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    CIIC responds to Taoiseach’s comments on US reform

    By Noreen Bowden | March 31, 2008

     Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers in the United States has joined other US-based immigrant groups in criticising Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s recent comments about US immigration reform. The organisation is calling for the Irish government to continue its efforts to secure reform measures to benefit the undocumented Irish, who are reported to number between 20,000 to 50,000 among the twelve million undocumented in the US.

    The press statement in full:

    The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers joined others in expressing frustration that there is no resolution in sight for undocumented immigrants in the US.  The failure of comprehensive immigration reform last year and the rancorous debate that continues on this issue has left the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants more vulnerable that ever. The disappointment in Irish communities across the US is palpable after hearing the Taoiseach’s comments that indicate that the Irish Government has given up on any hope of reform that will benefit this segment of the Diaspora.

    The stereotype of committed Irish advocates as “sitting in bars and talking nonsense” is particularly offensive to all of us who have worked for years to improve the situation of Irish immigrants across the USA. Irish Centers provide a range of professional services to immigrants including immigration, employment, housing, and counseling. We are skilled professionals working hard to effect positive change and to dispel this characterization that has long plagued the Irish community at home and abroad.

    It is important to acknowledge the difficulty and complexity of the situation faced by immigrants who have lived here for many years. They left Ireland before the “Celtic Tiger”; they established themselves and built a life here. The option to uproot themselves and their families and return to Ireland is not realistic. Those who stay in the US are condemned to a life in the shadows, with few rights, as members of an underclass of 12 million undocumented immigrants. Those who go home, as the Taoiseach suggested, will set off a ten year bar which will affect them if they attempt to re-enter to visit family or to apply for any future legalization scheme.  Immigration centers are working to make sure that the undocumented immigrants understand their rights and responsibilities and to ensure that everyone is aware of the consequences of their choices.

    We cannot lose sight of the real problem, that the existing immigration system is broken. The Irish Government’s efforts to date to fashion a solution to this problem are much appreciated. The Coalition urges them to continue to work with groups in the US and to stand beside her citizens here to find a solution that is sensible and reasonable. The problem will not go away. Recent evidence from Irish centers indicates the opposite is true. New arrivals from Ireland are once again choosing the traditional path west to the USA. The last thing that we want to see is new generations of young undocumented immigrants joining those who came in the 1990’s.

    Last year the Irish community across the US united in their thousands under the banner of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. In spite of a massive effort comprehensive immigration reform legislation did not pass. The CIIC encourages everyone to continue be outraged at the treatment of our fellow citizens and to work together against the injustice of the current system. We urge the Irish Government to put their shoulder to the wheel and stay the negotiating table until we get a resolution that will allow undocumented immigrants and their families to live here without fear.

    Visit the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers’ website.

    Topics: Latest News, US, US immigration reform | Comments Off on CIIC responds to Taoiseach’s comments on US reform

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