Time to solve immigration mess
The best hope of fixing this problem once and for all would be the successful negotiation of a bilateral treaty visa between Ireland and the U.S., along the lines of the Australian E3 visa that was created in 2005.
It is precisely here that the Irish government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and its embassy in Washington needs to prioritize its efforts. The Australian model creates a dedicated category of 10,500 work visas per annum, with spouses and children not counted against the cap.
The visa lasts for two years but is renewable indefinitely. While it may or may not be of direct benefit to the undocumented Irish (rabbits have been pulled out of the hat before!), it does provide a sensible and sustainable path forward.
The system of Irish emigration to the U.S. has been broken since 1965. For over 44 years it has been nothing short of a haphazard, sporadic mess that, every now and then, has been temporarily tidied up by once-off fixes such as the Donnelly and Morrison visa programs.
As laudable as comprehensive reform might be, it too is just a one-time fix. Even if it comes to pass it is no substitute for a proper and sustainable system of Irish-U.S. migration. Successful negotiation of an Irish E3 visa is the way forward.
Let us hope our leaders in Ireland and the U.S. have the conviction and moral courage to push for change, to fix an old, broken system and truly embrace the history and accomplishments of our two countries. To the timid among us, let them be reminded of the words of Robert F. Kennedy, channeling Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw - There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were and ask, why not?