Most Americans see merits of immigration reform, says Bruce Morrison

Poll shows 63% of Americans are in favour of creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants

Bruce Morrison, whose 1990-sponsored law gave almost 50,000 Irish nationals green cards to work in the US.

Bruce Morrison, whose 1990-sponsored law gave almost 50,000 Irish nationals green cards to work in the US.

Tue, Nov 26, 2013, 23:01

The American people see the merits of putting 11 million illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship while politicians still debate whether it will be a reward for law-breaking, a US immigration lobbyist has said.

Former Congressman Bruce Morrison, whose 1990-sponsored law gave almost 50,000 Irish nationals green cards to work in the US, said that a recent opinion poll has shown that, where some politicians disagree, Americans understand that creating a pathway to citizenship is about “joining the nation”.

The poll by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute found that 63 per cent of Americans are in favour of creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, including an estimated 50,000 Irish.

“I hope in the debate about immigration that people take the wisdom of the American people. It is not about a reward; this is about earning and learning your place in America,” he said after being honoured by Flax Trust, the Northern Irish cross-community charity, at a breakfast in Washington DC.

The Democrat-led US Senate has passed a Bill that would allow illegal immigrants to undergo legalising steps to become citizenships but it has stalled in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Mr Morrison, who now works as a lobbyist in Washington, including for Irish-American groups on immigration, said identity had been used maliciously to divide and rule in Northern Ireland. Among Irish-Americans, being Irish does not mean being any less American but is part of their heritage, he said.

“That is true of every immigrant group in this country,” said the former Democratic congressman. “The Irish part of it is that we can retain our heritage… It doesn’t need to be a source of division. It is a source of strength. It is a source of diversity. It is a source of nation-building.”

Bret Baier, an anchor on the Fox News Channel, was also honoured at the 23rd annual event in Washington hosted by the charity, which is fundraising for a new nursing home in Northern Ireland.