U.S. Congressmen Visit Ireland to Discuss Undocumented

Congressman John Larson (CT), Pete Sessions (TX), Cory Gardner (CO), Spenser Bachus (AL), Eric Paulsen (MN) Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs Pat Breen T.D, Luis Gutlerrez (IL) , Patrick Meehan (PA) , Bill Shuster (PA), Steve Scalise (LA), John Larson (CT), Mike Kelly (PA) at Leinster House.

By Adam Farley, Editorial Assistant
October / November 2013

On the heels of the U.S. Senate’s passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June, 12 congressmen traveled to Ireland in early August to meet with Fine Gael TD Pat Breen about the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants currently living in the United States.

Breen, who is chairman of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, is scheduled to lead a delegation of Irish politicians to Washington, D.C. in September to lobby congressional representatives on immigration reform in advance of the House vote.

An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, six million of whom are Mexican, and roughly 40% of whom entered the United States through a legal port of entry but stayed after their visas had expired, according to PRI’s The World. Though less than half of one percent of undocumented immigrants are Irish, Breen put the figure in individual terms for The Journal.

“Sadly, it’s not uncommon at Irish funerals to see somebody holding up a smart phone or tablet so that an undocumented son or daughter or brother or sister in the U.S. can connect in a small way with the funeral of their loved one.”

Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, however, criticized Leinster House’s involvement with the U.S. immigration reform debate, wondering in a recently-published article in the Irish quarterly review Studies, whether it was not “hypocritical in seeking to have the status of perhaps 50,000 ‘undocumented’ Irish citizens, living and working illegally in the U.S., regularized, while at the same time adopting measures which make it quite uninviting to seek asylum in Ireland.”

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