Thursday, March 16, 2006
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES An Irish Face on the Cause of Citizenship
By NINA BERNSTEIN Rory Dolan's, a restaurant in Yonkers, was packed with hundreds of illegal Irish immigrants on that rainy Friday night in January when the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform called its first meeting. Niall O'Dowd, the chairman, soon had them cheering. "You're not just some guy or some woman in the Bronx, you're part of a movement," Mr. O'Dowd told the crowd of construction workers, students and nannies. He was urging them to support a piece of Senate legislation that would let them work legally toward citizenship, rather than punishing them with prison time, as competing bills would. For months, coalitions of Latino, Asian and African immigrants from 50 countries have been championing the same measure with scant attention, even from New York's Democratic senators. But the Irish struck out on their own six weeks ago, and as so often before in the history of American immigration policy, they have landed center stage. Last week, when Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer declared their support for a new path to citizenship, and denounced criminal penalties recently passed by the House of Representatives, they did so not at the large, predominantly Hispanic immigrant march on Washington, but at the much smaller Irish rally held there the following day. For the rest of the story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/16/nyregion/16irish.html?ei=5070&en=be59a64ca3f1b93d&ex=1143176400&emc=eta1&pagewanted=print
KJ Some in the immigrant coalitions resent being passed over, and worry that the Irish are angling for a separate deal. Others welcome the clout and razzmatazz the Irish bring to a beleaguered cause. And both groups can point to an extraordinary Irish track record of lobbying triumphs, like the creation of thousands of special visas in the 1980's and 90's that one historian of immigration, Roger Daniels, calls "affirmative action for white Europeans."