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Sean Minihane

Immigrant Defender

Engineer and activist Sean Minihane. (Photo James Higgins)

By Seán Ó Murchu, Contributor
October / November 2000

In the late ’80s and early ’90s the Irish Immigration Reform Movement (I.I.R.M.) was a powerful lobbying group for Irish immigrants, working to change U.S. immigration law to provide equal access to all immigrants and to legalize the thousands of illegal Irish immigrants who were in the country already. The following excerpt is from an interview with Sean Minihane, then national president of the I.I.R.M.

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On Washington, D.C.: The one feeling I brought away from the hearing [on an immigration bill sponsored by Senator Kennedy and Congressman Donnelly] was that there is no Irish voice down there. There was an ethnic panel, which had an Italian representative, a couple of Asians, Chinese, a good number of Hispanics, but absolutely nobody representing the Irish.

On working for immigration reform: The people who were attempting to do something about the issue were people like Donnelly and Kennedy. Their liaison with the Irish government was the diplomatic staff. I think we felt that the easiest and quickest way to get them to do more was to get the diplomatic people to do more pushing. And the way to do that was to make it hot for the politicians back in Ireland. – May 1990

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