By Ray O’Hanlon
What was a mere trickle is now bordering on drought. The number of successful Irish applicants this year for 2002 Schumer visas has fallen to a mere 146 individuals.
That number is a combination 135 winners from the Republic of Ireland and 11 from Northern Ireland.
This year’s total is down from last year’s 263 and 637 in 1999, a figure that itself was dismissed as paltry by Irish immigrant advocates at the time.
"It’s very disappointing. We had thousands of inquiries about the Schumer visas and such a low figure awarded is only going to mean many more undocumented Irish," said Anne Marie Scanlon, deputy executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York.
The apparent recent growth in the number of undocumented Irish is certain to lend added urgency to the efforts in Congress to revive immigration provision 245i, which allows the undocumented to seek legal status while remaining in the U.S.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
Two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and one in the Senate are seeking to do just that.
Rep. Peter King, co-author of one of the House bills, said he expected Speaker J. Dennis Hastert to move a 245i bill in the next few days and that President Bush would likely sign reconciled legislation around mid-June.
Bush has already signaled his support for a revived 245i in a letter to congressional leaders, including Hastert.
At the same time, opposition to even a temporary revival has emerged in the House and is being led by Colorado GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo.
King, meanwhile, said that he is anticipating a new 245i extension lasting about four months from the day that the president signs a bill. 245i first expired in 1998 but was revived for four months by President Clinton late last year only to expire again on April 30.