A large crowd gathered at the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, Massachusetts on Monday night to hear from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR).
The meeting was organized by Irish immigrants Hugh Meehan and Jimmy Gallagher.
“Although there was a lot of frustration and anger in the room, people came prepared with some great questions and we explained as best we could the issues,” said Murphy.
Former Congressman Bruce Morrison, public affairs consultant to ILIR, was on hand to explain the details of a proposed E3 visa that he hopes to bring to the U.S. government’s attention in coming months.
The E3 visa (modeled on the deal the Australians have with the U.S) proposed by ILIR would essentially open the gateway for legal immigration for Irish citizens to the U.S.
ILIR is hoping to secure the visa deal with the U.S. government that would allow people to leave Ireland and come and work in the U.S. for two years. It is also their hope that the only qualifications needed would be a leaving certificate or a trade qualification.
Murphy said, “This is where we differ from the similar Australian visa as they require a degree.”
Although the proposed E3 visa would not directly help the undocumented currently living in the U.S., Murphy explained that certain waivers will be sought.
“We hope to get administrative waivers that some of the undocumented can avail of,” said Murphy.
Morrison said in one way or another an E3 visa will provide some benefits for the undocumented here as well as providing a future long term sustainable system of migration to the U.S.
ILIR vice chairman Ciaran Staunton told the energized crowded that "ILIR wants to make sure that this is the last generation of Irish in America that has to listen to a family member's funeral on the telephone. It is our goal that this is the last generation of Irish to be undocumented in America."
Murphy stated that the immigration system has been broken for 45 years and that prior fixes such as the Donnelly and Morrison visas, although very helpful, did not deal with the systemic problem that there is little or no pathway for long-term Irish immigration to the U.S.
Last week Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen said in Ireland that although it is necessary to “continue to put the case (of the undocumented) in the corridors of power in the U.S.,” it is not a good time to be making “demands in this regard.”
Commenting on this, Murphy said that although he agrees with Cowen on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform not getting passed any time soon because of the economy, he did say that ILIR are insistent in pursuing the E3 visa deal.
“This is the ILIR pushing this visa. We would like the Irish government to get behind us, but it’s more of a role for Irish people here to take ownership of the campaign,” he said.
ILIR leaders were in Washington on Tuesday meeting with Congressman Richie Neal, chairman of the Friends of Ireland, and Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins.
ILIR plans to host a slew of meetings across the U.S. Next on the agenda is a meeting in New York in May. Details of the meeting have yet to be confirmed.