President Obama’s executive action on immigration last week has at long last broken the logjam on action on the issue.
We forget sometimes that the immigration issue is about much more than just the undocumented aspect, even though that is what gets all the attention.
There are other huge problems as well, as it has become increasingly clear that the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act is no longer fit for purpose.
Who gets into America, how to hold on to skilled graduates, investor visas and fixing the family preference system are just some of the massive issues to be addressed.
The Republican stance has been to put their head in the ground and pretend that empty rhetoric can solve the situation.
How exactly they mean to “self-deport” 11 million people would be an interesting exercise.
Senator John McCain once reckoned it would take buses backed up 1,200 miles from San Diego to Seattle to repatriate all the folks from Mexico and Central America alone.
What Obama has done is clear the rock from the road and allow the debate to enter a distinctly new phase.
It is far from satisfactory as it was done by executive order, but what other option did he have when the House refused to even vote on the Senate bill?
If it had voted the bill would have passed in a bipartisan vote but John Boehner, ever mindful of his hard right-wingers, refused to allow that vote to happen. So they can hardly complain that Obama has now acted.
The final provisions have yet to be drawn up with regard to the conditions under which the EAD or Employment Authorization Document will be issued.
Neither has the final shape of what advanced parole which would allow qualified undocumented to travel been decided upon.
Both facts make it imperative that these issues are focused on and a major lobbying effort undertaken to ensure that the best language possible be achieved.
There is no reason why advanced parole should be limited to extreme family circumstances, that funerals and weddings be considered reasons to obtain it rather than funerals alone.
The U.S. Constitution specifically mentions the “pursuit of happiness” -- what could be more meaningful for a U.S. resident that visiting family after years of absence?
As for the Irish with no children or not here long enough, we cannot end our efforts to help them.
Another provision in the executive order extends the availability of EADs to more so-called “Dreamer” kids than before. Such alterations in the future must be sought for those with residence in the U.S. for the required amount of time, with children or not, and a shorter residency requirement sought as well.
There is also the question of future flow. The Obama move has opened up the debate even to the point where some on the GOP side are discussing piecemeal legislation.
If that were to occur we should not hesitate to seek passage of E-3 visas which would allow 10,000 Irish to come here year after year and end the undocumented nightmare forever.
We can be sure every other country will be making their priorities clear. Ireland needs to do so too.
Obama has taken a dramatic first step. The Irish community and government needs to stay deeply involved as the roll out unfolds.