The current senate bill tries to address Irish concerns with a provision, supported strongly by Senators Chuck Schumer (D- NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), that allows for future flow of Irish workers to the tune of 10,500 per year. Applicants would have to have a high school diploma or equivalent or a two-year vocational training qualification to be eligible. The visa is renewable every two years and would require a job offer to be made before securing the visa. There is also no limitation to how long the visa program will run.
According to the Wall Street Journal an aide to Mr. Schumer said that the provision would right a 1965 change to immigration law that was supposed to end bias against Latin American, Asian and African immigrants but "inadvertently made it difficult for Irish immigrants to obtain visas, despite their strong cultural ties to the U.S."
Time will tell if a bill passes but if Monday’s back slapping and on stage courtship of two normally implacable political foes is any indication then the Congress may surprise us all by actually passing a bipartisan law this year.
*Breandán Magee is the Executive Director of the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support (CIIS)