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    Mother writes of son’s impending emigration

    Monday, June 29th, 2009

    Patricia Leahy has written an extremely powerful article in today’s Irish Times about her son’s upcoming emigration. Leahy herself moved to Ireland 28 years ago; she is the daughter of Irish emigrants who left for New York in the 1940s. Seven decades later, after being unemployed for a year, her son is following in her father’s footsteps.

    Leahy knows that her son’s emigration isn’t likely to sunder his link with Ireland:

    As for his future, whether he stays or returns to Ireland, I hope the experience for him makes him grow into a man he can be proud of. I also hope it will heighten an appreciation of his country, culture and kinship.

    Maybe it already has. Since he made the decision to emigrate, his musical tastes have switched from rap, rock and house music to that of The Dubliners, The Furey Brothers and The Wolfe Tones.

    I am quite sure that Ireland hasn’t lost another son.

    A deeply moving piece.

    Irish Times: Irishwoman’s Diary

    Crosscare Migrant Project, CIIC publish J-1 information leaflet

    Thursday, June 25th, 2009

    The Crosscare Migrant Project (formerly Emigrant Advice) has published its information leaflet for students going to the US on a J-1 visa this summer, while the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres has produced its predeparture leaflet containing information on social security numbers, accommodation, jobs and safe travelling.

    The CMP leaflet warns students that this year, the US Department of State has warned that this summer’s job market will be weak, so preparation is more important than ever.

    See the leaflets:

    Rooney begins US ambassador confirmation hearings

    Thursday, June 25th, 2009

    American businessman and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney has begun the Senate confirmation process to become the US ambassador to Ireland. The 76-year-old Republican, who supported Obama in the presidential elections, is a popular pick and reports say he could be confirmed next week.

    He told yesterday’s confirmation hearing that he would travel widely throughout Ireland if he were confirmed, and would work on increasing American investment in Ireland and Irish investment in America. Rooney also discussed a proposed visa programme that would allow Irish people to work for two years in the US, and also discussed the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

    Rooney is also a co-founder of the Ireland Funds.

    Related web pages:

    White House says immigration reform now “difficult”

    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

    The White House acknowledged yesterday that immigration reform looks unlikely this year. Press secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I can see the president’s desire for it to happen, but understanding at the current – currently where we sit, the math makes that more difficult than – than the discussion”. Mr Gibbs said that Mr Obama hopes that “later this year that we can have the beginning of formal debate on that”.

    He added that Mr Obama “hopes that immigration reform will happen soon, but doesn’t have a crystal ball as to when that might happen”.

    Mr Gibbs’ comments follow Mr Obama’s comments on Thursday that he is “committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform as president of the United States”. He made the remarks at a prayer breakfast attended by Hispanic leaders. He also said:

    “The American people believe in immigration. But they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law – nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages. And that’s why we’re taking steps to strengthen border security, and we must build on those efforts.

    “We must also clarify the status of millions who are here illegally, many who have put down roots. For those who wish to become citizens, we should require them to pay a penalty and pay taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line, behind those who played by the rules. That is the fair, practical and promising way forward. And that’s what I’m committed to passing as president of the United States.”

    Mr Obama will host a bipartisan meeting on the topic on Thursday – a meeting which has been twice postponed.  It has been widely reported that the president is prioritising health care reform and the economic crisis over immigration reform.

    Related websites:

    NY Irish centre gets government green light

    Monday, June 22nd, 2009

    An Irish centre that would encompass arts, cultural and business matters in New York City will go ahead, according to an article in the Irish Echo. The center has been a matter of discussion for many years, with Gabriel Byrne spearheading the publicity drive.

    The Irish goverment’s commitment to the centre was confirmed by Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen. He said the government would give 170,000 to the centre for an initial planning phase; the centre will ultimately cost as much as $30 million. Cullen noted that the planning process would take a number of years and that by the time it was ready to build he hoped that an upbeat economy would ease funding.

    The newspaper quoted from its interview with Gabriel Byrne last summer, in which Byrne described his vision for the centre:

    “A new center would encourage not just the importation of current Irish culture, and diverse current Irish culture, but would encourage the development of a unique Irish American cultural voice, this while we would have the place to do it which is also a business center, where people from Ireland could come in and do business, where Irish people could get together socially,” was how Byrne described the proposed center.

    “Of course it’s a sensitive time economically to be asking for money. But this is the best time to invest, not just in this notion of an Irish identity and culture, but in the brand of Ireland.

    “It just needs a commitment from the Irish government to support this. The government are behind it, in theory. It just needs that final push to make it happen. You really have to envision it as a temple on the hill. We would have to make a place of welcome, not just for Irish Americans. It would reach out to all cultures, a place of light and welcome,” Byrne said at the time.

    Read the article in the Irish Echo: Center’s a go

    A look at unemployment rates in destination countries

    Monday, June 15th, 2009

    With the increasing number of news reports about unemployed people seeking to emigrate, it’s useful to look at unemployment rates in a number of destination countries. These are, of course, only guidelines – no doubt there are national differences in the methods of compiling these statistics that make it difficult to make accurate comparisons.

    Ireland’s unemployment rate is 11.8%. Here are the rates in some of the countries most commonly considered by those seeking to emigrate:

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