Fine Gael Press Office
Senator Martin Conway
Friday, February 10th 2012
Conway hopeful on US Bill for undocumented Irish
Fine Gael Clare Senator, Martin Conway, has welcomed the news that progress is imminent on a Bill in the United States that would secure work visas for thousands of Irish nationals. Senator Conway added that the legislation would be a huge boost to many Co. Clare natives who are living undocumented in the US.
“There are strong indications that progress will be made shortly in securing E3 US work visa for thousands of Irish people in America. I was encouraged to learn that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, had discussions in Washington on immigration reform with Republican Senator Scott Brown. Mr Brown is a key supporter of the Bill which would see 10,500 Irish workers granted renewable visas.
“This will come as an enormous relief to Irish people living in America and their families here at home. I am one of the few Irish politicians who travelled to Washington in March 2007 to the Rally on Capitol Hill organised by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR). More than 3,000 undocumented Irish travelled from all over the United States, braving the freezing temperatures to take part in the event. A previous Bill offered huge hope to these people, but unfortunately it didn’t come to pass.
“I have great admiration for the work of Neill O’Dowd and Ciaran Staunton, who organised the 2007 Rally, and the many others involved in the ILIR who, in spite of many setbacks, have never faltered in their commitment to create a pathway to legalisation for tens of thousands of Irish people in America.
“I often speak to friends living illegally in the United States. They want to be legal. They want to pay their taxes. They want to participate in the society which they now call home. They are prepared to pay whatever fines are deemed appropriate once they know that they are on a path to legalisation. Many of the illegal Irish in America are now in long term relationships with families of their own, who want health insurance and all the other privileges that go with being a part of civilised society.
“Many of the undocumented Irish live in daily fear of being deported. They have not been home to visit their loved ones in Ireland for years. They’ve missed out on many family occasions, even funerals.
For their sake and the sake of their families, I hope that this latest attempt will succeed.”