There’s little hope for a bi-lateral deal between Ireland and the U.S. for the approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish workers in the States, according to a leading American congresswoman in Dublin Tuesday.
In talks between the “Friends of Ireland” congressional group and Ceann Comhairle (Irish House Speaker) John O’Donoghue, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D -NY) said that although U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to reform the U.S. immigration system with legislation that is expected to reach the House of Representatives this summer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that immigration legislation needs to be passed first by the U.S. Senate.
The members of U.S. Congress in Ireland - all supporters of Irish issues in the House of Representatives - led by Richie Neal (D - MA), have been in the country since the weekend to discuss the issue of undocumented Irish workers in America, and to brief the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen and the Irish government on the latest developments on U.S. immigration policy.
The Irish Times reports that Congressman Neal stated he understood “the anguish” felt by the Irish living illegally in the U.S. since the early 1980s who can’t return home even for the burial of loved ones.
“If those laws were in place my grandparents would not been able to come to the U.S. It is a complex issue, however,” he said during talks with the Irish government.
Neal was questioned on U.S. tax laws that could affect American business in Ireland, but said that those who believed that “the shutters are coming in the U.S. are wrong.”
During their current visit to Ireland, the “Friends of Ireland” group has also held talks about the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the global financial crisis.