Several countries, including Ireland, are seeking hidden visa programs for themselves in the new immigration bill, The New York Times reports.
South Korea, Poland, Canada and Ireland are the four most prominent countries seeking deals for their citizens says The Times.
In the Irish case former Congressman Bruce Morrison, who inserted the Morrison visas for Ireland into legislation in 1990, has been hired by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform to help win the E 3 visa program for the Irish.
The E3 visas were first given to the Australian government in 2006 as part of a deal for their support for the Iraq war. They allow 10,000 Australian citizens a year to emigrate legally to the U.S. on work visas. It is not a permanent green card but can be renewed every two years,
The Irish government and the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform have been lobbying hard behind the scene for the visas, Prime Minister Enda Kenny made a personal plea to President Obama for their passage during his visit to the U.S. on St.Patrick’s Day. The provision for the visas are buried deep in the 867 page bill currently before the senate .
The Times reports that South Korea has spent $1.7 million to date lobbying for special visas as part of their free trade bill with the U.S.
Meanwhile, Canada has been lobbying hard for its citizens over 55 who come back and forth to America to be allowed to stay longer.
Poland, which recently hosted Vice President Joe Biden at their embassy is lobbying to be included in the expedited entry program which allows more citizens to travel to the US without renewing visas every time.
Senator Charles Schumer of New York, architect of the immigration bill defended all the country unique provisions. “Each of these provisions makes individual sense on the merits,” a spokesman for the senator said. “They each solve inequities in the existing immigration law.”
However not all agree “This could turn into a stealth immigration policy,” Ronil Hira, a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, told The Times. “Every country is going to try to negotiate its own carve-out.”
Indeed, The Times says other places, including Tibet, Hong Kong and parts of Africa are also seeking extra visas.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa disagrees with the country specific passages.
“I plan to ask many questions throughout this process,” Grassley has warned.
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