Irish in New York react cautiously to new visa bill
Bill is said to only fix part of the problem
The young woman, originally from the west of Ireland, says she is not overly optimistic about the passage of the bill that could help illegal Irish in the U.S.
“There is only a limited amount of visas that can be granted and the amount of undocumented like myself out here is nearly three, if not four times that,” she added.
In the Aisling Irish Community Center on McLean Avenue in Yonkers, Orla Kelleher reports the news of the bill has prompted discussion, both at home and abroad.
“This is the greatest hope of people being able to emigrate here legally from Ireland,” Kelleher, the executive director of the center, told the Irish Voice.
“We have got quite a few emails from people who skipped the small print and wanted to know what they could do to get first in line, once the bill is passed.”
The uncertainty that lays ahead for the passage of the legislation means that the undocumented Irish here are remaining levelheaded.
“Those who were already living here undocumented were more cautious. Year after year their hopes have been dashed,” she said.
“We are looking for whatever small print may be there to exclude the undocumented.”
Over the past 12 months, Kelleher says the Aisling Center has witnessed a surge in Irish emigrants arriving in New York.
“It’s a constant flow now, whereas two or three years ago it was a trickle,” she said. “The age range goes from 18 to one 57-year old man.”
Based on research conducted by the Aisling Center, this year, the highest percentage of emigrants arriving in New York came from Mayo and Dublin.
“Based on our statistics from this past year, the only two counties not represented are Carlow and Wicklow,” she revealed.
“The majority were employed or in college, just before emigrating.”
Whatever happens regarding the progress of the immigration bill in 2012, Kelleher says the Aisling Center has one important message.
“We would always encourage people not to overstay,” she said. “It’s one of our biggest messages.”
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