Will Hillary Clinton push for comprehensive immigration reform? Image: Hillary Clinton at the Irish America Hall of Fame. Irish America magazine

When Hillary Clinton takes to the podium Thursday evening to accept the nomination of her party as its candidate for president, not a few of those watching on TV or online will be undocumented immigrants.

Many of them Irish.

Clinton will be speaking to November’s election, and what she plans to do should she win it.

Part of that plan, outlined in the Democratic Party Platform, is to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

CIR has been a political staple for years.

It has marched right up to the finishing line more than once, only to stumble at the last moment.

Some of the biggest political names in the country have been associated with the long running battle to have reform enshrined in law: Kennedy, McCain, Schumer among others.

Now Clinton.

Her party platform states that America needs comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

And it further states that Hillary Clinton, as president, will:

 

  • Enact comprehensive immigration reform to create a pathway to citizenship, keep families together, and enable millions of workers to come out of the shadows.
  • End family detention and close private immigrant detention centers.
  • Defend President Obama’s executive actions to provide deportation relief for DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful residents, and extend those actions to additional persons with sympathetic cases if Congress refuses to act.

 

Those executive actions, which would have a positive effect on the lives of an unknown number of undocumented Irish families, have become ensnared in the courts, and additionally face a hostile congressional majority.

There is no guarantee, of course, that even if Clinton wins in November that she will be in a position to work with a Congress favorable to comprehensive reform.

The platform allows for such a possibility when it states: “If Congress continues its refusal to act on comprehensive immigration reform, Hillary will put in place a simple, straightforward, accessible system for parents of DREAMers and others with a history of service and contribution to their communities to be able to make their case and be eligible for deferred action as well.”

The undocumented Irish, many of them having lived in the shadows for decades, will be hoping, if for nothing else, that 2017 might see a lifting of the bars against returning to the U.S. should they travel back to Ireland.

The platform speaks to this issue when it pledges to end the three and ten year bars.

“Current immigration law forces families - especially those whose members have different citizenship or immigration statuses - into a heartbreaking dilemma: pursue a green card by leaving the country and your loved ones behind, or remain in the shadows. Hillary will call on Congress to repeal the 3 and 10 year bars to keep families together.”

For the undocumented Irish, “heartbreaking dilemma” is something of an understatement.

Given the difficulty of legally emigrating from Ireland to the U.S. since passage of the 1965 immigration reform act, returning to Ireland, for most, would not be a mission in pursuit of a green card.

Rather, it might be to attend a personal or family gathering: a marriage of a sibling or friend, the funeral of a loved one, a parent.

The undocumented Irish do not face the potential problem of a big wall keeping them out of America.

They are already here, imprisoned by a legal wall that reaches into the heavens.