THE leadership of the Irish business community in New York came together late last month to support the continuing campaign to help legalize the undocumented Irish in America spearheaded by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR).ILIR executive director Kelly Fincham said the highly successful fundraiser at Bobby Van's restaurant in New York had drawn pledges of close to $200,000 from community leaders."It was a tremendous response and shows how this issue is of such vital importance to our community," she said. "We had intended advertising last week to say thank you to all our donors but we are still receiving donations now."From construction magnates to Wall Street titans to hospitality industry heavyweights, high-profile Irish immigrant success stories such as Fay Devlin of Eurotech, Declan Kelly of FD and Sean Mackin of Preferred Mechanical crowded Bobby Van's."We don't want to be the generation that pulled the ladder up behind us," said co-host Devlin.The event was also supported by such leading community organizations as the New York GAA, United Irish Counties, Irish American Labor Coalition and local unions.The keynote speaker was former Congress-man Bruce Morrison, author of the Morrison visas and lobbyist for ILIR. Morrison's speech paid tribute to those in the room. "Grassroots activism matters," he said. "The legislators respond to pressure and ILIR has created a powerful form of pressure on this issue. "If you want to see a continued legal Irish presence in America, you have to keep the pressure on," he said."The Morrison visas took time and this effort will take time. We must stand together and keep this battle going."Several people made mention of the economic turmoil in Ireland which has seen large numbers of newcomers in communities such as the Bronx.
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