Fine Gael Clare TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen, has today (Thursday) said that the issue of immigration reform must not be allowed to slip down the political agenda in the United States. Deputy Breen was speaking after he held a private meeting in the US Embassy with three US politicians, who are in Dublin with the Faith and Politics Institute.
Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, and Georgia Congressman John Lewis are all pushing for immigration reform and voiced their support for improving the situation for the thousands of undocumented Irish living in the US.
“It was fantastic to get the opportunity to meet with these three key US political figures, who are pushing the need for immigration reform.
“They each bring their own personal perspective to the issue of immigration reform; Governor O’Malley is a proud Irish American with an understanding of the plight faced by the undocumented Irish; Congressman Lewis played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; and Senator Hirona, who is originally
from Japan, is the only immigrant serving in the US Senate.
“We spoke about the need to progress the Immigration Reform Bill, which has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of undocumented Irish living in America, as well as addressing a number of other issues surrounding the treatment of immigrants in the US.
“Progress on the issue of immigration has been slower than we would have hoped over the last six months. There is a window of opportunity to move the issue forward after the US Midterm Elections later this year. There is a mood to have this issue put to bed before the next US Presidential campaign kicks off in earnest next year.
“An estimated 50,000 Irish are currently living illegally in the US. Without progress on immigration reform, they will continue to live their lives in limbo. The proposed legislation would create a path to citizenship, as well as allowing for 10,500 new e3 visas. I was very pleased to be able to discuss this issue in detail with Governor O’Malley, Senator Hirono and Congressman Lewis, and I look forward to working with them further in the coming months.”