US immigration reform to be put to Senate

 

Major immigration reform in the United States will be put to the US Senate before the summer, a leading US Congresswoman haas said in Dublin.

Making a special one-to-one deal between Ireland and the US is not possible, said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

But Ireland's need would be dealt with if such immigration legislation was passed by the Houses of Congress.

The Irish American immigration groups have been long campaigning for changes to benefit the undocumented Irish who have been living in many cases in the US illegally for over two decades.

Currently the Irish Government and the US are working on a short-term immigration deal which would allow young Irish to work in the States for up to two years.

US president Barack Obama has recently backed the passage of comprehensive immigration legislation, which could reach the Houses of Representatives before the summer holiday break.

New York Democrat Congresswoman Ms Velazquez said the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that immigration legislation should first be passed by the US Senate, before going to the House.

The “Friends of Ireland” US Congressional group, which met today with Ceann Comhairle, John O’Donoghue, have been in Ireland since the weekend, and met yesterday with Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Congressman Neal said he understood “the anguish” felt by many of those who left Ireland to go to the United States in the early 1980s without papers and who now cannot return even for the burial of their parents.

“If those laws were in place my grand-parents would not been able to come to the US. It is a complex issue, however,” he said, speaking at a Leinster House press conference alongside Ceann Comhairle, John O’Donoghue.

Questioned about legislation that could impact on US businesses operating in Ireland, Congressman Neal said those who believed that “the shutters are coming in the US are wrong”.

Ireland has a transparent corporate tax regime and is not “the Bahamas, or the Cayman Islands”, said Mr Neal, who sits on the House committee that is currently examining US business tax law.

The group, chaired by Congressman Richie Neal, has long promoted Irish interests in the US Houses of Representatives and helps to foster trade and cultural links between Ireland and the US.

Besides focusing on the undocumented Irish, the group has also held talks about Ireland-US relations, the World Financial Crisis, the International Fund for Ireland and the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement.