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Newsbriefs Immigration bill battles continues on Capitol Hill

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Section 245i, the immigration provision that allows undocumented immigrants to seek legal status while remaining in the U.S., is at the center of a battle this week between President Clinton and Congress.

The provision, which was allowed expire by Congress a couple of years ago, was revived earlier this year by a number of congressional Democrats, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Kennedy has been attempting in recent days to have the clause inserted into the Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations bill, but this effort has been strongly opposed by GOP leaders.

President Clinton, who has indicated his support for a revival of 245i, is now threatening to veto the bill because it does not include 245i and a number of other measures.

The absence of 245i from immigration legislation places the undocumented in a Catch 22 situation. Without it, they must first leave the U.S. in order to seek legal status.

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But by leaving, most undocumented face bans from the U.S. of either three or ten years depending on the length of time they have stayed in the U.S. illegally.

Congress helps Project Children

Project Children, the U.S.-based charity that offers vacations to Catholic and Protestant children from Northern Ireland, is to receive $250,000 in federal aid.

The aid package was pushed through the House of Representatives as part of the $14.9 billion Foreign Aid Appropriations Bill by Reps. Joe Crowley and Nita Lowey. It was approved by a wide margin in the Senate and President Clinton is expected to sign.

Crowley said that he was pleased that he and Lowey had convinced the House of Representatives of the good work undertaken by Project Children.

The organization was founded by Denis Mulcahy, a County Cork native who is a detective with the New York Police Department Bomb Squad. Mulcahy was the Irish Echo’s Person Of The Year in 1998.

Whoever wins must know

The U.S.-Ireland Alliance wants the next president, whoever he is, to know that Irish issues count.

The organization, which promotes greater understanding between Ireland and the U.S. by way of the George Mitchell Scholarship program, is seeking people to sign a pre-election letter for the next president.

A blank space where the president’s name would normally be will only be filled in after next week’s election.

The letter urges the next president to maintain the high level of involvement in the peace process that has been a characteristic of the Clinton White House.

The letter takes the view that the Good Friday agreement and the power-sharing assembly are only a beginning.

"Much remains to be done to achieve the truly lasting peace so overwhelmingly desired by the people of both Ireland and Northern Ireland," the letter states.

A number of senators and representative from both sides of the aisle in Congress have already indicated that they will sign the letter.

The letter can be read in full on the internet and signatures added by filling in the form at www.us-irelandalliance.org. Those interested in signing can also write or fax the US-Ireland Alliance, providing name, address and a note indicating that they wish their signature be added to the letter.

The Alliance can be contacted at 1747 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20007 or by fax at (202) 785-6687.

Clinton urged on deportees

Reps. Bob Menendez and Joe Crowley have written President Clinton urging a resolution in the case of seven Irish nationals in the U.S. who are facing deportation.

The letter, co-signed by a dozen members of the House of Representatives from both parties, asks Clinton to resolve the cases before he leaves office in January.

"Now, with your administration in its final months and the peace process on tenuous ground, many in the Irish-American community feel it is time to reach an accommodation for these individuals and their families and allow them remain in the United States," the letter states.

The seven deportees named in the letter are Noel Gaynor, Gerald McDade, Robert McErlean, Gabriel Megahey, Matthew Morrison, Brian Pearson and Malachy McAllister.

All except McAllister are in a position in which deportation proceedings against them have been temporarily suspended. McAllister was recently ordered deported by an immigration judge, but that decision is under appeal.

O’Dwyer gets his Way

The late Paul O’Dwyer didn’t always get his way during his political career. But the one-time City Council President and lifelong activist will be getting at least part of his way this week.

The City Council Tuesday passed a resolution that will rename a portion of Duane Street in downtown Manhattan as "Paul O’Dwyer Way."

O’Dwyer & Bernstien, the Mayo native’s law firm, is located on Duane Street opposite the federal building.

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