from the Irish Consulate in Washington, Kelly Fincham, executive
director of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform recently formed in New York, local businessman Angus McCarthy, immigration attorneys Jim Byrne and Susanna Bogue, and attorney Bart Murphy, who was involved
in the Irish Immigration Reform Movement in the late 1980s
Representatives from Seattle and San Diego Irish communities attended the event.
Two New York-based undocumented immigrants from
Ireland introduced as Samantha and Mary also addressed the audience.
Samantha, who has a degree in psychology, works as a bartender and Mary holds a degree in nursing and is licensed to practice in New York, but is, as she put it, “unable to fulfill her dream” because of her status. She added that her grandmother was born in the U.S. in 1900.
McCarthy, who arrived in San Francisco in 1984, was the recipient of a visa under the Donnelly program urged those in attendance to not only to lobby local politicians, but to also have family and friends in
Ireland put pressure on politicians there to support their efforts for immigration reform. “When Bertie Ahern comes here in March for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and meets with President George Bush his ears should be ringing from all the phone calls from family and friends of those in the U.S. who need relief from the immigration nightmare of being undocumented,” McCarthy said.
All the speakers urged those in attendance to call, fax or write to their senators and local representatives. Both California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne
Feinstein live in the Bay area and Feinstein
serves on the judiciary committee which will hold hearings on the Kennedy/McCain legislation.
The Pastoral Center will also be sending representatives to Washington on Wednesday, March 8, to join other ILIR groups from around the country
for a day of lobbying representatives on Capitol Hill. Bay area residents interested in traveling to Washington can call Celine at the Pastoral Center: (415) 752-6006.