Last week, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, met with a delegation from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) and the New Jersey AOH leadership at his Newark office for a focused discussion on immigration reform and the Irish context to that issue.  

Led by ILIR president Ciaran Staunton, the group discussed the continuing plight of the thousands of Irish undocumented around the country, including many in New Jersey. They assured Menendez of their support for his work on comprehensive immigration reform, and pledged to continue to actively campaign to get reform passed early in 2010. 

Menendez expressed his concern that the window of opportunity is closing for this Congress and a delay could forestall passage of reform for several years. All agreed that working closely with Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate Immigration Subcommittee chairman, to bring comprehensive reform to the Senate floor early in the New Year was a priority.

The ILIR representatives also discussed the need for an Irish E-3 visa category to serve the needs of the many Irish intent on coming to work in the U.S. to be able to do so legally. Menendez assured the group of his support for this E-3 provision as part of any reform bill.

The meeting with Menendez follows on from a series of successful meetings ILIR has had with important US lawmakers who will be at the center of any immigration reform legislation. These have included Senators Schumer, Lindsey Graham and now Menendez in addition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House members Zoe Lofgren, Luis Gutierrez, Bill Delahunt and others.