The forecast, with an all too familiar historical ring to it, comes from Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute which has stated in a report that Ireland will this year experience a recession for the first time since 1983.
This will have a knock-on effect, even with projected growth rates, of a return to net emigration from Ireland, a phenomenon that was not only banished during the peak “Celtic Tiger” years, but one that was in fact reversed.
The ESRI projects that the outflow of people from Ireland will reach 20,000 in 2009, a level of net emigration not seen since 1990, a time when the undocumented Irish population in the U.S. was reaching peak levels.
The gloomy outlook from the ESRI, which published its findings in its latest quarterly report, comes a year after the last big effort to reform U.S. immigration law collapsed in Congress.
Comprehensive immigration reform hit a wall on Capitol Hill at the end of June, 2007 as critics from both right and left pulled the rug from under a measure that gave hope to millions of illegals and undocumented, thousands of Irish among them.
The collapse of the bill left little for reform advocates to grasp other than the widely expressed view that reform would return as an issue in 2009, after this year’s presidential and congressional elections.
If it does, it now looks as if the debate might have to take heed of a fresh influx of Irish who will end up becoming undocumented because legal migration to the U.S. is an extremely difficult proposition these days for anyone born on the island of Ireland.
A year ago, the reform bill, a bipartisan one primarily sponsored by Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy, was defeated in a 53-46 Senate vote, a ballot that decided against ending actual debate and effectively in favor of filibuster.
Supporters had needed 60 votes to secure cloture and move to a final up or down vote.
The failure in the Senate all but ensured that the House of Representatives would scrap its plans to debate a bill. And that is what happened.
Now, twelve months on, Senator McCain is battling for the presidency as the Republican candidate and placing far great emphasis on border security than internal immigration law reform.
Senator Kennedy is, as the world knows, battling cancer.
Meanwhile, against this backdrop of one battle lost and likely others now ahead, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform held a fundraiser this week in New York.
The event, at Bobby Van’s restaurant in midtown, attracted some familiar names and was intended to underwrite the group’s lobbying efforts in the coming months.
The ESRI report, and its predictions of thousands of Irish packing their bags, will now give that effort an enhanced sense of urgency.