Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Key week shaping up for passage of E3 visa bill for Irish in US Senate

Senator Scott Brown delighted with indications of Irish community support

Niall O’Dowd – IrishCentral - February 26, 2012,

The E3s would allow 10,500 Irish citizens a year to come to America on renewable temporary two year work visas.

Next week is shaping up as a major one for the prospects for immigration reform and the E3 visas for Irish citizens.

The E3s would allow 10,500 Irish citizens a year to come to America on renewable two year work visas. Australia already has such a deal, while 20 other countries also have reciprocal visa programs with the US but not Ireland.

The key figure on the Republican side, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, is said to have been buoyed by the massively positive reception he got from a large Irish Boston audience when he met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny recently when the Irish leader was in Boston.

Brown is in an intense battle with the Democrats to hold on to his seat and the Irish American vote is a critical constituency.

At a reception for the prime minister, Irish community leaders made clear to Brown their appreciation of his work on behalf of the new visa program. Brown’s bill is currently before the senate awaiting action.

A similar bill by Senator Charles Schumer of New York on the Democratic side has gained the support of 53 senators.

This week work to bring together the two bills is expected to gather pace. The hope is that a bill can be agreed in both House and Senate by the St. Patrick’s season, when President Barack Obama will host a White House reception for Enda Kenny.

Supporters believe there is a real chance that the legislation can pass through the senate on a unanimous consent basis. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to have made clear to Irish officials that he does not intend to hold it up if he has the votes.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the republican who has held up the bill and a companion bill for hi-tech skill visas is said to be in negotiations with Senator Brown about a compromise.

Meanwhile Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform President Ciaran Staunton was in San Antonio, Texas where he addressed the Irish American community there.

He stressed the importance of reaching out to Texas senator John Cornyn and San Antonio US representative Lamar Smith who is a key figure on immigration in the US House.


It looks like the ILIR have lost their way which is clearly spelled out in the mission statement below taken from their own web page. Is it any wonder that there is widespread anger in the undocumented Irish community? They have been thrown under the bus in order to pass a piece of “feel good legislation” that does absolutely nothing to solve their very unenviable immigration status.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

ABOUT US: The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) is fighting for the voice of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the immigration debate.

ILIR was set up in December 2005 and since then we have held several immigration rallies throughout the US and have also held two high-profile lobby days in Congress to lobby for our undocumented Irish workers.

A Wee Reminder

There is no reference in the mission statement above to “a half a loaf is better than none” or settling for the “crumbs from somebody else’s table”. Back then it was a clear cut case of all or nothing. “Legalize the Irish” was emblazoned on several banners and hundreds of T-shirts and it referred to our undocumented Irish nationals who proudly carried those banners and wore those T-shirts in hopes of making a difference in their lives.

The question remains nearly seven years later. What has happened to all the promises made by politicians who agreed to work diligently to fix our broken immigration system and bring our undocumented Irish nationals in from the cold? The fact that nothing has changed from that day to this that would allow them to adjust their status is a classic example of, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions and broken promises”. We can and we must do better. E-3 temporary work permits are not good enough!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Canada looking for Irish workers

Irish Times – 26 February 2012

Canada is looking for 335,000 carpenters, electricians, welders, plumbers, heavy equipment operators and millwrights.

A delegation from western Canada is visiting Dublin this week in an effort to recruit thousands of workers for the construction and related trades.

The delegation, which includes representatives of the British Columbia Construction Association, Alberta Construction Association and senior officials from the British Columbian Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation hope to identify sources of skilled labour.

The delegation will beholding talks with the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs, the Departmentof Education and Skills, Fás, the Construction Industry Federation, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, the Dublin Institute of Technology and the National Apprenticeship Advisory Committee of Fás.

It will also be attending the Dublin Working Abroad Expo/Jobs Fair next week.

There are a projected 335,000 job opportunities arising in British Columbia and Alberta between now and 2014, especially in construction. The biggest demand relates to carpenters, electricians, welders, plumbers, heavy equipment operators and millwrights.

Canada differs from many countries seeking workers abroad in that it encourages long term inward migration by specified groups and also facilitates family settlement.


It appears that we could certainly learn a lesson from the Canadians. When you have a need, go out and aggressively seek a solution to fill that need wherever you feel that the solution can best be found. I have no doubts that there are generous incentives and wages offered for qualified prospective Irish applicants who might want to take advantage of these job opportunities. Canadians do not seem to be bogged down with seeking legislative approval to fill a need for qualified workers whether they come from Canada or from Ireland. Canada’s gain is a very real loss for Ireland first and foremost and a potential one for the U.S. while our legislators continue to engage in their usual game of partisan politics with regard to the immigration issue.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Reply to AOH Political Education Committee Letter

This is obviously a point of view taken from the lofty position of an American citizen who, very frankly, has no idea of what it is like living with the myriad of problems weighing on the minds of our undocumented Irish nationals currently living in the U.S. It takes a great deal more than attendance at a few meetings of well intended but, for the most part, people who have, at best, no more than a very vague idea of these problems. I could repeat a laundry list of the problems that the undocumented live with every day but it would serve no purpose as the only ones who genuinely care are those who are directly affected.

Anyone who believes that our Irish nationals currently living here "out of status" are satisfied in any way with the proposed "Irish E-3 Visa" is wrong. Their emotions run from deeply disappointed to thoroughly disgusted. They feel that they are nothing more than "collateral damage" in a game of political football. In actual fact, their very unenviable immigration status will not change whether this totally inadequate piece of legislation passes or it does not so a growing number of them simply do not care anymore.

The apprehensions, prolonged detentions, and eventual deportations by ICE for very minor infractions, unfortunately, will continue on a regular basis. The vast majority of our undocumented Irish say that all they ever wanted to do was make a life for themselves that is unattainable in Ireland because of the depressed economy and lack of work and in the process contribute to the betterment of this great nation. Many feel that if legislation can't be passed sooner rather than later that would allow them to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident, they might as well leave here and go to Australia, Canada, Britain or take their chances back home in Ireland. America would, very clearly, be the loser if they decide they have no other choice but to leave.

Maybe, just maybe, this will begin to convince you that there is a different point of view than the "half a loaf is better than none" school of thought. It is held primarily by those who are the empty handed recipients of the "none half of the loaf".

As usual, the implication in the diatribe below is that I am taking this position to cause controversy. This is absolutely incorrect. Let me be very clear and unambiguous when I say that I take this position in strong support of our undocumented Irish nationals purely and simply because it is the right position to take. I have absolutely nothing to gain or lose by taking it other than the personal satisfaction that comes with knowing that you did the right thing.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Irish E3 Visa Immigration Controversy

AOH National Political Education Committee

In the Irish E3 Visa we have again a non controversy made into controversy, which seems to happen fairly often in today’s society and 24 hour news.

The membership of the Ancient Order of Hibernians America and Ladies AOH are required by the Constitutions of our Orders to work for fair Immigration Laws in the United States. Moving the undocumented Irish to legal status is the primary goal of our Order and that has never changed.

In the early 1980’s The AOH/LAOH leaders, along with other Irish Immigration groups, in moving more than 100,000 Irish undocumented to legality. Several Congressmen are heroes today because of those efforts; Bruce Morrision and Brian Donnelly being two that readily come to mind in these efforts. These men and others made sure that the Irish gained their fair share of the Donnelly/Morrision Lottery Visas before they added their votes to the omnibus bill, using compromise and political skills, to pass it. The goal of legalization and fair immigration laws are bound together and yet if you can gather a victory on the way, why not.

First, we need to honor the Irish Government that has never lost sight of their citizens who are undocumented here in the United States. Irish diplomats work constantly and diligently with American diplomats and other immigrant groups as they did in 1986.

Second and just as important, is our Catholic Church, which is constantly working to legalize the undocumented to allow them to live normal lives as they have since the beginning of immigration laws.

In a recent meeting of about 40 activists in NYC at the Irish Consulate, chaired by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, there were three priorities involved on immigration the Irish Government sees in their remit. Present were representatives from Immigration Centers across the United States, Immigration Groups, and the AOH.

1. How the groups, cooperating with the Consulates and Embassies, are aiding, supporting, and working to legalize the undocumented.

2. How are we caring for elderly Irish immigrants here in the United States, documented and undocumented, who have grown older and in some cases may be alone?

3. The potential for the E3 Visa.

The Immigrant Centers are in all of these issues but especially 1 and 2, their leaders and supporters made up the biggest portion of the attendees. Day to day immigrant centers work with the undocumented and they are gaining little pieces of legalization every day but it is a slog as it was in the 1980s. We do not see the E3or Legalization as mutually exclusive. The E3 will not negatively affect legalization and may be another tool to help move the undocumented to a legal status.

The Immigrant Center representatives at the meeting were mostly documented but more than a half dozen attendees raised their hand when asked if there were undocumented. There was zero bitterness among the undocumented and one young woman said, “We are not about pulling the ladder up after us.”

As we can see it is not a choice between the E3 and legalization but an opportunity to gather 10,000+ Visas for the Irish to work in the United States legally as have citizens of Chile, Australia, and several other nations. In some cases there will be fewer young Irish taking an illegal chance if we can pass the E3 and make it work for them.

The E3 is an opportunity for Senator Schumer and Brown, along with Toomey and others to piggyback on a piece of legislation just as Donnelly and Morrision did in 1986. No such legislation is available, at the moment, to do the same with legalizing the undocumented. Does that mean that we shouldn’t take a "bird in hand" and instead stubbornly wait for the two in the bush to jump into our hands?

We need to work together and communicate so that we know when opportunities for the undocumented Irish are on the horizon and move quickly to take advantage of these opportunities as we are doing now with the E3.

We do not see a controversy here only an opportunity. BTW Bruce Morrision was at the NYC meeting

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fizzle, no pop

Ray O'Hanlon - February 15th, 2012 – Irish Echo

The hoped-for Irish E-3 visa bill that Senator Scott Brown said last week was “about to pop” was still stalled on Capitol Hill this week with Iowa Senator Charles Grassley maintaining his hold on a measure that combines the proposals of Massachusetts Republican Brown, and New York Democrat, Senator Charles Schumer.

As such, the story has become a tale of two Chucks (Grassley and Schumer) with a Scott in the middle.

Sources were indicating this week that Grassley was effectively proposing to “eviscerate” the Irish E-3 proposal by merging it with an existing E-3 program open to Australians.

The Schumer Irish bill envisages 10,000 renewable E-3 visas on an annual basis for eligible Irish applicants. But according to sources, there would be precious few E-3s for the Irish under Grassley’s plan as virtually all the visas would be snapped up by Australians.

Backers of the Irish E-3 are now looking to Senator Brown, who has penned his own Irish E-3 measure, to persuade sufficient Republican colleagues in the Senate to reach a required 60 votes.

The Schumer version of the bill is supported by all 53 Democrats.

“He needs to get his side in order,” said a source, referring to Sen. Brown.

Last week, Brown told the Boston Herald that his E3 bill was “about to pop” on Capitol Hill with passage possible before week’s end.

“In Massachusetts we have such a strong demand for this because of our family and cultural ties. This is kind of a no-brainer,” Brown told the daily.

Brown’s bill actually proposes 10,500 Irish E-3s but leaves out any possible waiver for the undocumented Irish. In order to secure across the aisle agreement, Sen. Schumer removed a waiver provision from his bill, S.1983, in order to reach an accommodation with Brown and his GOP allies.

Brown told the Boston Herald that he was “trying to work” with Sen. Grassley to have him and other Republicans “step back” from their objections.

“We’re ready to pass it today,” Martin Brennan, state director for Senator Schumer, said of the combined Irish E-3 proposal.


Sen. Brown’s Bill never made any provision for our undocumented Irish nationals. Sen. Schumer folded as soon as there was any opposition at all to the visa waiver provision which was the only part of his bill that might have benefitted our undocumented friends, neighbors, and relatives. And very frankly, under the best of circumstances it would have only helped some, not all, of them. It is time to go back to the drawing board for those who profess to be working in the best interests of our undocumented Irish nationals. We started out to try to find a resolution to their plight. So far, our efforts have resulted in failure. We can and we must do better.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Contraception, Catholics, and Obamacare

Rebecca Downs - 8 February 2012

It is no secret that Obama’s health care plan, known as Obamacare, has been a source for heavy debate all across the political spectrum. Whether you consider it a major victory for the belief that health care is a right, or consider it widely unconstitutional, you know it’s there. But with a bill that was over one thousand pages long, controversies and debate are not far off. Do we know what we should about it? Are we going to educate ourselves as to why it’s wrong for America as voters and patients, or are we just going to allow ourselves to remain ignorant?

Since its passing in Congress nearly two years ago, Obamacare has been featured several times in the news, and not all for positive reasons. The issue of taxes funding abortions with regards to the Hyde Amendment and similar conscience clauses have been a recurring theme, which is perhaps most noteworthy regards plans for the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Obamacare. If the president wished to get his agenda out there, he has pretty much done so. He has certainly made his legacy, but one that may prove to be the last legacy he will ever have. For when your administration tells religious groups “There is not a debate” and “The decision has been made” it shows that you care more about your own political agenda, at any cost. The presidential inauguration involves an oath swearing to protect the constitution. President Obama has done almost anything but that.

So while recent passing of health care laws have trampled upon not only the conscience clause, but the constitution as well, it only provides the Supreme Court with one more piece of evidence as to why this unconstitutional health care plan needs to go. This certainly affects us as voters as well as we are entering an election year. I myself am certainly appalled at how the White House thinks they can get away with such a law, but I am also surprised. Why is the president only further advertising why the law goes against everything that this nation stands for? Does he want to lose? In trying to find the silver lining in everything, at least the American people tired of this President’s agenda can point this out to voters who have not yet been able to realize how dangerous this administration really is.

What this new health care law involves is forcing Catholic institutions, including us at Fordham, to include health insurance which will cover birth control to employees, as well as students, and without co-payments. Now, it is well known that the Catholic Church opposes contraception as a tenant belief. People may argue that even Catholics have used forms of contraception, but the Church is still entitled to believe and teach what they wish. In an ideal world, one where the constitution is actually upheld, the Church does not have to fear the government encroaching on such beliefs.

Voters have mentioned that the Catholic Church and other critics of Obama’s health care criticize the law for specifically pro life reasons. It is no longer just about though. You don’t have to be pro life to realize that this health care damages religious freedom when it forces a private, religious institution to further its agenda. This nation has prided itself in including and upholding Freedom of Religion in its constitution. And likewise the Separation of Church and State is in place to protect religion from the government. There are countless examples of why many feel the Separation of Church and State is in place to protect this nation from becoming too religious. It is important to note though, perhaps the most important part of the Separation of Church and State is that it works both ways. You have a right to not practice religion, but you absolutely have a right to practice religion. And nobody, especially not the government, should tell you otherwise. That is the America I am proud to be a citizen of. Unfortunately, Obama is making my country a place I may not be able to recognize as a place that protects such a key value.

We could write this article all about debating abortion, contraception, pre-marital sex. Those debates are certainly nothing new, and we could debate them to death. Such a debate though is based off our own personal beliefs. We don’t want the government telling people they cannot be having sex with each other, but we should also likewise not want the government forcing private institutions to include birth control as forms of health care. I want and am lucky to have health care, but I do not want big government coming in and giving me contraception. The government is actually the last place where I want my forms of contraception to come from. And it’s not just that I think forcing an institution of the Church to do so is a crime and a shame, it very much actually is a crime and a shame.


This blatant violation of our rights under the Constitution comes from the person who just last week flashed his toothy, likeable, schoolboy smile and announced to the citizens of this great nation, “I deserve a second term”. He is also the same person who, by virtue of the office that he holds, was invited to deliver the commencement speech at one of the most prestigious Catholic universities in America in total disregard of his abominable record on the abortion issue.

Many Catholics thought that it was an unforgivable mistake for the president of Notre Dame University to extend an invitation to him to deliver that speech and present him with an honorary degree. History has proven them right. If he does deserve a second term, I certainly hope that he does not achieve it on votes cast by the same 54% of Catholic voters who were smitten by his charm and his considerable oratory skills in 2008 and were rewarded with his very high level of arrogance and disdain for their strongly held religious beliefs.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Open Letter to Gerry Adams , Danny Morrison Jim Gibney, Martin McGuinness, Tom Hartley, and Bik McFarlane.

We welcome the fact that Danny Morrision has broken his silence and has given some insight into the events of the first week of July 1981 concerning the hunger strike in Long Kesh. In that light we would like to ask a few questions in the hope of getting answers that may finally put to rest the events surrounding the tragic deaths of our loved ones.
Danny has stated that he relayed the contents of an offer to the PIRA prison OC, Bik McFarlane, on July 5 1981. Richard O'Rawe, the prison PRO, has said that Bik sent him down a comm detailing what was on offer, and that he said to Bik "Ta go leor ann.'' (There is enough there). This has been verified to some of our families by two ex-Blanketmen who had been there on the wing and heard the words. Also, Bik himself, in a press interview in 2009, finally admitted he had had a conversation with Richard, and that he thought the Brit offer was "amazing." In light of this, we must assume that Bik made his and Richard's views known to their outside leadership. What we would like to know is:

Q1 Why was this not accepted?
Q2 Who, on the outside overrode Bik's authority?
Q3 Why was the Hunger Strike allowed to continue, on direction from the outside (not the POWs)?
Q4 Mrs McDonnell asked Gerry Adams to save her son's life to end to the Hunger Strike by ordering the POWs off it. Mr Adams' reply was that he did not have the authority to do this. Who had the authority (Brendan McLaughlin was ordered off it due to his medical condition)?
Q6 Why was the IRSP (who were joint participants in the Hunger Strike) not informed about the offer through Mountain Climber?
Q7 The British sent you their offer (to be released upon the ending of the Hunger Strike) in the form of dictated statements on the 6th and 20th of July. Why were these statements never shown to the POWs?

Q8 Who took the decision to withhold the statements from the hunger strikers and the prison leadership?
Q9 On the 29th of July, Gerry Adams told the mother and father of Kieran Doherty, and the hunger strikers, that ''there was no deal on the table, no movement of any sort'' despite him being at the centre of on-going communications/negotiations with the Brits from July 4th to July 20th. Why did Adams deliberately mislead the hunger strikers? Did he think that they might call off their fast if they found out what was really happening? We should not forget that four of those men who listened and joked with Adams, went on to die horrible deaths in total ignorance of what the British were offering.

In Danny Morrison's recent letter he spoke of the 'families pain'. Danny can't even hope to imagine the pain felt by some of our families. We, the undersigned, believe that the Hunger Strike was prolonged when an honourable settlement was available, a settlement that would have saved the lives of six brave men.
We called for an independent inquiry three years ago, asking all those involved in this matter to attend. Only Richard O'Rawe and the late Dr. Garrett FitzGerald said they would attend. We once again call for on Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison, Jim Gibney, Martin McGuinness, Tom Hartley, and BikMcFarlane to attend. The least we deserve, is a reason why they won't attend, and failing that, they could provide answers to our above questions

Is sinne

Peggy and Tony O Hara. Michael and Louise Devine


The letter above was sent to me with a request to circulate it here in the U.S. by my friend Tony O’Hara and his mother. Peggy and Tony O’Hara are the mother and brother of Patsy O’Hara, the fourth brave, young Irish patriot to die in the 1981 Hunger Strike in Long Kesh Concentration Camp. In light of some of the recent revelations that have been made public regarding the circumstances surrounding that horrific tragedy, it does not seem unreasonable to honor his request to circulate this letter. Each person who reads the letter should form his/her own opinion.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New move means Irish E3 visa bill now likely to pass senate

‘No reason not to pass this bill’ -- Senator Chuck Schumer

Niall O’Dowd - IrishCentral - February 1, 2012

The prospects of passage for an E-3 visa bill allowing up to 10,000 Irish a year to come and work permanently in the U.S. have increased dramatically this week.

On Tuesday New York Senator Charles Schumer hotlined the bill in the Senate, meaning that he is seeking unanimous consent for its passage.

The bill, known informally as the Schumer/Leahy/Durbin bill, is attached to other legislation which would allow more skilled hi-tech workers from China, India and Mexico into the U.S.

In its original form, without the Irish component, the hi-tech bill passed the House 319-14, with Silicon Valley companies in particular playing a major lobbying role.

However, when that bill came to the Senate, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa placed a hold on it. The Irish lobby then became involved, demanding an Irish E-3 bill.

Reacting to that, Schumer introduced the Irish amendment which would allow the E-3 visas.
E-3s are temporary work visas that allow individuals or married couples to come to U.S. with a job offer and work legally for two years at a time. The visa is indefinitely renewable.

Fifty-three U.S. senators, all Democrats, signed up to support it, while it is believed that up to eight Republican senators are now also in favor.

The bill hotlined on Tuesday has removed the automatic waiver for those who are undocumented.

But former Congressman Bruce Morrison, who is the chief lobbyist on the Irish side, stated that discretionary waivers could still be achieved even under the current law.

Morrison rated chances for passage of the current bill as “better than 50/50,” but stated chances were “very good” for an overall or revised bill at some point.

Attention now switches to the Republicans in the Senate, where up to eight senators led by Scott Brown of Massachusetts have indicated that they are in favor of the bill, which would give it a filibuster-proof majority.

Attention will be focused on Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader who will be key in getting the bill passed.

Martin Brennan, New York State director for Schumer, has appealed for Irish Americans to lobby local senators to help pass the bill.

“Senator Schumer is very committed to this legislation,” he said. “We truly believe we can get it passed.”

In a statement to Irish Central Senator Schumer said “The time is now to pass this common-sense bill that improves the fairness and efficiency of our immigration system, while also including a mutual visa exchange with America’s long-time ally, Ireland.


This watered down debacle is a classic example of "St. Patrick'sDay is coming give them something to keep them quiet” except in this case, the something might as well be nothing without the waiver provision. It was was the only thing in Schumer's Bill S-1983 that made it anywhere near acceptable. Without it, our undocumented Irish nationals have been made “collateral damage” once again. Contrary to the first sentence in the article above, there is nothing permanent about the E-3 Visas. They are temporary non-immigrant work permits. This bill is an absolute disgrace foisted upon those whom we were all originally pledged to support.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America