THE Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform has kicked off a major fundraising drive in advance of the November elections and a new White House administration next year.First up is a heavyweight event next Tuesday at Bobby Van's in New York which will feature the cream of the Irish in New York.Irish-born business success stories such as Fay Devlin, Denis Kelleher, Declan Kelly, Sean Mackin and Joseph Smith have joined forces with leading Irish Americans Charles Feeney and Don Keough to promote the event.Executive Director Kelly Fincham said tickets were selling well for the function."ILIR needs funds to retain our lobbyists in Washington, a job being done superbly by former Congressman Bruce Morrison at present, as well as maintaining a full time office to continuously monitor what is happening on immigration reform," she said."Realistically this was always going to be a long term battle" she added. "The Morrison and Donnelly visas only came after several years of pushing hard on our contacts on Capitol Hill. We are working very well with the other lobbies and the Irish government in D.C. nowadays to ensure we all speak with the same voice."We've been pleased by the level of Irish support," she said. "People really understand that this might be our last shot at helping our Irish communities."So many people who came here in different eras are stepping up to the plate to help those who came after. It's wonderful to see successful Irish immigrants really helping out those who have been less fortunate."ILIR has also been keeping an eye on U.S. politics in preparation for the next Congress."Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama are meeting with La Raza next week and we are hoping for some major campaign announcements arising from those meetings," Fincham said."Senator Obama issued a statement last week on the undocumented Irish in which he pledged to support immigration reform," she said."Realistically, I think both candidates know that the current situation needs to be addressed within the first term."