Irish delegation pushes immigration reform on Capitol Hill

Chances are 50-50 that comprehensive immigration reform could happen


Image of the Statue of Liberty crying held up by a protester at Capitol Hill. Irish politicians visit US Government officials to lobby for Immigration Reform

Image of the Statue of Liberty crying  held up by a protester at Capitol Hill. Irish politicians visit US Government  officials to lobby for Immigration Reform
Chairman Pat Breen is leading a delegation of the  Joint Oireachtas (Irish parliament) Committee on Foreign  Affairs and Trade on a  visit to Washington D.C. today. The group is holding a series of  meetings with  influential members of Congress in the hope of  encouraging comprehensive immigration  reform in the U.S.

According to the Irish Embassy in Washington, the  Irish Ambassador to the United States Anne  Anderson will also accompany the delegation at each of their high levels  meetings with predominantly Republican Congress members.

Breen told the Irish Voice: “It’s an opportunity to  lobby our U.S. counterparts to garner bipartisan support for the immigration  reform legislation.

“We’re targeting Republican  Congress members because at the moment there is a high degree of uncertainty  among them as regards their capacity to engage in immigration issues,” Breen  added.

“This is why we’ve assembled a strong team from the  Irish parliament to go out, a cross party delegation from the foreign affairs  committee, because we feel we want to target the key players here.”

The cross party delegation includes Deputies Sean  Crowe (Sinn Fein), Gerald Nash (Labour) and Senator Mark Daly (Fianna Fail) as  well as Chairman Breen (Fine Gael).

Breen says he’s well aware of the positive impact  the reform of U.S. immigration laws could have on the tens of thousands of Irish  men and women who are currently in the country undocumented.

“We will have a broad discussion with many of the  U.S. Irish lobby groups like the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR)  before we have a meeting with Congress members on Wednesday. They will fill us  in on the feeling out there at the moment. What I’m hearing is there is a window  of opportunity. We have to grasp that opportunity.”

The delegation have scheduled a series of meetings  with key figures from the House of Representatives including Congressman Paul  Ryan, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Congressman Trey Gowdy, Immigration  Sub-Committee Chair Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Immigration Subcommittee Member  Congressman Mark Amodei, Immigration Subcommittee Member Congressman Jim Jordan,  Immigration Subcommittee Member Congressman Mick Mulvaney, Congressman Peter  King, Congressman Richard Neal, and Friends of Ireland Caucus Congressman Chris  Smith.

“One of the major players is Paul Ryan, who has  indicated his support for immigration reform. We will make a strong case about  why immigration reform is so important for Ireland.”

The Irish delegation hopes that it can persuade the  predominantly Republican members of Congress to support legislation to legalize  the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish and create a new E3 visa to allow 10,500  Irish to work legally in the country every year.

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