Category: Archive

‘Hear’ we go

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The committee will convene Thursday morning on Capitol Hill and will focus its initial views on a revised draft of an earlier bill drawn up by Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the 18-member panel.
The aim of the hearing, which could extend beyond a single day, will be to mark up the Specter bill and pass it to the full Senate for a vote, possibly by the end of March.
The bill itself has prompted frowns and nods of approval from Irish reform advocates and at first glance comes across as being something of an eclectic hodge-podge of proposals aimed at tackling a growing immigration crisis made plain by the presence in the U.S. of millions of undocumented and illegal immigrants.
“It’s a bit schizophrenic,” commented New York-based immigration attorney Eamonn Dornan.
The Specter bill is frontloaded with border security proposals that seemingly draw directly from the House of Representatives bill crafted by Reps. Peter King and Jim Sensenbrenner.
However, it is in the final third of what is in excess of a 300-page document that the Specter bill addresses the crucial questions for an estimated 40,000 undocumented Irish.
In its current form the bill would make it a criminal offense to be illegal or undocumented, but it then offers possible relief in the form of a conditional non-immigrant work authorization that would allow travel in and out of the U.S. and does not have a time limit.
This program would be open to undocumented or illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. since before Jan. 4, 2004, the date on which President Bush delivered his first major post-9/11 speech on immigration.
A condition of qualification for work authorization would be agreement to settle back taxes with the IRS.
Significantly however, Specter’s bill does not include a path to so-called earned legalization as envisaged in the McCain/Kennedy reform bill.
The Specter bill does advocate an additional guest-worker program virtually identical to that favored by President Bush. It would mean a three-year temporary work visa renewable for a second three-year period.
Thursday’s hearing is the opening round in what promises to be a strenuous debate and observers caution that what eventually emerges from Congress could yet include an earned legalization amendment.
The reform debate is opening even as the public clamor mounts from interested parties including the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform which last week held the latest of its town hall meetings in San Francisco and is planning a bus cavalcade and lobby day in Washington, March 8.
Meanwhile, the Irish reform campaign is set to get a boost Sunday, March 5 at Gaelic Park in New York where a fundraising rally aided by the GAA will begin at 3 p.m. Admission is $20 and all proceeds will go to ILIR.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese