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Preview: Voices from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform

News/ Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform

Updated: 2018-01-23T10:19:01.527-05:00


CNN feature on plight of undocumented Irish


CNN talks to ILIR founder Niall O'Dowd, Orla Kelleher from the Aisling Irish Center and "Bridget," in New York as part of a feature on the plight of the undocumented Irish. 

Former INS counsel at USCIS explains why immigration system is broken and needs fixing


Sarah Thomas Maldonado inserts some sane commentary on the so-called debate over immigration.
As Maldonada makes clear at, "for the majority of people, there is currently no legal way to apply to become a resident/citizen of the United States."
She should know.
Maldonado, who currently heads the Immigration Law Practice at Jones Garneau LLP, is a former assistant district counsel at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Read what she has to say

And still the deportations go on...


The New York Times reported the sad story of the Irish man who now faces deportation after spending the July 4 holiday with his American girlfriend on a yacht in the Long Island Sound. The Times story reveals how he was caught by Coast Guard Officials during a customs check of the yacht.

Irish fleeing Ireland in droves as emigration set to hit 120,000 for year


(image) Here's an image to stop you in your tracks. The number of people who will emigrate from Ireland in 2010 and 2011 will add up to 120,000. And as the business editor of the Irish Independent pointed out last week, that is the figure given by the last census for the population of Cork City.
Think about it. Imagine chopping off Cork and letting it drift into the Irish Sea and then around the corner of the Kerry coast into the Atlantic. Before you know it, Cork would be bumping up against Manhattan.
Read more at IrishCentral




There Are Illegal Irish Immigrants Too


May 31, 2010 – Page 1318

By Theo Emery, CQ Staff

More than half of illegal immigrants to the United States come from Mexico, which puts our
southern neighbor at the center of the immigration debate and is the reason President Obama last week said he would send National Guard troops to help protect the border.

But what about the Irish?

An Irish-American group has for several years lobbied to arrange a path to citizenship for the 10,000 or more illegal Irish immigrants in the country — an asterisk among roughly 10 million undocumented non-citizens, but significant nonetheless.

“As far as Irish immigrants are concerned, a ‘no Irish need apply’ sign hangs on the Statue of
Liberty. Take it down,” says Ciaran Staunton, who co-founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform in 2005 and worked with Sens.

Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and John McCain of Arizona on their immigration (ROLL CALL / CHRIS MADDALONI) legislation.

Staunton is part of a coalition of immigrant-rights groups, ranging from Asians (an estimated 1
million illegal immigrants) to Africans (perhaps 300,000), urging Congress to act this year on
comprehensive legislation that would, among other things, allow a chance for citizenship.

But it’s hard to be heard in the dominant debate over Mexicans and other Latin Americans.
Asians and Africans, despite their numbers, “are often actually ignored when it comes to
dialogue or discussions about immigration reform,” says Chuks Eleonu, president and CEO of
the African Peoples Action Congress.

Staunton, however, doesn’t begrudge Latinos the attention. “When you fire a stone at an
undocumented from Nicaragua, you’re hitting one from County Kerry,” he says. “We’re all in it

Source: CQ Weekly
The definitive source for news about Congress.
© 2010 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Irish advocate presses immigration reform



From the San Antonio News
By Elaine Elaya

Ciaran Staunton, (above) president of the New York-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, was in San Antonio on Friday to promote passage of comprehensive immigration reform and encourage Irish Americans to push their congressional delegations for support.

Proposed reforms — yet to be introduced in Congress and stymied amid divisions over clearing a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the nation illegally — rest in the office of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

This week, President Barack Obama reiterated his support for immigration reform during Mexican President Felipe Calderón's visit, adding that Republican support is crucial for passage.

Staunton agreed. Read more

There's work to do


Thanks so much to everyone who came out Thursday night for the meeting in Queens. Sen. Schumer's message was clear; there's work to do. posted on the evening of the meeting. Read the blog post here. Sen. Schumer gave a wonderful injection of spirit to the 350 strong meeting as he pledged "We're not giving up on immigration reform. His surprise visit to the meeting was in an effort to rally much needed support. He explained that the effort needs another Republican backer in the Senate. "But," he said, "that's why we need your help.""We're about ready to go...We're not there yet but we're getting there."The Irish Echo newspaper also published an article this week summarizing the evening. To read the article click here. Schumer proposes to have a comprehensive immigration reform bill ready for congressional debate by May 1. He insisted that he is committed to a comprehensive immigration reform “with every atom in my body,” to getting “a strong comprehensive immigration reform bill through this year.” “I believe in this cause; we’re going to get this immigration bill done.” Bruce Morrison described Senator Schumer as being a super campaign leader but also said “he’s not God, he needs us.” Later on this afternoon the Irish Echo also posted a blog on the possibility of a “May Surprise”. One message that was clear is that politicians need our support to keep pushing for a comprehensive immigration reform. Please keep an eye on the blog or search for “Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform” on for the latest news from the group.[...]

Join us on Facebook!


The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform has moved to Facebook! Join us there on our new Facebook page!

Standing room only at ILIR meeting in New York


Several hundred people packed out Rory Dolan's in Yonkers, New York for the launch of the ILIR's 2009 campaign.

Read more at the Irish Echo

Read more at Irish Central

Click here to see a slideshow of images

Click here to see RTE report

Times says labor unions back legalization deal


The nation’s two major labor federations have agreed for the first time to join forces to support an overhaul of the immigration system, leaders of both organizations said on Monday. The accord could give President Obama significant support among unions as he revisits the stormy issue in the midst of the recession. read more

New hope for undocumented Irish


Bart Murphy, the chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, has welcomed the news that the Obama administration is planning a new initiative on the U.S. immigration system later this year.

On Wednesday, Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House, said that the President would begin examining ways in which undocumented workers could gain a path to citizenship. Read more

Bruce Morrison with Boston Irish at ILIR meeting



A large crowd gathered at the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, Massachusetts on Monday night to hear from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR).

The meeting, which was organized by Irish immigrants Hugh Meehan and Jimmy Gallagher, was a great success, according to ILIR chairman Bart Murphy. Read more

ILIR draws Boston crowd (Irish Echo)


After a hiatus and a change in chairmanship the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform resumed its public campaign for immigration reform this week with a meeting at the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, just outside Boston.
Several hundred attended the meeting to hear the ILIR's Ciaran Staunton vow that the group "wants to make sure that this is the last generation of Irish in America that has to listen to a family member's funeral on the telephone. It is our goal that this is the last generation of Irish to be undocumented in America."
Former Congressman Bruce Morrison, a consultant to ILIR, outlined details of the proposed E3 visa scheme and pledged that, in one way or another, it would provide some benefits for the undocumented as well as providing a future long term, sustainable system of migration to the United States.
Recently elected ILIR chairman, Bart Murphy, stated that the U.S. immigration system had been broken for 45 years and that prior fixes such as the Donnelly and Morrison visas, although very helpful, had not dealt with the fact that there was little or no pathway for Irish immigration.
The crowd, estimated by organizers at 350, warmly applauded Massachusetts ILIR representatives Hugh Meehan and Jimmy Gallagher and pledged active involvement in the ongoing ILIR campaign.

350 turn out for ILIR in Boston


(image) Over 350 Boston Irish braved a dark dreary evening to come to the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, MA to hear ILIR President Ciaran Staunton vow "ILIR wants to make sure that this is the last generation of Irish in America that has to listen to a family member's funeral on the telephone. It is our goal that this is the last generation of Irish to be undocumented in America."

Former Congressman Bruce Morrison, public affairs consultant to ILIR explained the details of the proposed E3 visa and pledged that in one way or another it wil provide some benefits for the undocumented here as well as providing a future long term sustainable system of migration to the United States.

ILIR Chairman Bart Murphy stated that the immigration system has been broken for 45 years and that prior fixes such as the Donnelly and Morrison visas, although very helpful, did not deal with the systemic problem that there were little or no pathways for immigration.

The crowd gave enthusiastic support to local ILIR representatives Hugh Meehan and Jimmy Gallagher and pledged active involvement in the ILIR campaigns going forward.

Our picture shows LIR Chairman Bart Murphy, former Congressman Bruce Morrison, ILIR President Ciaran Staunton, San Francisco ILIR representative Celine Kennelly and Boston ILIR representatives Hugh Meehan and Jimmy Gallagher following a successful ILIR meeting in Boston.

ILIR goes back on the road


The ILIR has reorganized and is back on the road again for a series of meetings to let YOU have your say. We know you have questions about what's going on and we hope to have answers for you.
Our first meeting will take place at the Irish Cultural Center in Boston on Monday April 6 at 7.30pm. Speakers will include Bruce Morrison, ILIR chairman Bart Murphy, vice-chairman Ciaran Staunton and Celine Kennelly from the San Francisco Irish Immigration Pastoral Center. Questions? Call 718 598 7530 or e-mail

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam


Many ILIR supporters will know Samantha Melia who electrified so many meetings in the U.S. with her take-no-prisoners attitude. And those of you who attended the Friends and Family rally in Dublin would have heard Samantha's father make an impassioned plea for his daughter and all the undocumented Irish in the U.S. For those of us who met both Samantha and her father, it was clear that the apple truly never falls far from the tree.

We are saddened to report that Samantha's father, Davey Meade, has passed away in Ireland. We extend our deepest condolences to Sam and her husband Liam and all of the Meade family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Murphy takes over at ILIR


(image) The well-known Irish immigration advocate Bart Murphy is taking over as chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

Murphy, who sits on the board of the American Ireland Fund and is the chair of the coalition of Irish Immigration Centers, is one of the original ILIR board members.

He will be taking over from current chairman Niall O'Dowd. O'Dowd, who will swap places with Murphy on the advisory board, is stepping aside to devote his attention to a new business.

O'Dowd recently announced he was heading up a new Irish website aims to become a global Irish portal.

However, O'Dowd has pledged to remain committed to the cause.

"I will continue to serve on ILIR's advisory board and be available to the organization on an ongoing basis,"he said.

"My new role at Irish Central requires full time attention and energy at this key period for immigration reform,” he said. "I believe Bart will do a magnificent job. There is no-one more experienced. "

Schumer to take helm on immigration panel


By Ray O'Hanlon

February 18, 2009 New York's Seantor Charles Schumer is the new chairman of the Senate Immigration-Sub Committee. He will take over the role vacated recently by Senator Edward Kennedy who held the position for 28 years.

The sub-committee, which also covers issues pertaining to refugees and border security, is an arm of the full Senate Judiciary Committee and in its new form will be made up of six Democrats, including Schumer, and foruR republicans with the ranking Republican being Senator John Cornyn of Texas.

Senator Schumer has considerable experience in immigration issues and his name has been for years associated with the diversity visa program.

Another member of the panel, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, recently visited Ireland and is seen as a strong supporters of Irish causes in Washington.

Meanwhile, Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform vice chairman Ciaran Staunton was back in the U.S. this week after a week long visit to Ireland during which he met with a number of Irish political leaders including foreign minister Micheál Martin and the new secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, David Cooney.

Also at the meeting was Kate Hickey of the Irish-based Friends and Families of the Undocumented Irish lobby group.

"It was fairly good," Staunton said of the two-hour meeting.

"I was very impressed with the range and depth of Martin's knowledge of the situation both on the ground in the community and with the political situation in Washington. He understands that we have two very important issues at hand; the issue of the undocumented and the issue of future legal access to America," Staunton said.

"Clearly he is being kept well-up-to-date by Ambassador (Michael) Collins and others."

The meeting also included ILIR board member Bart Murphy who joined by phone from San Francisco.

Staunton said he was also impressed by David Cooney's grasp of the issues.

"Having grown up in an immigrant house he brings a unique insight to the immigration issue," Staunton said of the British-born and now top Irish diplomat

"He has a great understanding of the diaspora," he said.

ILIR meetings in Boston, NY & San Francisco


The ILIR will be holding a series of meetings over the coming weeks. Please email iliroffice AT gmail DOT com if you would like to be notified of the meetings.

Immigration Reform Advocates Ready to Try Again


This time around the circumstances are more favorable for passing reform legislation By Justin Ewers Posted February 13, 2009 U.S. News and World Report When immigration reform last made an appearance on Capitol Hill, in the summer of 2007, the flood of phone calls from opponents of the legislation was so great, it temporarily shut down the congressional switchboard.The bill's supporters, an unlikely alliance of Republicans and Democrats from President Bush and John McCain to Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid, had spent months searching for consensus. But the furious, well-organized response from conservatives opposed to "amnesty" for illegal immigrants left them short of the 60 votes needed to bring the bill to a final vote in the Senate. In the end, a small majority of senators—mostly Republicans but including some Democrats—voted against the measure to toughen border enforcement, crack down on employers of undocumented workers, and create a pathway to citizenship for the country's 12 million illegal immigrants. "I had hoped for a bipartisan accomplishment," Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, said after the bill was tabled. "What we got was a bipartisan defeat." Undeterred, only 18 months later, would-be immigration reformers are gearing up to try again. Shrugging off concerns about how the issue will fare politically during an economic downturn, they are pressing President Obama to keep a campaign pledge to tackle the issue in his first year. "It's never a perfect time to do this," says Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation working to change immigration law. "But at some point, you have to bite the bullet and say, 'This is the time.' " On the face of it, what was politically impossible then does not seem quite so unattainable anymore. If a bill is introduced in the next year, it will be the first time since 1965 that major immigration legislation is considered without Republicans in control of any branch of government. Reformers not only have a popular president on their side and a Senate Democratic majority hovering just below 60 votes, they also have some highly motivated allies. Harry Reid, the Senate's Democratic majority leader, is up for re-election next year in Nevada, a state that is 25 percent Latino. Former presidential candidate John McCain, meanwhile, has reportedly returned to the Senate determined to revisit one of his signature issues. "Even though there was so much bloodshed on the Senate floor last time, there do seem to be some willing warriors ready to take it back on," says Angela Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center in Washington. Polls show that nearly 70 percent of voters favor some path to citizenship for illegal immigrants if they pay a penalty, pay taxes, and learn English. Questions still linger, of course, around how much support a renewed reform effort can expect from conservatives in both parties with unemployment rising. Michael Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, has insisted that his party will not be softening its opposition to "amnesty." Reformers, though, are pressing on with their outreach efforts. If history is any guide, Congress may want to get ready for a few phone calls.[...]

Irish urged to revisit visa deal with U.S.


The Irish Echo interviewed ILIR vice-chairman Ciaran Staunton this week. Ciaran is in Ireland talking to the Irish Government about the need for a US-Irish solution to immigration reform, particularly something that will allow for more regular movement of citizens from both countries.

The meeting came in the same week that leading San Francisco-based reform campaigner, Bart Murphy, called for a bilateral deal between Dublin and Washington along the lines of an existing visa treaty between the U.S. and Australia. (more)

Misery of the returned emigrant


The Irish Times, Wed, Feb 11, 2009OPINION:After 16 years in Canada, I came home to Ireland. Big mistake. A really big mistake . . . writes BRENDAN LANDERS. THERE ARE three types of people who uproot themselves and emigrate to make their lives anew in a country that is not their own by birthright. Some are gifted with itchy feet and a lust for adventure – they abandon their homeland to satisfy their curiosity about the wide world beyond. Some are fortunate enough to happen upon a foreign place that touches their soul or to bond with a person who makes the prospect of migration more attractive than a life lived at home without the other. And some are forced to emigrate because their native place has nothing substantial to offer them in life.Most of us who left Ireland during the 1980s fell into the third category. We went away not because we had itchy feet, had found our Eldorado or fallen in love with an exotic foreigner, but because Ireland had nothing to offer us. No jobs, no opportunities, no scope to follow our dreams or aspire to even a modicum of success in life. The Irish economy was broken and it would take a miracle to fix it.Along with the dismal state of the nation’s finances, there was a sense that whatever wealth existed was hoarded greedily by a coterie of well-connected professionals, wide boys and golden circles. The land of our birth offered us nothing but tacit encouragement to leave. Brian Lenihan snr, the father of our current Minister for Finance, put it succinctly when he said: “Sure we can’t all live on a small island.”Emigration was expected of us and so, forlorn and abandoned, we departed. We overcame our grief, our disappointment, our homesickness, our longing for the day-to-day company of our families and friends.We settled and went about the business of building new lives for ourselves in our homes away from home. We didn’t expect to live in Ireland again.Then, after a decade or so of exile, a sequence of remarkable events conspired to persuade us that maybe miracles can happen after all. We watched agog as Ireland underwent an awesome transformation. The country transmogrified from an impoverished backwater racked by unemployment and a culture of despair into the epitome of cool and a clamorous hothouse of self-indulgent affluence.U2 became the biggest rock’n’roll band in the world and, unlike previous Irish rock stars such as Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher and the Boomtown Rats, who all invariably moved to London at the first taste of success, they stayed in Dublin.Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan directed world-class movies that won Oscars and they stayed in Ireland instead of moving to Hollywood. Alan Parker made a movie of The Commitmentsand Roddy Doyle bestrode the world of literature, won the Booker Prize and didn’t move to Paris or New York.By virtue of Michael Flatley’s dazzling footwork, Riverdancecreated a sensation in theatres throughout the world and Flatley actually moved to Ireland.The IRA declared a ceasefire and the country was at peace, albeit tentatively so. Michael D Higgins served as minister for arts, culture and the Gaeltacht. A poet in Cabinet, for God’s sake – it was like 1916 all over again.Tribunals were exposing corruption in a host of establishment institutions and there was much heady talk of a brave new world of openness, honesty, transparency and ethics in public life.Hope peeped out from under the carpet.Mary Robi[...]

Sign of the times in Cork


John Hickey, who returned from the U.S. to look for work. Irish Times