Irish Republican News · March 16, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Adams, Ahern back emigrants’ rights
Adams, Ahern back emigrants’ rights

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams in New York yesterday morning pledged his party’s “full support for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

Speaking after a meeting with Grant Lally, President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and Ciaran Staunton, one of the ILIR’s founders, Mr Adams backed their campaign to win legal status for the estimated 40,000 undocumented Irish living and working in the USA.

The Sinn Féin leader said he would raise the issue in his meetings with US political leaders in Washington later this week.

“Key decisions on the future of undocumented immigrants in the USA will be taken shortly,” said Mr Adams. “These will have profound impications for the tens of thousands of Irish in the US who have no legal status.”

New security measures introduced since the September 11th attacks make it impossible for people to renew driving licences, change jobs or leave the country and return without having genuine social security numbers - something illegals do not have.

The Kennedy/McCain bill seeks to ensure that reforms of US immigration law will allow Irish emigrants currently living illegally there to have the prospect of regularising their situation and continuing to make their lives there.

“There are competing and opposite draft Bills being debated in the US Congress and at our recent Ard Fheis Sinn Féin endorsed the McCain/Kennedy Bill as the best way of addressing this issue,” said Mr Adams.

“I will be in Washington for several days this week meeting with senior Congressional and Senate Leaders and this issue will be a priority matter in those discussions.”

26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also held talks last night in Washington with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

Mr Ahern said yesterday he would put the case for the illegal Irish “very forcefully” to both President Bush and members of Congress.

Republicans recently introduced an alternative to the Kennedy/McCain bill which would introduce a guest-worker system. Illegals could avail of this but would have to return home after six years.

“It is very contentious,” Mr Ahern said yesterday. “We will work with senators Kennedy and McCain. We are totally supportive of their efforts.

“It is my job to explain that these people are being harassed; they can’t go home to weddings and funerals, they can’t go home to see their elderly relatives. They are fearful. The president understands this and many others do.”

Tomorrow, St Patrick’s Day, he will meet Mr Bush in the White House for the annual presentation of a bowl of shamrock.

© 2006 Irish Republican News