Irish Government exploring new options for a future stream of US visas
Eamon Gilmore says government is working diligently behind the scenes
Acknowledging that comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. is a longshot at best, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore says the Irish government is exploring new options for securing a future stream of visas that would allow for legal immigration to the U.S. from Ireland.
Gilmore was in New York last week for meetings at the United Nations and with members of the Irish American community. During a press briefing at the Irish Consulate on Friday evening, he admitted that his government, in office since February, is working diligently behind the scenes on the immigration issue.
“We are concentrating our efforts on securing an E-3 visa. These discussions are continuing and we are pursuing that,” said Gilmore, referencing the annual 10,500 E-3 visas that are available exclusively to citizens of Australia which allow for indefinite employment in the U.S.
But Gilmore said the government is looking at “other approaches” as well.
“It seems to me that the whole issue has been log-jammed for a long time,” he said. “We are looking at new approaches, and we are discussing that with our diplomatic staff here.”
Gilmore would not reveal specifics about a new Irish government strategy on U.S. immigration for its citizens, but he vowed a serious effort.
“We are looking at every possible variation you can think of to see if we can secure additional visas for Irish people to come to the U.S.,” he said.
Gilmore also said that both himself and Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny raised the issue of Irish immigration to the U.S. with President Obama during this year’s St. Patrick’s celebrations at the White House, and that Irish diplomats in Washington, D.C. are in continuous discussions with Capitol Hill leaders about the matter.
As far as the undocumented currently in the U.S., Gilmore says the government has not and will not forget them.
“Their difficulties are of great concern and we are continuing to work on it,” he says.
The foreign minister, who is also the Irish tanaiste (deputy prime minister), met with a number of Irish immigration groups during his time in New York, including the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers (CIIC) in the U.S.
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