Category: Archive

Visa doubts

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

And as was the case two weeks ago, the confusion arose as a result of statements by politicians in Ireland reported in Irish newspapers.
Two weeks ago it was a statement attributed to visiting U.S. rep. Nydia Velasquez reported in the Irish Times.
The latest kerfuffle has arisen as a result of a story in the Irish Examiner under the headline: “Government hopes of landing a special working visa deal with the U.S. have been dashed.”
The paper reported that Irish foreign affairs minister Miche_l Martin, who has been “seeking a bilateral arrangement under which Irish emigrants to the U.S. could have secured long-term working visas, known as E3s, and vice-versa,” had conceded under questioning from Labor Party TD Michael D Higgins that there was “little chance” of an E3 visa deal similar to that in operation between the U.S. and Australia.
“While the inclusion of Ireland in an expanded version of the E3 program would provide extensive new opportunities for Irish people to work in the U.S. and help ensure that a new generation of undocumented Irish does not develop, our friends on Capitol Hill have been clear that the status of the undocumented Irish cannot be addressed in isolation from other ethnic groups,” the Examiner reported Martin as saying.
The report added that Martin and the government remained hopeful of a solution to the overall problem (of the undocumented Irish) given that the White House was focused on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.
“It’s a welcome development that they are going to look at the overall issue,” the paper reported a Martin spokesman as saying.
“It will take longer [than getting an E3 deal], but there’s an opportunity there.”
While Irish immigration reform advocates, not least the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, have been highlighting hopes for both an E3-like deal, and comprehensive immigration reform, the two concepts exist on separate tracks.
An E3 deal would not likely have any beneficial effect for those Irish currently living as undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Rather, it is seen as being mainly a means to ensure access to the U.S. for future Irish immigrants wanting to settle legally in the U.S. for a period of time that could be renewed.
Comprehensive immigration reform is an entirely different matter.
Hopes for progress on the politically vexing issue rose in recent days with Senator Charles Schumer, who chairs the Senate immigration subcommittee, stating that he expects to have a reform bill in place by Labor Day.
Schumer has indicated that any reform that would allow for a path to legality for the undocumented and illegal already in the country will also contain provisions that will make it even more difficult for people in the future who try to live in the country while out of status.
As such, reform could be a two-edged sword. It could bring relief to the currently undocumented Irish, but make it even more imperative that future generations of Irish can avail of a visa program that would leave them other than sidelined in the worldwide rush to America’s doors.
Such a program would likely not be too far removed from the now reportedly elusive E3 scheme.

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