Last week, US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) met with a delegation from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and the New Jersey AOH leadership at his Newark office for a focused discussion on immigration reform and the Irish context to that issue.  The group thanked the Senator for his longstanding commitment to the Irish community throughout his political career, including his service in the House of Representatives and since becoming a U.S. Senator.

Led by ILIR president Ciaran Staunton, the group discussed the continuing plight of the thousands of Irish undocumented around the country, including many in New Jersey. 
 They assured Senator Menendez of their support for his work on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), and pledged to continue to actively campaign to get CIR passed early in 2010. Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform meeting with Senator Menendez  Bruce Morrison (ILIR Government Affairs Consultant), Margaret O’Keeffe (New Jersey ILIR Liaison), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jere Cole (NJ AOH State President), Bill Young (NJ AOH State Treasurer), Ciaran Staunton (President, ILIR)

The Senator expressed his concern that the window of opportunity is closing for this Congress and a delay could forestall passage of CIR for several years.  All agreed that working closely with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Immigration Subcommittee chairman, to bring CIR to the Senate floor early in the New Year was a priority.
The ILIR representatives also discussed the need for an Irish E-3 visa category to serve the needs of the many Irish intent on coming to work in the U.S. to be able to do so legally.  Senator Menendez assured the group of his support for this E-3 provision as part of any CIR bill.
The meeting with Senator Menendez follows on from a series of successful meetings ILIR has had with important US law makers that will be at the center of any immigration reform legislation.  These have included Senators Schumer, Graham and now Menendez in addition to Speaker Pelosi, Congress members Lofgren, Gutierrez, Delahunt and others.

 ILIR Chairman, Bart Murphy commented: “ILIR’s strategy for 2009 has been to take our case directly to US political leaders that serve on key Senate and Congressional committees that deal with immigration.  We have successfully brought the Irish dimension to the immigration debate in these meetings, voicing our support for comprehensive reform generally and the importance of an Irish E-3 visa going forward.  It is very heartening to see that every political leader we’ve met during this process has committed their support to passage of CIR that includes an Irish E-3 provision.”

Staunton added, “We are grateful for the support, commitment and partnership of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in these meetings. They have been just fantastic in their support of the Irish undocumented and the need for reform”.  “We are pushing hard in support of an immigration bill to be introduced early in 2010 but are in the queue behind the health care reform bill, climate change and a jobs bill.  Fingers crossed!” 2012