Category: Archive

ILIR rallies in San Francisco

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

And with a turnout estimated at 1500, organizers were proclaiming the event a big boost for the campaign to secure comprehensive immigration reform.
The rally, on Thursday Feb. 1, was opened by Mayor Gavin Newsom, this despite the fact that he was facing the biggest crisis in his political career – the admission of having an affair with the wife of his campaign manager.
Newsom was presented with a “Legalize the Irish” t-shirt and immediately pulled it on, rolled up his sleeves and pledged his wholehearted energy and support for the reform campaign.
A City of Refuge for immigrants since 1989, San Francisco’s political
leaders strongly support changes in the country’s immigration laws.
Before the rally, Mayor Newsom and a rarely unanimous city Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in favor of comprehensive reform and support for the ILIR campaign.
Thin Lizzy’s anthem, “The Boys are back in Town,” set the backdrop for the Irish Center event with people crammed into every nook and cranny of the room.
Fr. Brendan McBride from the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center (IIPC) introduced State Assembly Member Fiona Ma, who cancelled a prior engagement in Sacramento to attend the ILIR event.
After donning a “Legalize the Irish” shirt, Ma thanked everyone for their attendance and pledged her commitment to immigration reform.
The chairman of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers, Bart Murphy
commented: “Contrary to the comments of some naysayers, the Irish are not
looking for a special deal in this campaign. We are leveraging our national
experience of over 200 years of immigration for the benefit of all immigrant
groups in the U.S. Like Thomas the Tank, we just happen to be the useful
engine of this particular train.”
Speaker after speaker reiterated the need for reform. ILIR vice chairman, Ciaran Staunton said: “We’re all in this together. We’re taking this battle to Congress on behalf of all immigrants. No matter where you came from – Guatalama or Gort, Mayo or Mexico, Tralee or Tegucigalpa – we’re all immigrants and we’re all in this together. When you attack one immigrant community, you attack us all.”
“Every one of you wearing your Legalize the Irish t-shirt tonight represents every immigrant in this country,” said ILIR executive director, Kelly Fincham.
Speaking of the history of Irish immigration to America, Angus McCarthy,
Immigrant Rights Commissioner in San Francisco said: “I was a beneficiary in
the late 80s and I am very grateful for the work that was done at that
time. We Irish don’t pull the ladder up behind us. It is important to
continue the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ireland.”
The standing room only crowd heard a ringing endorsement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by way of her immigration spokeswoman, Harriet Ishimoto.
Ishimoto said the Speaker considered immigration reform a priority, that it could not succeed without ILIR’s efforts, and that she was looking forward to seeing ILIR at the national immigration reform lobby day in Washington, D.C. on March 7.
About 150 people representing the Irish community in San Francisco are expected to travel to the nation’s capital for that event.

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