Breen welcomes US congressmen to Leinster House ahead of key push on immigration reform

August 14th, 2013 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael Clare TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, Pat Breen, has today (Wednesday) welcomed twelve American congressmen to Leinster House to discuss the key issue of US immigration reform. Deputy Breen will next month lead a delegation to Washington to lobby American politicians on immigration reform legislation, as it is due to pass through the House of Representatives.

“I am delighted to be able to welcome these prominent US congressmen to Leinster House. A number of them have been very active on the issue of immigration reform, such as Luis Gutierrez from Chicago and Frank Lucas from Texas. On Tuesday, I addressed the Franklin-Ripon CODEL Conference in Farmleigh, which dealt with the pressing issue of immigration reform.

“Meeting with this group of US congressmen is a very positive step ahead of my trip to Washington next month, when I will lead an Irish delegation to Capitol Hill to lobby politicians there on the importance of passing the immigration bill through the House of Representatives. Its recent passage through the US Senate was a landmark step in bringing about long-awaited changes to the US immigration system, which will change the lives of thousands of undocumented Irish, who are living in limbo.

“The estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish make up a tiny proportion of the overall number of illegal immigrants in the US, yet there is a huge desire both in Ireland and the United States to bring about a solution to their situation. Irish immigrants want to contribute to US society; but instead they have been living in the shadows, unable to participate fully in American life or return home to Ireland for major family events.

“Sadly, it’s not uncommon at Irish funerals to see somebody holding up a smart phone or tablet so that an undocumented son or daughter or brother or sister in the US can connect in a small way with the funeral of their loved one. In Co. Clare, a local funeral director has started streaming funerals online for the benefit of grieving relatives who cannot get home. The plight facing the undocumented Irish is a very human story, which is replicated in towns and villages across Ireland.

“I have had a very constructive engagement with the US congressmen over the last two days, and I hope to build on this progress further in Washington next month. I very much hope that any legislation enacted in this area will allow undocumented Irish migrants to resolve their immigration status issues. I also hope that a suitable mechanism can also be found to enable future flows of legal migration between Ireland and the United States; an aspiration which was reflected in the provisions passed by the US Senate in June.”

ENDS

Contact:
Sarah Meade
Fine Gael Press Office
01 618 3379

Note to Editors:

The congressman who met with Deputy Breen are:
Spencer Bachus (AL)
Cory Gardner (CO)
Mike Kelly (PA)
Frank Lucas (OK)
Patrick Meehan (PA)
Erik Paulsen (MN)
Steve Scalise (LA)
Pete Sessions (TX)
Bill Shuster (PA)
Pat Tiberi (OH)
Luis Gutierrez (IL)
John Larson (CT)
Frank Lucas (TX)

Deputy Breen will lead an all-party delegation from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade to Washington DC on 9th-11th September.