In many saw as a small but significant victory for advocates of US immigration, the United States Senate passed the much-discussed pro-immigration bill by a substantial margin. The Democrat-led bill, which includes a number of changes to United States immigration policy, especially in relation to illegal immigrants already living in the United States, has not yet won over key figures in the Republican-led House of Representatives, where it is headed next.
The disagreement between parties is not necessarily over the questions of whether reform is necessary but rather, what kind of reform is best. So far, the Democrats have produced a bill that many see as beneficial to both domestic residents and immigrants to the United States, receiving substantial support from many in the population. It still, however, lacks adequate support from the place that matters most: the House of Representatives. After a number of Representatives opposing the reform have vowed that the bill will be "dead on arrival," the Democratic advocates of the bill are desperately searching for support that could help its chances in the vote at the House.
In light of the fact that a majority of immigration into the United States, both legal and illegal, has been largely from Latin America and Asia, Democrats may have found an unlikely friend among Irish lobbyists for immigration reform. Leaders of the group known as the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform are confident in their ability to influence members of the House to vote in the bill and change immigration policy for what they believe is for the better.
Many believe that having an Irish connection could help encourage Republicans to see the good that is in the bill. Having immigrated to the United States up to 50 years ago, a substantial portion of the Irish-American population would not be here if immigration limitations back then were as stringent as they are now. This is demonstrated by the steep decline of Irish immigration to the United States that has occurred in since 1965. The history, influence and friendly ties that Irish descendants have with key figures could provide the bill with the "good press" it needs as it approaches the House for the final verdict.
The bill includes a number of updates in every aspect of United States immigration policy. The change that has attracted the most attention is the path to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States who arrived prior to December 2011. However, before documentation can be granted to those individuals, the bill will require the allocation of billions in improving border patrol. This will include everything from increased manpower, over 700 miles of new fencing and a number of new electronic surveillance technologies. The bill also includes changes in employment visa programs such as a new start-up visa for foreign entrepreneurs, improved programs for low-skilled worker visas and mandatory E-Verify participation by employers of foreign nationals in the United States.
The enthusiasm and passion coming from Irish groups serves to show that the issue of immigration reform is not isolated to one ethnic group, such as Hispanics or Asians, but it will have a global impact on immigrants wishing to travel to the United States from all over the world. The Irish are joining forces with other supporters in promoting improved and efficient immigration procedures, hoping to see this bill pass despite a House of Representatives controlled by the Republican party.