Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, is to travel to Capitol Hill in Washington DC to lobby influential Republican Congress members on immigration reform.
Crowe is travelling as part of a four person cross-party delegation drawn from members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Speaking this morning ahead of his departure Deputy Crowe said:
“Ten years ago I travelled to Washington DC with a cross-party delegation to lobby on this very same issue. Unfortunately with an election looming we were unsuccessful at that particular time, but since then there has been a significant shift in US politics and there is now a real palpable chance that immigration reform could become a reality.
“We are all aware of the significant amount of Irish in the USA, and unfortunately an estimated 50,000 are now living there undocumented and since 9/11 are in a very precarious position.
“Immigration reform would be hugely beneficial for this group of Irish immigrants and there has been cross party support right across this island in favour of seeing immigration reform pass successfully through the US Congress.
“Huge work has been undertaken on this issue by Irish diaspora groups in the USA, especially the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.
“We hope our visit will complement that work and bring about a legal pathway towards recognition and eventual citizenship for those caught up in this awful dilemma.
“We believe it is also vitally important that our delegation focuses on the need for creation of a new ‘E3 visa’ for a new generation that needs to travel looking for work. The E3 visa would open a secure route to immigration for Irish citizens and hopefully allow 10,500 Irish workers to legally enter the USA every year.
“This legal pathway would overnight stop the creation of more undocumented Irish traveling illegally to work in the future.
“The huge levels of emigration from Ireland in recent years has severely impacted on many families and created a brain drain in our economy. Sinn Féin’s priority is to ensure that the austerity policies this government are introducing, which are forcing tens of thousands of citizens to emigrate every year, are reversed.
“However it is essential that those who have no choice and are forced to emigrate are given the best supports possible so they don’t end up in perilous and illegal migration situations, as has happened so often in the past.
“Hopefully this trip will convey how important immigration reform is to Ireland, Irish-America and Irish citizens, and that our small efforts can go some way to pushing this reform package over the line.”