Saturday, January 26, 2013

Obama to announce an Immigration Reform Plan        
President Obama will debut his plans for comprehensive immigration reform at an event Tuesday in Las Vegas, the White House said Friday.
In a statement, the White House said the president's proposal would call for legislation to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Obama held a strategy session Friday with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, telling the lawmakers that reform efforts would be "a top priority" in his second term.
"The President was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship," the White House statement said. "The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay."
The White House described Obama's trip to Nevada on Tuesday as an opportunity to "redouble" efforts to fix the immigration system within the next year.
Among those in attendance at Friday's White House meeting with Obama were Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), House Democratic Caucus Chair Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).
"After today’s meeting, it’s clear that President Obama is determined to fix our long broken immigration system," Becerra said in a statement following the meeting. "The President expressed a great sense of urgency and that comprehensive immigration reform, including an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, is his top legislative priority."
The CHC developed a nine-point immigration plan earlier this year, and that is likely to serve as the template for the president's immigration reform efforts.
"Immigrants need action now and immigration reform cannot wait," Gutierrez said in a statement after the White House meeting. "We have a unique opportunity to finally put our government on the side of hard-working immigrants. We all need to work together — the President and Congress, Republicans and Democrats — to get something done right away."
The caucus's ambitious overhaul calls for a pathway to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants, new work visas for skilled professionals, and the establishment of an employment verification system. The Associated Press reported Friday that that the White House will debut its plan separate from a bipartisan Senate working group that also hopes to outline its proposals next week.
The president has said that he is "very confident that we can get immigration reform done" and suggested he would debut his plan early in his second term.
"I think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we’ve taken, because we have to secure our borders," Obama said at a press conference shortly after winning re-election.
"I think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. And I do think that there should be a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work." Earlier this month, White House press secretary Jay Carney hinted that Obama would use his upcoming State of the Union address to push for reform.
"I would say, broadly speaking, that State of the Union addresses tend to include at least a sample of a president's agenda," Carney said at his daily press briefing. "And immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform, is a very high priority of the president's. But I don't want to get ahead of the speech."
Republicans have also been aggressive in pushing new immigration reforms, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) spearheading efforts.
In interviews earlier this month, Rubio called for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already in the United States. Under the plan, immigrants would likely be assessed a fine and back taxes, undergo a background check and work through a lengthy probationary period.
That's a break from some Republicans, who have suggested that a pathway to citizenship would be tantamount to amnesty for illegal immigrants. But it's also a far more conservative plan than the one advocated by the White House, and one that has gained traction among top conservative leaders, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).
Carney said last week that Rubio's comments "bode well" for striking a deal on reform.
"We are encouraged — referring now to recent reports ‚ that Senator Rubio's thinking — as reported — so closely reflects the president's blueprint for reform," Carney said. "The president has long called for partners from both sides of the aisle. And he has lamented the absence of partners from the other side of the aisle. It used to be a bipartisan pursuit, comprehensive immigration reform. For a while, it ceased to be. But he certainly hopes that it will be in the future."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Friday argued Republicans must embrace comprehensive reform.
“In some conservative circles, the word 'comprehensive' in the context of immigration reform is an epithet — a code word for amnesty. People who oppose such reform declare that securing the United States border must come before moving toward broader reform,” Bush and conservative immigration scholar Clint Bolick wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
“Such an approach is shortsighted and self-defeating."
It is very refreshing to see that we are getting back to basics and talking about resolving the plight of undocumented residents of the U.S. as the very necessary first step in any attempts to “fix our broken immigration system”. Congress has been dancing around the issue and sweeping it under the rug for far too long. The time has long since passed for them to “take the bull by the horns” and get it done.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Brother & Sister Hibernians,
It is with great sadness and a very sincere and profound feeling of loss that I have learned of the passing of Brother Jim Magee. Jim served as National Legal Counsel during my term as A.O.H. National President and neither I nor the Ancient Order of Hibernians could have asked for a more loyal and learned colleague. I will be forever grateful for his service in that capacity, but more importantly, as a friend and kindred spirit on our many trips to Ireland to participate in the Bloody Sunday Commemorative Marches in Derry.
My deepest condolences are extended to Jim's family and please be assured that Jim and yourselves will be in my thoughts and prayers and those of the Meehan family as you go through this very difficult time of loss.
Go ndeana Dia trocaire ar Seamus agus go dtuga Dia suaimhneas siorai a anam dilis.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Inez McCormack - R.I.P.
ALF McCrery - 22 January 2013
 Inez McCormack, who died yesterday after a short illness, was a leading trade unionist and a champion of women’s rights who was well-known for her work in Northern Ireland and much further afield. She was 66.
She was a forceful character, who consistently sought to improve the working conditions of a wide range of people and she also campaigned successfully on many human rights issues.
She was the founder and an adviser to the Participation and the Practice of Rights organisation (PPR), which provided support to local disadvantaged communities and groups in using a rights-based approach.
Her local and international reputation was such that she was honoured by a portrayal of her career by Meryl Streep in a play on Broadway.
In 2011, she was named by Newsweek magazine, along with Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and others, as one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World.”
Inez McCormack was born in Belfast in 1946, and left school at 16. She later studied social work at Queen’s University, Belfast and at Trinity College, Dublin.
Her distinguished trade union career began in the late-1960s and she became the first female president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
She was a signatory to the MacBride Principles, a code of conduct for US companies investing in Northern Ireland, which stressed the importance of religious equality in employment.
She also played a pivotal role behind the scenes in gaining trade union support for the Good Friday Agreement and helping to shape its provisions on equality issues.
She also made a significant contribution to the implementation of equal opportunities and fair employment in the workplace.
McCormack played a major trade union role with NUPE and latterly with Unison.
Paying tribute, Patricia McKeown, of Unison, said: “She was held in the highest regard across the international trade union movement.
“Her vindication lies in the fact that many of the issues on which she broke the mould are now seen as safe ground for those who came later.
“She has left us, but only in the flesh. Inez will never leave us in spirit.”
Mark Durkan, the former SDLP leader and Foyle MP, said: “Inez was impressive and effective in all she did. She stood for workers’ rights, for women’s rights, for equality and public services.
“Her positive outlook, compelling analysis and valid stances won her international recognition as a standard-bearer for social justice and a role model for all who seek economic emancipation.”
She was a deeply committed person who formed strong personal relationships and she was a friend of many leading public figures, including Hillary Clinton and Irish presidents Mary Robinson and Michael D Higgins.
Her human rights work was recognised internationally and she won many awards, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from New York City in 1997, an honorary degree from Queen’s University in 2000, and the Aisling Person of the Year Community Award in 2001.
She was married for more than 40 years to Vinny, who survives her with their daughter Anne, son-in-law Mark and grandchildren Maisie and Jamie.
Comment:     Inez McCormack was a truly remarkable woman, totally dedicated to civil rights and the trade unionist movement. Her extensive work over many years in these pursuits brought her to many places. Back in the day, she was a frequent visitor and lecturer in her chosen field. She participated in numerous seminars and lecture series here in the U.S. A. Over the years, I was privileged to have met Inez on several of her trips to Boston and other venues.
     Her deeply held views were quite evident in the dedication and zeal that she enthusiastically exhibited for the civil rights for the downtrodden, not only in the North of Ireland, but all over the world. Women of Inez McCormack’s caliber are few and far between and the lives of those who knew her were much richer for having had that privilege.
Go ndeana Dia trocaire ar Inez agus go dtuga Dia suaimhneas siorai a anam.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America