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.

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