On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish-American organization strongly urged the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) joined hundreds of Latino, Asian, labor, business, religious, human rights and other organizations that keep pushing for a reform in 2013.
“There is a great history of migration between our countries,” noted Bart Murphy, ILIR chairman. “The continuation of that success story is dependent upon fixing a broken immigration system for those in the US and ensuring a long-term and sustainable future flow of migration.”
In a statement, Murphy’s group expressed support for President Obama and the so-called “Gang of Eight” senators currently hacking out immigration reform legislation in Washington. The ILIR also backed general proposals for the regularization of the status of undocumented persons in the country, and called for encouraging a “culture of compliance” with the immigration system.
Although Irish migration to this side of the Atlantic has a very long history, the Immigration Act of 1965 led to a sharp decline in the number of Irish immigrants reaching these shores, due to the official shift away from country quotas to family and job criteria in granting residency, the ILIR stated. Of approximately 10.5 million US permanent resident visas issued between 2002 and 2011, only 15,000 were awarded to Irish nationals, the seven-year-old immigrant advocacy organization added.
The ILIR estimates 50,000 undocumented Irish reside in the U.S., with the number expected to rise as “tens of thousands of young Irish” seek out opportunities abroad that don’t exist at home. The Emerald Isle has been one of the hardest hit countries in the recent world economic crisis.
“Many undocumented Irish migrants are already paying taxes and making social security contributions,” the ILIR declared. “All are keen to regularize their immigration situation and to contribute as best they can to US society, as previous generations of Irish migrants have likewise done.”
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Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico