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Ending bans on former undocumented returning to United States should be the first task of St. Louis attorney Kevin O’Malley the new US Ambassador to Ireland.

New Irish agenda is needed on immigration reform

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Ending bans on former undocumented returning to United States should be the first task of St. Louis attorney Kevin O’Malley the new US Ambassador to Ireland.

The end of comprehensive immigration for this year as signaled by President Obama does not mean the end of Irish lobbying on the issue.

At the heart of a new Irish strategy has got to be a removal of the three and ten-year bar on undocumented Irish who seek to come back legally to America.

President Obama will unveil a series of executive actions to ease immigration laws. One of them should be for US embassies to not impose the three and ten-year bans on undocumented who return to their own countries who are seeking legal access to America again.

Of the eight to ten million undocumented here it is estimated that up to 25 percent of those could regularize their status through sponsorship or investment if the three and ten-year bars were waived at the embassy in their home countries. In many countries the three and ten-year bans are not enforced by the relevant US Embassy. That has not been the way in Ireland.

Many undocumented could easily re-enter the US legally by sponsorship from employers here or by investing in an existing business if the ban did not exist.

Consider this: the American Embassy operation in Mexico issued 58,000 waivers in 2012 to the three and ten-year ban to Mexicans who had previously overstayed and were eligible for the ban but who wanted agricultural visas.

The Dublin Embassy has been very hardline on that issue, possibly a product of a weak political ambassador or in the case of the last 18 months, no ambassador at all.

There is no obvious reason why the same as is being done for Mexico could not be done in the Irish case.

President Obama has now promised executive action on a range of immigration issues after the Republican failure to play ball. This should be a central part.

There is also a new US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley about to be appointed. If he wanted to prove himself a true champion of the Irish he would begin pushing for that waiver program even before he arrives.

Now that would be an ambassador with a difference.

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