As immigration reform hopes remain up in the air, especially in the wake of last week’s primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a member of the Tea Party, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore is in Washington, D.C. this week to urge members of Congress to enact reform that would help tens of thousands of undocumented Irish here.

Gilmore arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday afternoon and met with Irish immigration advocates for a working dinner that evening at the home of Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson.  His schedule on Wednesday, June 18 is jam-packed with meetings with House members on both sides of the aisle who have been active on the issue of immigration reform, including Congressmen Paul Ryan, Luis Gutierrez, Mick Mulvaney, Mark Amodei and Mario Diaz-Balart.

Before traveling to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Gilmore will lay a wreath on behalf of the Irish government and the Irish people to honor the Irish women who died 150 years ago this week in an accidental explosion at a U.S. Civil War-era munitions factory, at what is now the site of Fort McNair in South East Washington.  The deceased are the subject of a memorial monument in the Congressional Cemetery.

On Thursday morning Gilmore will meet Dr. Richard Haass to discuss Northern Irish affairs, and then return to Capitol Hill to discuss immigration with Congressman Xavier Becerra, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, and Senator Pat Leahy.  Gilmore will also meet with White House Domestic Policy Advisor Cecilia Munoz.

The trip to Washington will mark Gilmore’s last as Irish tanaiste (deputy leader) and leader of the Labor Party.  His party suffered heavy defeats in Irish local elections last month. Shortly afterward Gilmore resigned his position as Labor leader.