A County Kerry man who has been living in the U.S. for more than 12 years has established a Facebook page to support the Irish undocumented living in the U.S. The page has close to 7,500 fans.
The page is called “Get the Irish Home for Christmas 2010.”
Steve McSweeney, 35, has been a firm supporter of the work of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) since its inception in 2006. He has been to every rally the group organized on Capitol Hill in a push to get comprehensive immigration reform passed. He has met with several senators and representatives and stated the importance of having the Irish in the U.S.
Even after the Kennedy/McCain bill failed to make it out of the Senate in 2008, McSweeney pushed on. Earlier this year he found a new way to reach out to the undocumented and their supporters.
McSweeney told the Irish Voice that cyberspace was the way to go to drum up support for the undocumented Irish.
“So many friends that lived here for a long time eventually moved home because of their limbo status, and so many others here who live throughout America are all on Facebook, so I knew it was a way to reach out to everyone,” he said.
McSweeney said the main idea behind the Facebook campaign was for other undocumented throughout the U.S. “to know that there are a lot of other people in the same situation and that they are not alone in this fight to get home to see their families.”
The online page, said McSweeney, is a “great way” to inform people of the latest update in the battle for immigration reform. It’s updated regularly with information from Capitol Hill on the workings of a new immigration reform bill.
“It’s also a very easy way for people to contact Congress via the page so that the Irish voice can be heard,” said McSweeney.
On Monday the number of fans had reached 7,483. About 5,000 of those are based in the U.S. and the remainder are Irish people living in other parts of the world.
“This number includes undocumented Irish, people who are legal and support the Irish, politicians from Ireland and even lawmakers here,” McSweeney said.
Although happy with the response so far, McSweeney urges people to continue inviting their Facebook friends to join his page.
“I encourage everyone to send invites to all their friends as the Irish are a powerful voice when it comes to numbers,” he said.
The website has already gained attention from Ireland. TV3, one of the Ireland’s television stations, has been doing many interviews with Irish undocumented since discovering the page. The page has even caught the attention of CNN.
“This week we have been asked to do an interview with CNN and Al Jazeera TV Europe so the Facebook page is serving its purpose,” said McSweeney.
Albeit mainly positive, McSweeney said the page does get a few negative comments. That, he said, comes with the territory.
“You will always get someone who does not agree with immigration reform and my answer to that is if they had a family member in the same situation how would they feel?”
To join the Facebook page log in and search “Get the Irish Home for Christmas 2010.”