Positive Signs towards a New US-Irish Immigration System.

December 20th, 2011 - Pat Breen

Foreign Affairs & Trade Chairman to raise Senator Schumer’s proposals at the Joint Committee in the New Year

Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade Pat Breen said today (Tuesday) that there are very positive developments in Capitol Hill in Washington in recent times, which could pave the way for the introduction of a New US-Irish Immigration System.

Deputy Breen comments follow the introduction of an Immigration Bill in the US Senate by New York Senator Charles Schumer; which would permit 10,000 Irish people, per year, to live and work in the U.S. on a New E-3 non-immigrant visa.

“When I was in Washington DC in September, I raised this issue with Senator Schumer and I regard Senator Schumer as an important and steadfast friend on the Hill and I am very grateful to him for his enduring support for immigration reform and I welcome the introduction of this Bill.”

“Senator Schumer’s Immigration Bill is shaped along the lines of the Australian E-3 visa programme. This visa allows up to 10,000 Australian Citizens and their spouses to immigrate to the U.S. once they have secured a job offer in the States. Under the current programme persons availing of the visa must be performing services in a speciality occupation and hold the minimum of a bachelor’s degree and the visa is renewable indefinitely.”

“On Friday last, Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate ‘s Judiciary Committee moved the Irish Immigration Bill, which was created by Senator Schumer, which would have allowed waivers for the Irish undocumented who wish to apply for it. With wide-spread Democratic support for the Bill, agreement with up to 10 members of Republican Party will be required in order to achieve the necessary super majority of sixty votes in order to get the Bill passed.”

“However, the Republicans have introduced an alternative version of Senator Schumer’s Bill. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Mark Kirk of Illinois introduced the Irish Immigration and Reform and Encouragement Act of 2011, which adds Ireland to the E-3 visa programme. This Bill also recognises the strong relationship which exists between Ireland and the US; however, this Bill would not include the undocumented Irish already in the US.”

“Nevertheless, the fact that those two Bills have been published in the US recently; the first Bills to be published there in the last 15 years shows that there is now renewed support on Capitol Hill for the introduction of a new US-Irish Immigration programme, which is a very positive step.”

“Thousands of the Irish undocumented are facing into another lonely Christmas in the United States; including many from County Clare whose families here are also suffering. The issue of the undocumented is a top priority for me and I will raising this matter at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade immediately after the Christmas Break to ensure that Senator Schumer’s proposals for Immigration Reform are debated in my Committee’s work programme in the New Year.