“Gang of 8” to keep a viable Irish component in Comprehensive Immigration Reform.


The Preamble in our AOH National Constitution, Item 7 states that a main purpose of our
To encourage an equitable U.S. immigration law for Ireland, and to cooperate with groups for a fair American Immigration Policy. I, like so many Hibernians before me, have spent much of my life working towards the day when we can fulfill the requirements of our Preamble. I am grateful for the opportunity of the past three years of working as your National Immigration Chairman as entrusted to me by National President Brendan Moore and previously by PNP Seamus Boyle.

During the past three years, a “Coalition on Irish Immigration Reform” was formed and comprised of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, the Embassy of Ireland, Catholic clergy and the AOH, represented by me as your National Immigration Chairman. Together, we have worked to secure a legal path for Irelands’ undocumented and secure future flow for Irish immigrants. Much of this work was behind the scenes and without publicity due to the emotions and mood of the US on immigration. Many times we depended on individuals in our organizations to facilitate contact, meetings and dialog with legislators, labor leaders and other lobbyists to carve out an Irish element to immigration reform.

Earlier today the coalition of US Congressmen known as the Gang of 8 unveiled their Immigration Bill known as The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Act. Seen as a rare time of cooperation in a historically divided Congress, the Bill addresses sweeping changes to our outdated and arcane immigration laws and border security. Our Coalition worked hard to lobby the “Gang of 8” to keep a viable Irish component in Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Today, I can tell you that we were successful in that regard.

Many of the people that will benefit from the new bill are not from Ireland, but it does indeed address the future flow of Irish Immigrants. This will be provided by adding real visas for anyone from Ireland who has at least a high school education or its equivalent, or has, within 5 years, at least 2 years of work experience in an occupation which requires at least 2 years of training or experience.

The bill also removes the plight of the undocumented Irish by allowing them, an albeit slow, but legal path to US citizenship. The undocumented Irish will be allowed to travel home to visit Ireland, and live and work legally in the US while they await their green cards, and ultimately US citizenship. The undocumented must have been in the US before December 31, 2011 to qualify.

Brothers, don’t be confused by debates over immigrant and “non-immigrant” visas with regards to the Irish. The reform bill addresses many of our concerns on paths to citizenship that previous “stand alone” bills denied. Comprehensive Immigration Reform is now possible and Irish people will have a real opportunity from this legislation to create a new life for themselves in our great National and to continue to contribute to the important bonds between Ireland and the US.

Today is just the beginning of the future work of the Coalition and our Order on this great effort. I will be asking you, your appointed Immigration Chairmen and our Brothers and Sisters to help in attaining the successful passing of this reform in the coming months. Right now you can call your legislators and urge them to support this bill, the ‘‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,’’ that provides future flow for Irish immigrants and ends the plight of our undocumented. Feel free to ask me any questions that you may have regarding the Bill or how you may help.

Yours in Our Motto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity,

Dan Dennehy
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America Inc.
National Immigration