The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) intends to step up its campaign to legalize the undocumented who will not qualify for relief under President Obama’s executive orders, and secure a new flow of visas to allow legal access to the U.S. in the future.
“However, we are very conscious that a large number of individuals will not be able to take advantage of President Obama's action, in particular those who have lived in America for five years but do not have children (single people with no children, childless couples, LGBT couples with no children etc.)
“When we founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform it was with the purpose of achieving meaningful reform for all members of our community.”
Staunton told the Irish Voice that the ILIR “will return to Washington to finish the job once Congress reconvenes.”
In addition to pushing for an E-3 visa program, a provision which passed in the Senate’s 2012 immigration bill that would grant more than 10,500 work visas to Irish applicants each year, Staunton said ILIR will also work on easing the 10-year bar that is triggered when long-term undocumented leave the U.S. and attempt to return.
Many undocumented are presently in a position to qualify for a work visa, but are unable to avail of the offer because the visa needs to be processed at a U.S. consular post abroad.
“That’s something that needs to be addressed,” said Staunton, who noted that a liberal interpretation of the 10-year bar by U.S. consular posts in Mexico has allowed tens of thousands of qualified Mexicans to secure legal status.
Staunton said ILIR would also work on broadening the humanitarian provision in Obama’s executive order that would allow qualified undocumented residents to travel abroad.
“We’ve seen in the past where Department of Homeland Security officials will not interpret with the spirit of the law in mind, but rather the letter, and that’s not acceptable,” Staunton said.
“We want to make sure that as many people as possible can avail of the humanitarian provisions so they can finally go home.”