Breen to lead delegation to Washington for key push on immigration reform

August 1st, 2013 - Pat Breen

Irish leaders in DCFine Gael Clare TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen, will lead a cross party delegation to Washington from September 9th to 12th to lobby American politicians on the Pro Immigrations Bill as it is due to pass through the House of Representatives.

“I was very pleased to have been asked by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore TD, to lead this cross party delegation to Washington in what will be a final push by Irish politicians to lobby our American counterparts on the importance of the immigration reform legislation, which has already passed through the US Senate.

“Our delegation will arrive in Washington at a key time, as the Bill will begin its passage through the Republican controlled House of Representatives. The legislation, which was drafted by a cross party group of Republican and Democrat Senators, will lead to major changes in the US immigration system and will offer the possibility of a more certain future to the 50,000 undocumented Irish.

“The passage of the Bill through the US Senate in recent weeks was a very positive development. But considerable challenges lie ahead if it is to be successfully passed through the House of Representatives. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was one of a number of high level individuals I met when I travelled to Washington with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, earlier this year. My colleagues and I will be stressing the importance of this legislation when we meet with Congress representatives from both sides of the political spectrum in Washington.

“Irish emigrants are making a very valuable contribution to the US economy. But their illegal status leaves them under the constant threat of deportation. Unable to return home, they are reliant on technology to keep in touch with their families. The reality is, the issue of the undocumented Irish is not just a major concern to the Irish Government and the Irish American Community in the US, but every parish in Ireland.

“This new piece of legislation has given renewed hope to the undocumented Irish living in the US, by creating a path to citizenship, as well as allowing for 10,500 new e3 visas. The Irish delegation to Washington will provide us with a crucial opportunity to advance the case of the undocumented Irish on Capitol Hill. Up to this point, a bipartisan approach has been key to the success of the passage of the Bill through the Senate. We must continue with this co-operative approach if we are to be successful in the Republican controlled Congress.

“The cross party delegation will follow up on the Tánaiste’s recent visit to Washington, where he met with key policy makers. This is one last window of opportunity to intensify lobbying and to garner bipartisan support for this extremely important piece of legislation.”