For fiscal year 2005, which concluded on September 30 of that year, guess which nation was issued more green cards – Ireland or Syria? Or how about Ireland or Iran?

The two nations said to be behind the latest wave of violence engulfing the Middle East did pretty well in the green card stakes for 2005. Natives of Iran were issued 13,887 permanent resident visas, while Syrians received 2,831.
Ireland? The figure is a paltry 2,088.
The surprising statistics are now available for all to read on the Web site of the USCIS – the exact link is The page features many different breakdowns and makes for fascinating reading.
In total for 2005, there were 1,122,373 green cards issued, the vast majority of them going to family members of U.S. citizens and those being sponsored by U.S. employers. Asians received more than 400.000 of that number, followed by North Americans (Canadians and Mexicans) with just over 345,000. Natives of European countries came in with just over 176,000 visas.
Clearly, those from Europe – particularly those hailing from Ireland – are at a disadvantage given the way the current system is structured, with heavy emphasis on family ties. Smaller countries such as Ireland are simply unable to compete with the huge populations of nations like the Philippines, and are thus overwhelmed when it comes to competing for green cards.
The annual number of DV-1 diversity visas going to Irish natives also clearly supports this fact. For fiscal year 2006, for which visas are still being processed, only 145 Irish received a notification that they were in line for a green card. Compare this to two other countries with much bigger populations competing for the same European allotment – Ukraine (5,269) and Poland (3,416).
The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform argues that something is going to have to give in order for the Irish American population to survive in the decades to come. And the above figures don’t lie.
If the Irish can’t come here legally – and let’s face it, it’s becoming more and more difficult to live in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant – who will make up the numbers of, say, the Irish county associations in 2030? The weaker the link to the homeland, the less the inclination to maintain a connection.
The number of Irish emigrating legally to the U.S. from 1996 to 2005 goes up and down. For ’96, the figure was 1,731, which was followed by a sharp drop the following year, to 998. In ’98 the figure was 944; ’99, 804; 2000, 1,296; ’01, 1,505; ;’02, 1,398; ’03, 983; ’04, 1,531; ’05, 2,088.
The Irish stats are one of the lowest in the vast list of countries sending legal immigrants to the U.S. Natives of the U.K. fared much better, with well over 100,000 green cards issued during the comparable period. Mexico, China, the Philippines and Vietnam were the big winners; Mexico, for the period, was issued more than 1.6 million green cards.
There’s nothing wrong with our immediate southern natives earning such a vast number of green cards. But is it fair that in the same time frame the number for Ireland hovers around 14,000, with no possibility of improvement in the future unless some sort of immigration reform is enacted?
Congressman Bruce Morrison came to the rescue back in the 1990s when he created his Morrison visa program to address the problem of European countries, particularly Ireland, being virtually shut out of the U.S. immigration system. Maybe studying the USCIS statistics on immigration on the above mentioned Web site might prompt another representative to take on the same fight.