Fine Gael Clare Senator, Martin Conway welcomed the passage in the US Senate yesterday of an immigration reform bill, which he said represents the most monumental overhaul of U.S. immigration laws in a generation.
“I am delighted that this Bill received such broad support which culminated in the strong 68-to-32 vote in the often polarized Senate. The bill will now proceed to the Republican-led House of Representatives, where it is likely to meet with some resistance.
“For the 55,000 undocumented Irish living in the US, I hope this Senate action will put pressure on the House of Representatives and lay the foundation for comprehensive immigration reform and, ultimately, citizenship for the thousands of Irish living in legal limbo.
“In addition to dealing with citizenship, this bill also covers the J1 non-immigration summer work visa used by thousands of Irish students each year. The Bill provides for the reduction of the proposed $500 fee to $100, which is seen a major victory for the Irish American lobby in the US and will ensure the continued popularity of the J1 programme.
“Having marched in solidarity at a rally for the undocumented Irish in Washington in 2007, I realised that too often we, as politicians, speak of ‘the undocumented’ as if they are an anonymous group of people. But here in Ireland, and especially in Clare, the plight of the undocumented Irish is a constant reality for so many families, who are suffering greatly at being separated for too long.
“I know how much this reform would benefit and enhance the day to day lives of immigrants and their families and I hope the members of the House of Representatives take cognisance of the hardship suffered by the undocumented Irish and all concerned make a huge effort to ensure that this reform becomes a reality.”