But a leading member of the eight-member “co-del” group who is also a key point person in the House of Representatives when it comes to immigration reform, Rep. Nydia Velasquez, apparently ruled out any bilateral deal between Dublin and Washington specifically on behalf of the undocumented Irish in America.
The Irish Times reported Tuesday that “Ireland has no chance of reaching a bi-lateral deal with the United States to deal with undocumented Irish living illegally there.”
The assessment was attributed to Rep. Velasquez, a Democrat from New York. Velasquez said that an immigration reform bill would first have to be crafted in the Senate before being considered by the House of Representatives.
A bilateral visa deal has been discussed and debated for some time although it is generally understood that it would not specifically be focused on the undocumented Irish whose main hope for relief still centers on a comprehensive reform bill out of Congress.
Rather, the bilateral idea is primarily focused on future migration between Ireland and the U.S. and indeed between the U.S. and Ireland.
The House delegation, which will hold meetings in Dublin, Belfast and London, is being headed by Friends of Ireland chairman, Rep. Richard Neal from Massachusetts.
At a press conference in Dublin, Neal said he understood the anguish of undocumented Irish who could not even return to Ireland for the funerals of loved ones, this due to the three and ten year barring rules.
He acknowledged that under current U.S. immigration law, his Irish grandparents would have been unable to come to America.
Despite the seeming put down from Rep. Velasquez, attorney and Emerald Isle Immigration Center chairman Brian O’Dwyer, who is also in Ireland this week, told the Echo that Rep. Neal had scored something of a coup by bringing Velasquez and Rep. Luiz Gutierrez on the Irish visit.
“This is not your ordinary co-del visit to Ireland,” said O’Dwyer, who added that it was critically important that such influential Hispanic political leaders hear of the situation facing the undocumented Irish directly from the Irish government.
In addition to Neal, Velasquez and Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, the delegation includes Democratic reps. Jerry Costello, also Illinois, Mike Doyle and Tim Holden from Pennsylvania, Donald Payne from New Jersey and Tim Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania.