The bipartisan Senate panel on immigration reform, nicknamed the ‘Gang of Eight,’ has put forth their proposals for immigration reform. The Irish government, who will see many of its citizens affected by the potential reforms, praised the panel’s proposals.

On Wednesday, Ireland’s Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., issued a statement in which he praised the Gang of Eight’s plans for immigration reform.

The statement read: “This Bill is a very positive development which, if adopted, would help to end the great hardship and uncertainty faced by undocumented Irish in the US and their families here in Ireland.

The inclusion of a new provision to allow several thousand Irish citizens to legally avail of employment opportunities in the US every year is also particularly welcome.

Both of these issues have been a key focus of my ongoing engagement with political leaders in the US, particularly during my visit to Washington D.C. over St. Patrick’s Day when I discussed them with Ireland’s key friends on Capitol Hill and in the Administration. 

I am conscious that the overall issues involved are complex and sensitive ones within the US political system and that much further debate is likely to be required before the final shape of any overall legislation becomes clear.

I would like at this stage to express on behalf of the Government our deepest appreciation to the bi-partisan group of US Senators who have spearheaded this historic initiative.  The Government will continue to liaise closely with them and other key stakeholders in Congress and throughout the Irish-American community.

This draft Senate Bill is another significant step towards an ultimate outcome that has been long-sought by generations of Irish migrants to the US and their families.”

While the Irish government has thrown their support behind the Gang of Eight’s proposed legislation, some are criticizing some of the ‘disqualifiers’ included in the new plans. One indicates that illegal aliens would not be able to become legal residents if they have any felony convictions or at least three misdemeanor convictions.

Citizenship would also not be granted to those who were ever convicted of an a criminal offense under foreign law, voted unlawfully in the United States or are determined by the feds to be a criminal, national security or public health threat.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore (right), leaders of the current Fine Gael / Labour Party coalitionPA