Representatives Joe Crowley (NY-14), Richard Neal (MA-1), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4), Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Bill Keating (MA-9), along with former Congressman and Irish immigration advocate Bruce Morrison, joined together yesterday in a press conference to express strong support for comprehensive immigration reform. The members joined the calls of thousands of pro-immigration reform advocates that converged today on Washington, D.C., calling for adoption of comprehensive immigration reform (See photos attached above).
Irish immigrants have a long, proud tradition in the U.S., contributing to our society at every level and helping to shape our nation into what it is today. Today's immigrants have carried on this legacy, but unfortunately many are now without legal status. According to current estimates, there are 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants in the U.S.
"Immigration reform doesn't affect just one nationality or one ethnic group -- it affects us all," said Rep. Joe Crowley. "Right now there are immigrants from all around the world -- including Ireland -- here in our country, hoping for the opportunity to come out of the shadows, live and work without fear, and give back to their community. They are business owners, students and families who want nothing more than to continue a long and proud tradition of coming to America and becoming part of the fabric of our society. And, that's what we are working toward with comprehensive immigration reform."
"I believe Congress can act in a bipartisan manner and can pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. Our current immigration system is simply not working and it needs to be fixed. A legal path to citizenship must be created for these 11 million aspiring Americans, including the 50,000 undocumented Irish. The vast majority of Americans want to see action taken on this important issue now," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
"Whether it's work visas, family unification or access to higher education, the Irish along with every immigrant group here today are facing tough obstacles in their quest to become full and productive members of American society. This is a nation of immigrants and we're all stronger when we treat everyone with dignity and respect, and that's why we are united in supporting comprehensive immigration reform," said Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
"Immigration reform is not just an Irish cause or a Hispanic cause or any one group's cause -- it's an American cause," said Congressman Joe Kennedy. "In the weeks and months ahead we will be fighting harder than ever for a country that finds its spirit and strength in diversity."
"Like many nationalities, the Irish have many undocumented immigrants in our midst who are trapped by complex rules from becoming legal. We need a comprehensive bill that provides them with legal status, so that they can continue to contribute to our communities while living within the law. And we need an immigration system for the future that allows immigrants to come legally in sufficient numbers to provide the new energy and new workers that America continues to need," said former Congressman Bruce Morrison.
"It is time to reframe an often emotional debate to one that focuses on the fact that legal immigration brings significant cultural and economic gains to the US. It is important to the Irish-American community -- and to the nation at-large. Our faith communities and our businesses are calling for comprehensive reform, and both parties need to commit themselves to get this work done. The time to act is now," said Congressman Tim Ryan.
"The stories of our country's Irish immigrants are shared tales of the pursuit for a better life. I was proud to be one of the many Irish-American voices that must be heard as we progress toward comprehensive immigration reform, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to further this conversation," said Congressman Bill Keating.