The Irish Government’s envoy to the US Congress has said more must be done to win Republicans over if the undocumented are to be helped.
John Deasy, a legislator for Waterford, is tasked with getting a deal for the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish citizens in the US but said that Irish politicians’ overwhelming affinity with the Democratic Party has hindered efforts to reach out to the GOP majority.
“We can’t continue to rely on the kind of influence we used to have 30 and 40 years ago. American politics has changed and the relationship with Ireland has changed,” The Times reported the Waterford man as saying.
“It is clear we are not going to be treated as the special case any longer. Irish Americans are well aware of that but successive governments have been slow to realize how much influence and access we have lost... It is just something you need to renew. That is recognized by the Taoiseach and that is why he appointed me.”
Deasy – who once worked in Congress for Republicans – said many in the party had grown “uncomfortable” with the anti-immigrant rhetoric peddled by many of their fellow candidates and were looking to cut a deal.
“There is no guarantee Republicans... will ever agree to its passage,” he caveated. “We cannot afford to spend months and years chasing something that may be unattainable.”
“There is very strong opposition to comprehensive immigration reform in the House. So if you are to gain any progression for undocumented Irish, you need to take a different approach and address their concerns about criminality.”
Few Irish people in the United States, whether undocumented or not, have criminal records and Deasy was at pains to stress the overwhelmingly law-abiding nature of the community.
He added that efforts to extend access to the E3 visa Australians enjoy to Irish citizens were a waste of time in this context as few of the undocumented have college degrees and the requisite work experience in a professional field needed to qualify.
New Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar discussed the issue of the undocumented with President Trump in a phone call a few weeks ago.
Trump told Varadkar, “We have so many people from Ireland in this country – I know so many of them, I feel I know all of them.”
Nevertheless, few insiders are optimistic about the chances of a deal for the undocumented after the President took such a tough stance on immigration during his campaign.
Early in the campaign Trump said he wanted to deport all 11 million but has moderated his views. Deportations have risen but nowhere near all 11 million will be expelled from the United States.
H/T: The Times