Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stop History Repeating Itself

Any conversation I have with my peers these days always seems to revert to what we will be doing this time next year. Unfortunately 20 percent of us are currently unemployed, one third of us are considering immigration and over 60 percent of us fear that we may lose our jobs within the next few months.

Fourteen years ago, I am certain, my sister and her friends had the same conversations. She’s been in Manhattan for 14 years and could not be happier. My sister’s situation, and now the tough decisions that my generation has to face, are the very reason the immigration in the US must be reformed.

Over the last year the Irish have been arriving to the US in their droves. They are arriving looking for work, looking to make a life for themselves in the US where many generations of Irish before have been so successful. The fact remains that through history the Irish have travelled to the US and this is not going to change.

Though the unemployment figure in Ireland, for today, seems to show a tiny improvement, the fact still remains that three out of 10 young males are unemployed in Ireland. In total the figures show that over 12 percent or over 422,500 people have signed on the dole this month. So far this year 67,000 people in Ireland have been given redundancy packages in Ireland and more will inevitably come before the Christmas holidays.

This is the ‘Brain Drain’ all over again. An article in the Irish Times said it all this week as those who are planning to leave and have left Ireland told their stories The article’s depressing headline read “Ireland is a disaster….leave now and enjoy your life”.

All of this just illustrates how important it is that we continue to push forward with immigration reform in the US so that there is some kind of bilateral agreement and we are not condemning thousands of young Irish to become undocumented.

Work is certainly being done by our friends the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, who are quietly working away in the US. Last week Ciaran Staunton, President of ILIR, along with ILIR consultant, Bruce Morrison met with Republican leader, Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and South Carolina Ancient Order of Hibernian board member Jim Lawracy.

On our side of the Atlantic, Minister Michael Martin recently announced that the Irish Government has allocated a grant of €50,000 to the ILIR. He also attended a series of meetings in Washington and met with the ILIR on a recent visit. We need to keep this progression moving both for our friends and families in the US but for the next generation of Irish who will without doubt continue to travel to the US.

Please email or call your local politicians offices, thank them for their work thus far and encourage them to continue working for the Undocumented in the US. Perhaps you could tell your local politician about the member of your family or your friend who you will be missing this Christmas.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Minister to discuss undocumented in Washington

The Irish Times (

Martin to discuss illegal Irish in US

Wed, Oct 14, 2009

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin has this morning begun a four-day visit to the United States.

The Minister’s is in Washington this morning where he is due to deliver a keynote speech to the European Institute entitled “Equipping the EU for global challenges: an Irish view”.

Minister Martin will then travel to Capitol Hill where he will meet senior members of Congress including senators John McCain, Chris Dodd, Paul Kirk, Lindsey Graham, Bob Casey, Jeanne Shaheen and Congressman Richie Neal, chairman of the Friends of Ireland. Minister Martin will brief the senators on the outcome of the Lisbon referendum, the current situation in Northern Ireland, and the recent Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh.

The Minister will also raise the issue of the Irish undocumented in the United States and will be meeting with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR).

Minister Martin will tomorrow travel to New York for the inaugural meeting of the new Ireland-US Leadership Council. The grouping brings together leaders of the main Irish-American organisations with national reach in the business, community and cultural fields.

On Friday The Minister will address a business breakfast for 60-70 invited guests at Ireland House. Those invited include key clients of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, and key figures in the New York business world.

During his visit Minister Martin will also meet with the leaders of the main Irish community support centres in the US. He will host a reception at Ireland House in New York for local Irish community organizations. The Minister will also visit a project in Rockland County where the Irish Government has joined with the GAA in funding the development of the local sports grounds.

On Saturday Minister Martin will attend an interfaith service on Staten Island on Saturday 17th to commemorate those Irish famine emigrants who died while quarantined on arrival in New York and he will visit the Mission of our Lady of the Rosary to view their extensive archival records of Irish immigrants.
© 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Hope for Undocumented Irish

New hope for undocumented Irish as USCIS prepares for surge in visa applications
Agency says it needs to be ready to accept 10m applications in just a few weeks


Visa hope: USCIS is quietly preparing for expected upsurge in applications
Undocumented Irish immigrants have been given new reason to hope that immigration reform is on President Obama's agenda.

This follows a report in The New York Times that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency has quietly begun preparing for an expected upsurge in its workload.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of USCIS, says it is planning ahead for the possibility of comprehenive immigration reform.

Mayorkas says that President Obama has already told immigration officials that the White House proposal will include a legalization program and “We are under way to prepare for that.”
Recent estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center say there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

The USCIS is concerned that it would not be able to handle the expected flood of applications if a legalization program was approved.

For example, it currently processes some 6 million applications in 12 months and immigration experts believe the agency would need to be prepared to deal with some 10 million in the space of a few weeks.

Meanwhile, two Massachusetts police have pulled out of a program which authorized them to enforce federal immigration laws.

The police departments in Framingham and Barnstable have said the program was too costly and did nothing to help fight crime.

"It doesn’t benefit the Police Department to engage in deportation and immigration enforcement,’’ Framingham’s chief, Steven Carl, said. “We’re done. I told them to come get the computers.’’

Friday, April 24, 2009

Calling Our Friends and Families to ILIR Meetings

Obama has made a commitment to moving forward with the immigration issue and now it’s time for our friends and family to show their support for the cause and join with the Irish Lobby for Immigration reform once more.

For the past three years townhall meetings have been taking place across the United States to inform our undocumented friends and family on how the issue is progressing and also to let them ask the experts questions and voice their own concerns.

Once again, meetings will be taking place across the United States and we urge you to ask you friends and family to check the ILIR website ( for updates and attend these meetings.

It’s a time to celebrate how far we have come on this issue. As this article shows – “Irish undocumented welcome immigration move”

Yes We Can!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Obama to Push Immigration Bill as One Priority

The New York Times
April 9, 2009

While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Mr. Obama will frame the new effort — likely to rouse passions on all sides of the highly divisive issue — as “policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system,” said the official, Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House.

Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.

To read the full article click here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rebuilding Bridges with Our US Cousins

After a successful and positive celebration of St. Patrick’s Day it seems that everyone is singing from the same hymn book for the first time in a very long time.

Here’s just some of the coverage on Toaiseach Cowen’s visit to the White House, to visit his possible cousin President Obama -

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has begun a three-day visit to the US, which will culminate with a meeting with President Barack Obama to celebrate St Patrick's Day……

…The Taoiseach launched a major review yesterday of Ireland-US relations aimed at strengthening the economic and social ties between the two countries.

It is the first significant review of diplomatic relations with the US since the 1930s.
Given the economic difficulties that both Ireland and the US are experiencing, Mr Cowen believes now is the time to re-energise the critical relationship between the two countries.

The New York Times

In a speech Sunday night at the American Irish Historical Society on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Prime Minister Brian Cowen of Ireland said he would urge the Obama administration to expand visas for Irish workers and allow them to stay two years here instead of the current one.

And in a move to woo Irish-Americans, Mr. Cowen proposed measures to make it easier for Americans to claim Irish citizenship, reversing a restrictive course the Irish government took in 2005.

“The connections between Ireland and America remain strong,” Mr. Cowen said, “but we cannot take them for granted.”....

.....Mr. Cowen was cheered Sunday, at least in some quarters, for his proposal to ease naturalization by allowing Americans whose nearest Irish ancestor is a great-grandparent to qualify for citizenship, provided that they have spent considerable time studying or working in Ireland. Under current law, the most distant forebear an American could claim and still qualify for Irish citizenship is a grandparent....

The number of Americans with Irish ancestry has been estimated to be as high as 40 million, and millions of those people have no closer blood tie to Ireland than a great-grandparent.
The immigration proposal grew out of a “strategic review” of Irish-American relations Mr. Cowen ordered up last year, the first such review performed by the government since the 1930s, he said.

For Irish professionals looking to find work in the United States, Mr. Cowen, 49, who worked doing demolition in Midtown Manhattan on a summer off from college, said he hoped the American government would enact something like the E-3 visas it has offered to a set number Australians a year since 2005.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Many ILIR supporters will know Samantha Melia who electrified so many meetings in the U.S. with her take-no-prisoners attitude. And those of you who attended the Friends and Family rally in Dublin would have heard Samantha's father make an impassioned plea for his daughter and all the undocumented Irish in the U.S. For those of us who met both Samantha and her father, it was clear that the apple truly never falls far from the tree.

We are saddened to report that Samantha's father, Davey Meade, has passed away in Ireland. We extend our deepest condolences to Sam and her husband Liam and all of the Meade family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bi-Lateral USA-Ireland Visa Agreement Called For

The ever increasing dole queues in Ireland inevitably mean that there is a strong liklihood that many more young Irish people will be tempted to try their luck at finding a job across the water in the United States, thereby adding to the many thousands of undocumented Irish who are currently resident in the States.

The Westport born Vice President of the Irish Lobby for Emigration Reform Ciaran Staunton is currently in Ireland , as the organisation strive to find a solution to this long running problem.

Speaking today on Ocean fm, Ciaran Staunton said that now is the time for the Irish Government to push hard for the introduction of a bi lateral visa agreement along the lines of an agreement which the Australian government has in place with the American administration.


Is this country destined to repeat its mistake made over the past decades? Are we going to continue to encourage the young Irish to go and seek their fortune abroad, leaving their failing homeland with no structures in place so that they may return?

Will Ireland ever learn!.....Call your local politicians and ask them what they're doing for your friends and family in the US.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The New Start - A New Campaign

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) is gearing up for a new campaign on behalf of legal access for Irish immigrants to the US.

The ILIR will be returning to Washington next month for meetings with members of Congress who hold senior positions in the committees overseeing immigration reform.

Chairman Niall O'Dowd and Vice-Chairman Ciaran Staunton both attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington and held several meetings with key members of the new administration as well as the powerful Friends of Ireland in Congress.

They reported that there is a new consensus at both the Senate and House level to move forward on immigration reform over the next 12 months.

In addition, ILIR lobbyist Bruce Morrison and Irish American Democrats President Stella O'Leary have met with the Obama administration on the issue.

Immigration is already one of the key issues on the agenda for President Barack Obama and he has underlined that commitment by naming a number of seasoned immigration advocates to senior posts.

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano - who has spoken out in support of comprehensive immigration reform - will be the Secretary of Homeland Security. Her role will include overseeing the various immigration agencies that are part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Meanwhile, Cecilia Muñoz, our former colleague in the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been named to a top post in the White House itself. Ms Muñoz - a veteran immigration campaigner - has been named Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the White House. Ms. Muñoz was most recently vice-president at NCLR (National Council of La Raza), and was a long-time member of the National Immigration Forum's Board of Directors.

In addition, ILIR supporter Senator Hilary Clinton (D-NY) is the new Secretary of State, and Eric Holder, former Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton, will be Attorney General.

Meanwhile, the new Irish Intern Work and Travel Program is now operational. Irish college students or recent graduates can submit their applications now for visas that will allow them to live and work in the US for a year. Information on this program can be found at or at If you have any questions on the new working holiday visa in the US, please contact Peggy Comfrey, Director of International Programs, on (001)617-542-1900 ext. 14 or, or Ann Marie Byrne 617-542-7654 ext. 16 or

If you have any other queries, please contact the ILIR directly,

Warm regards
Kelly Fincham
Executive Director,
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform

Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Start - Hope

Yesterday "four Irish boys from the north side of Dublin" (U2, in case you hadn't heard) had the honour of welcoming Barak Obama to the stage at Washington. Tomorrow, we can only hope, that tomorrow marks the begining of a new chapter in the history of the United States, the World and the our friends and families, the undocumented in the United States.

At a time when it is becoming ever clearer that our friends and familes cannot hope to come home and support themselves in our country we can only hope that Barak Obama will see the sense in reforming the rules of immigration and allowing our tax paying, hard working friends and family to remain legally in the United States.

What we need to do is make sure that no one forgets who we are and what we want. It’s time to remind your politicians that they need to keep the pressure on and keep communication on this topic with the United States open.

Galway Bay FM news -
Galway MEP Lobbies Barak Obama on Undocumented Irish
Northwest MEP Sean O'Neachtain has written to Barack Obama urging him to legalise the undocumented Irish in America.

Keep it going! YES WE CAN!!!