GOP Senator Scott Brown now the key figure in Irish E3 visa battle
Hopes of a bill signing before St.Patrick’s Day still very much alive
Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts is the man the Irish community in the US is banking on to deliver the E3 visa scheme which would allow up to 10,000 working visas a year for Irish emigrants.
The E3 bill has been attached to a hi-tech immigrant bill, which would allow far more green cards for Indian and Chinese citizens to come to America.
Irish lobbyist are still confident that a bill can pass before St.Patrick’s Day making it a major victory for them on the issue of most importance to their community.
When that bill easily passed the house, New York senator Charles Schumer added the E3 Irish visas as an amendment in the Senate.
The E3 allows qualified workers and their spouses to come and work in America if they receive a job offer. The E3 recipient can extend the visa every two years. It is a de facto green card but it not counted as such.
Australia, Chile and Singapore all have versions of such a country specific visa and Ireland has long sought its own bill too.
The Irish community was outraged that the hi-tech bill, which also helps Hispanics, had no Irish component, as there was a clear pact that comprehensive immigration reform was the objective for all but the new bill broke that agreement.
Senator Schumer, the Number 2 Democrat in the senate and acutely attuned to the Irish community in New York, was quick to respond to the Irish anger by adding his E3 bill.
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Senator Brown then added his own bill, which is now similar to the Schumer bill after Schumner withdrew a clause that potentially could have allowed undocumented to apply which was not in the Brown bill.
Fifty-three senators, all Democrats have agreed to back Schumer’s bill while at least six Republicans led by Brown are said to be in favor of the legislation.
Sixty votes are needed to defeat any filibuster but an extra hitch has been the opposition of Iowa senator Charles Grassley who has put a hold on the bill in the senate and will not allow it onto the floor at this time.
That is where Brown comes in. the Massachusetts senator has been very responsive to the Irish community in Boston led by Irish Lobby for Immigration local president Hugh Meehan and to the Irish government.
When the Schumer bill was created a flood of Irish began lobbying the Massachusetts republican to back the bill.
Instead Brown wrote his own bill but it is now similar in almost every respect to the Schumer bill.
Brown faces a very tough re-election against Elizabeth Warren who has raised record amounts as she seeks to displace Brown.
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