6 July 2006 Edition
Supporting the 'undocumented Irish' in US
Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe visited Washington on 28 June as part of an Oireachtas delegation formed to lobby on the issue of the 'undocumented Irish'. The visit came on the back of a previous visit made to the US to lobby on the issue.
"There are between 40 and 60,000 thousand Irish living illegally in America and they form a small minority of about 10 million people in the same circumstances", said Crowe.
The McCain/Kennedy Bill on immigration reform offered what the Dublin TD described as "a pathway towards citizenship" for thousands of Irish wishing to live legally in the States. The Bill was passed in the Senate but was thwarted at Congress level when a final decision was postponed pending the conduct of series of meetings to gauge public opinion on the matter. "Basically what they're doing" said Crowe "is putting it off until the elections. Some of the Congressmen were looking over their shoulders seeing the election coming down the line. They'll hold consultations in states where Immigration is an issue and come back and say no."
Crowe, along with 12,000 other Irish people, attended a very successful rally organised by the Irish lobby for Immigration Reform in Washington. Speakers included US politicians Ted Kennedy, John McCain and Congressman Jo Crowley. "You had people walking all around Capitol Hill, in the cafes, along the corridors, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with 'legalise the Irish', going into Congressmen and women to lobby them regarding the situation affecting the undocumented Irish. The Irish came out of the shadows on the day. They took over Capitol Hill. They were everywhere."
Crowe met people from all over Ireland, business people etc, all making a contribution to US society. "These people went there for a new life. Now they can't go home because they won't be allowed to re-enter the US. I spoke to one woman who had to deal with bereavement over the phone. They miss out on weddings, christenings etc. The whole extended family life is gone."
Irish and Proud - Eireannach agus Bród was the theme of Crowe's exchanges. "It made me very proud to be walking around Capitol Hill, seeing the Irish there in such numbers, standing up for themselves and their communities. It's time people here and in the US woke up to the plight of the undocumented Irish."