The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform has welcomed Wednesday’s introduction of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S.744 by the ‘Gang of 8’ in the US Senate and fully expect an estimated 50,000 Irish undocumented to benefit if it becomes law.

ILIR President Ciaran Staunton commented: ‘We have worked closely with Senators Schumer, McCain, Leahy, Graham and others for many years and are grateful for their ongoing commitment to CIR and the needs to the Irish American community.’

ILIR Board Member Celine Kennelly from San Francisco  attended the introduction of the bill along with other Irish American leaders, Billy Lawless (Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform) and Fr. Brendan McBride (Irish Apostolate USA). On Capitol Hill they met with Senator Dick Durbin of the ‘Gang of 8’ and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The introduction of S. 744 follows many months of bipartisan discussion and negotiation among the ‘Gang of 8’ and marks the beginning of further discussion and negotiation as the bill moves toward a process of approval in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will be subject to amendment from both Republicans and Democrats on the committee.

The bill will then go to the full Senate for debate, amendment and a final vote. The House must also pass an immigration bill, which is currently being negotiated by another bipartisan group of Members of Congress.

ILIR Chairman Bart Murphy said: ‘It has been a long seven year battle to get to this point and we are hopeful for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform which will legalize the 50,000 undocumented Irish living the shadows and will provide a sustainable system of future migration between Ireland and the United States. We remain vigilant and realistic as there is still some distance to travel on this road.’

ILIR leaders pointed out that If the bill passes through the House and Senate as it is currently written and is signed into law by the President, it will take one year to write the regulations to implement the bill.

The application period for the new legalization program will begin one year after the bill is signed into law, and applicants will have one year to apply. The Department of Homeland Secretary Napolitano can extend the application period to a second year if necessary.

The current cut off date for applicants is they have had to be in U.S. on December 31, 2011.

During the year it will take to finalize the regulations after bill enactment and through the one or two year application period, individuals who are eligible for legalization will be protected from deportation.

No one can apply for legalization before the program application period begins ‐ one year after the bill is signed into law. ILIR stresses that individuals should not pay anyone to prepare or file their application unless and until the official application period begins.

ILIR is already warning undocumented to beware of bogus and unscrupulous websites and individuals offering early application opportunities.

ILIR says it will keep the community informed of the process as it moves and will announce the beginning of any application period.

“As the old saying goes, there can be many a slip between  cup and lip and and things may change. Seven years ago we had high hopes for Kennedy/McCain. We have high hopes for this bill and we will be working hard to ensure its passage. As we travel along this road we will be looking for community support as we advocate for the passage of CIR.” said Chairman Bart  Murphy.