Sunday, November 25, 2007

GAA Chair points the way in New York

The New York Ladies GAA team took on the TG4 Underdogs in Gaelic Park in New York on Saturday and we believe the home team ran the visitors close to lose by just two points in the Underdogs series.

The NY Ladies then hosted a huge dinner dance where 500 or so people heard chairperson Nollaig Cleary congratulate the teams on their achievement.

Nollaig pointed out that the Ladies would not be able to send a team to Ireland to play in the Underdogs series because so few of them can travel.

She also urged the Irish Government to get off its posterior and help legalise the Irish.

We've spoken to some of the girls on the teams and they said they're not going to move back to Ireland because, "there's nothing there for us."

The hard truth of the matter is they're right. We can see the shuttered construction sites; we can see the job losses being reported nearly every day now. Tough and all as it is being undocumented in the US, it's going to be a lot tougher being on the dole in Ireland.

Why doesn't the Government understand this? They're supposed to be cleverer than us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Letters to the Editor in the Irish Times

Immigration reform in the US is a complex and politicallypoisonous issue. No comprehensive solution has been proposed thatwould resolve the plight of millions of illegal immigrants.
In a political system that thrives on special interests and with norelief in sight for any undocumented immigrants, why shouldn't theIrish lobby for an agreement based on their historical and ongoingcontribution to the United States?

Trina Vargo's opposition on moral grounds to efforts to legalise theIrish smacks of elitism. The strong cultural, economic and financialties that now exist between Ireland and the US were built on the backsof labourers who came here over many years. The new Ireland has led toan influx of educated Irish professionals to the US but there are manyIrish who didn't reap the benefits of the Celtic Tiger and for whomAmerica represents a better life. Her ill-judged comments demonstrateher abject unfamiliarity with all the realities of the Irish inAmerica and the Irish American world that exists outside ofphilanthropic boardrooms.

- Yours, etc,
MARY McEVOY, Yonkers, New York, USA.

I am a 39-year-old, second-generation Irish American and I aman ardent supporter of a deal for all illegal immigrants living inthis great nation. Trina Vargo's article in The Irish Timesis terriblyflawed from an economic and political standpoint. The fact that shehas worked for Senator Kennedy leads me to believe she has a fairlygood understanding of how politics influence legislation in the UnitedStates. If, in fact, a "small" group of Irish-Americans can influenceCongress to pass legislation for illegal Irish immigrants, she wouldbe a fool not to think that similar legislation for illegal Mexicanimmigrants would soon follow. There has to be a "jumping-off point";someone or some group has to blaze the trail so that all may follow.This great country was created by people who were not afraid to go outand blaze trails so that others might benefit.

As for her glowing economic analysis of Ireland and the "CelticTiger", she has conveniently exposed herself as an advocate ofsocialism. I find no mention of Ireland's oppressive tax rates,economically depressed traditional industries and a socialised healthcare system that is a complete failure. Canadian citizens, alsovictims of socialised medicine, enter the United States daily for MRIsand other tests that they would have to wait months for back home.

I suggest she reads Milton Friedman's classic book Freedom to Choose,because essentially all illegal immigrants want is the freedom tochoose. My grandparents came to this country from Ireland seeking abetter life and they were met with: "No Irish need apply". Who are weto repeat those words to the Irish immigrants or any other immigrantsin the year 2007? History and God will judge us poorly if we continueto force hard working, honest people to live in the shadows of freedomthat so many of us take for granted.

- Yours, etc,
EDWARD NELSON, Long Beach, New York, USA.

I am rather disturbed to hear that Trina Vargo, formerKennedy adviser, is so against legalising illegal Irish immigrants inthe US. I know many of the Irish here with young American children whoare leaving the US in droves.

They are replaced by Asians, many of them Muslims, whom US securitythen spends years monitoring. While legalising the Irish may beselective it amazes me that, with 50 million US citizens of Irishdescent, the Irish Government seems so powerless to help the diaspora.Israel, with only about 5 million, does not seem to have any problemwith legalising foreign Jews, but then the Jews stick together, whilethe Irish are so divided.

Many middle-class Irish here in the US who despise the undocumentedIrish forget the fact that many of them got in the back door, oftenillegally, in the past. But that was pre-9/11, of course.

- Yours,etc,
Fr BRENDAN DUGGAN, St Mary's Church, Woodside, New York, USA.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Illegal Irish are a long way from galas and golf

Tue, Nov 20, 2007

Trina Vargo should stick to Hollywood galas and stop insulting Irish illegal migrants to the US who are trying to regularise their positions, argues Niall O'Dowd

Trina Vargo, who is head of the US-Ireland Alliance, wrote in a recent Irish Times article (Irish illegals not a special case, Opinion, November 16th) that advocates for the undocumented Irish in America should wait for comprehensive immigration reform rather than try and remedy their situation now.

She implied that Irish-American and Irish Government lobbying for green cards for their community and citizens was racist.

She said current efforts to pass legislation helping the Irish were "morally wrong" and were like putting "lipstick on that pig".

Those were deeply offensive remarks to those tens of thousands of Irish abroad whose futures, and in many cases that of their American-born children, are hanging in the balance.

The US-Ireland Alliance busies itself with an annual Hollywood gala, selling Ryder Cup executive boxes and sending well-heeled Americans, both elite college students and golfers, to Ireland.

Their president's intervention on this issue is puzzling. Making "moral" judgments on undocumented immigrants and their supporters is hardly the expressed aim of the alliance. It appears that board members were not consulted on this grand new project.

In the same edition of The Irish Times, Frank Sharry, executive director of the US National Immigration Forum and one of the most respected experts on the issue, said that a decade may pass before a comprehensive Bill even comes up for consideration so toxic has the issue become in US politics.

Unlike Vargo, Sharry said he was "supportive" of efforts to help the Irish undocumented now with a bilateral deal, but predicted a tough battle in the current climate. Yet it is the only route left, with comprehensive reform a mirage shimmering somewhere over the horizon.

Vargo knows this well, but is essentially telling the Irish undocumented they are "morally wrong" to pursue their own interests.

Luckily she was not around during the era of the Morrison and Donnelly visas which allowed an earlier generation to live freely in America after the Irish in America put together a major lobbying effort.

Those Bills also helped large numbers of immigrants from other countries who piggybacked on the Irish success.

This time around Vargo describes us as a "small group of Irish-Americans". We are anything but. Every major Irish organisation in the US bar the US-Ireland Alliance has signed up in full support of the efforts of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR).

The organisation itself now has over 17,000 members from coast to coast, and brought crowds of over 3,000 to Washington on three separate occasions last year. No other Irish organisation in recent memory has attracted such crowds.

Of course, undocumented Irish are not like the polished Mitchell scholars that the US-Ireland Alliance sends to Ireland every year. They tend to be nannies, waitresses, bartenders, construction workers, many of whom left Ireland before the Celtic Tiger.

They are decent people caught in an indecent situation. They are an inconvenient truth for people like Vargo who is secure with $20 million of Irish taxpayer funding and who prefers to mouth Celtic Tiger platitudes to friends in high places rather than worry about unwashed undocumented.

Yet those of us who have come from Ireland know differently, know the ebb and flow of Irish history, and know that as inevitably as night follows day a boom will be followed by a bust and the trail to America will open up again as it has for successive generations since the Famine.

There is an overwhelming need to try to settle the issue of undocumented Irish in the US for once and for all now before another generation begins to come.

There are already signs. At the recent US-Ireland Forum, Orla Kelleher, head of the Aisling Center in New York, reported a sharp increase in new immigrants coming for assistance to the centre in the past few months. That coincides with a weakening in the Irish economy.

The Irish Government and the Irish-American community are doing the best job possible in very difficult circumstances to deal with the issue.

Both the Government and ILIR agreed to work with each other and a number of other ethnic groups, including Hispanic and Asian, to have a comprehensive reform Bill passed. When that failed it was agreed that an effort to pass a bilateral deal would be made.

In that respect, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has made repeated trips to try to secure such a deal. Recently the Dáil voted unanimously to try and secure passage of such a Bill.

As a former Senate staffer Vargo knows only too well that all US legislation, especially immigration law, is loaded with "special deals" that take account of bare-faced politics.

It is not such a dreadful sin, as Vargo would have us believe, for Irish-America to take cognisance of that fact. Chile, Singapore, Nicaragua and Australia are just some of the countries who have cut deals for themselves in recent years. I applaud those countries for their foresight.

Far from preventing others immigrate, a bilateral deal may well show how, in this current toxic atmosphere, the issue of undocumented can be dealt with in a creative way by different countries.

Vargo concludes her comments by stating "it is wrong for the Irish to suggest that 'no Mexican need apply'."

No Irish have ever stated such a thing to my knowledge, and to infer it is downright insulting. Perhaps she might consider sticking to Mitchell scholarships, golf tournaments and Hollywood galas.

Niall O'Dowd is founder and chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform

© 2007 The Irish Times

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Perils in ignoring Irish in shadows

Finally, an article in an Irish newspaper that expresses the real facts about our friends and families in the US, and written by someone who actually understands the plight of the undocumented Irish in the US! It explains the vital role they play over there and what an important role the will play in the future of Ireland.
Read it here.
Hopefully, Bertie read the Indo today and will get the message load and clear!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

We love Michael Ring!

The people of Mayo are lucky to have Michael Ring in their corner. The TD went on the 1 o'clock news today on RTE to take on this woman called Trina Vargo who has come out against the Irish undocumented. (Click here to see the piece)

Interestingly, Mr Ring says that not only is her organization, the US-Ireland Alliance, part-funded by the Irish taxpayer, she also supported the Irish undocumented last year.

If you are as incensed by this woman as we are, please email the letters editor of the Irish Times. If you're in the US, tell them how long you've been there. If you've a friend or family in the US, tell them how long they've been away. the email address is If you need some inspiration, look at the great post here from Susan.

This is pure shite, this stuff about jobs for everyone in Ireland. If Ms Vargo took her head out of her **** she might take a look at our Irish undocumented and then she might take a look at the counties that they came from. There's feck all jobs in some places - as she would know if she actually went to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale and actually MET some real Irish immigrants.

Irish illegals not a special case - Trina Vargo

From the Irish Times, Fri, Nov 16, 2007

Irish-Americans trying to get a special deal only for Irish illegal migrants in the US are wrong, argues Trina Vargo

A small group of Irish-Americans is working to encourage the US Congress to carve out a special deal for illegal Irish immigrants, while leaving behind the millions of others in the same situation. They are wrong to single out one group for preferential treatment.

The US immigration system needs fixing, but it requires a comprehensive and united approach. The deportation of 12 million people is clearly not possible, and pragmatism favours efforts to create an earned path to citizenship for those in the US illegally. Sadly, that effort has been stalled.

But to support a special deal that would single out illegal Irish immigrants for preferential treatment would be morally wrong, could harm the US-Ireland relationship, damage the high regard in which Irish-Americans are held, and lead to a divisive debate in the US between the Hispanic community and the Irish-American community.

The Irish economy is strong, and a special deal is not justified on economic grounds. The majority of those attending the rallies for the illegal Irish immigrants are young people, people who came to the United States when jobs were plentiful at home.

These are not people who fled extreme economic hardship, political persecution, physical torture, or an undemocratic government. Jobs are so plentiful in Ireland that in recent years, Government officials have travelled to the US to urge the Irish to return home. It is to be celebrated that Ireland is now a country of wealth, prosperity and opportunity. Now one of the richest countries in the world, it is a not a place anyone has to leave.

Supporters of a special deal for the Irish say there is precedent, that this was done for Australia. What they neglect to point out is that those visas had nothing to do with illegal immigrants. They were about trade agreements and facilitating the movement of professionals to the US. They were temporary visas subject to stringent eligibility requirements. The visas were only available to those with specific professional skills and for specific jobs pursuant to trade agreements.

There is also talk of trying to mask a "special deal" by cloaking it in innocuous immigration provisions but this is just an attempt to, as they say on Wall Street, "put lipstick on that pig".

There are other ways for the Irish to come to the US. Those advocating a special deal for the Irish argue that the Irish don't qualify under most of the existing schemes. In fact, they do. The lobby for the illegal Irish immigrants complains that, in 2005, of 1.2 million people getting green cards the Irish got only 2,000. Yet Spain, with 10 times the population of Ireland, received fewer green cards. Portugal, with two and a half times the population, also received fewer green cards.

Ireland is a country of little more than four million people. Proportionate to population, the UK, Italy, Germany, and France all did less well than the Irish. And of Irish citizens who recently applied in Ireland for any kind of visa to the US, less than 3 per cent were refused.

The overall numbers of Irish coming to the US have decreased because fewer Irish wish to move here. It is difficult to know exactly how many illegal Irish immigrants are in the United States. Some have suggested between 20,000 and 60,000 but that's a guess and these calculations do not take into account the many thousands of Irish who have returned to Ireland in the last several years. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that the Irish sport of hurling is dying in the US because there are too few Irishmen to play it because "the strong Irish economy is keeping people from emigrating or drawing them back home". It noted that there were 128,000 Irish-born residents of the US in 2005, whereas there were 156,000 in 2000. In 1980, there had been about 290,000.

The success of the Irish economy is a good thing. It is understandable that most people prefer to live in their home countries. Those who came to the US during the Famine and even as late as the 1980s mainly did so out of economic necessity. The Irish economy experienced unprecedented levels of growth in recent years and the success of the Irish economy has benefited America as well. Ireland is now one of the largest foreign investors in the US. Irish companies are now in over 1,300 locations throughout the 50 US states employing 74,600. Ireland ranked fifth in a recent survey of real estate investors in the US. The relationship is indeed vibrant.

I fear, however, that if the future of the US-Ireland relationship rests on Irish immigration, the relationship will falter. Those who care about the relationship should note and expand upon the business and cultural ties, academic and student exchanges, as well as legal immigration. The constant flow of citizens between our two countries is a positive thing that should be nurtured. But given the success of the Irish economy, the future of the US- Ireland relationship will be based more on innovation, imagination, cultivation, and communication, than on immigration. This is to be embraced.

I am very aware of the incalculable contributions the Irish have made, and will continue to make, to America. I am fully supportive of legalising the Irish, but along with everyone else, not at the expense of anyone else. Many Irish remember that their ancestors who arrived in America in the 19th century were greeted with discrimination and were told "no Irish need apply".

It would be wrong for the Irish now to suggest that "no Mexican need apply".

Trina Vargo is the founder and president of the US-Ireland Alliance

© 2007 The Irish Times

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kenny and Ahern clash on radio

Here's a good clip from RTE radio on the day that we rallied outside the Dail. News at One was interviewing Enda Kenny - who said that Dermot Ahern was being less than energetic - when the Minister called in. A bit of a row developed on-air as Enda Kenny more or less asked the Minister to stop waffling and get on with it. We couldn't agree more. Lads! Stop talking about doing something and please get out there and do something!!!

Friends and Families on RTE

This is the clip from Questions and Answers on Monday night. Doesn't look as if the government plans on doing much, does it?

Taoiseach silent on undocumented Irish one week after agreeing Dáil motion – Ring

Fine Gael National Press Office Press Release Disappointment as no action from Taoiseach on US visit

Fine Gael Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Spokesperson, Michael Ring TD, has said that the Fianna Fail Government appeared to have abandoned the undocumented Irish in the US just one week after agreeing to a cross-party Dáil motion supporting a bilateral agreement between Ireland and the States.

"Today in the Dáil I asked the Taoiseach why we still had not heard about plans for an urgent visit by him to the USA in order to progress a bilateral agreement between Ireland and the States. This follows the Government's acceptance of Fine Gael proposals on this only last week, leading to an agreed motion which attracted the support of the entire Dáil.

"The Taoiseach obviously doesn't have much respect for the Dáil or much care for the undocumented Irish since he chose to not even respond to my question and remained silent when it was put to him again by the Fine Gael Leader.

"I have stressed that this issue is at a critical juncture and that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs must urgently travel to the States to try and close this deal. With no action one week after they signed up their support for a bilateral agreement, I must conclude that they were only paying lip service to the undocumented Irish and lack the will to back it up."

Welcome to the 33rd County!

Hi there. This is the first posting from the friends and families of the undocumented here in Ireland. We've put this together in a hurry because we feel that time is running out. The time is now, An Taoiseach. We need your help badly on this.