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    DREAM Act goes to US Senate

    Monday, July 16th, 2007

    The DREAM Act will be introduced into the Senate this week, as an amendment to the Department of Defence Authorisation bill currently being debated.

     The move follows the defeat of the efforts for comprehensive immigration reform, and demonstrates how immigrant advocates are shifting their efforts to the passage of legislation that will assist immigrants on a more limited basis.

    The DREAM Act would provide a path to legal residency and eventual citizenship for individuals who came to the US as undocumented children; they would need to graduate from high school and continue on to college or military service.

    The Justice for Immigrants group is urging supporters to ring and email their senators. Geri Garvey adds,

    “We expect anti-immigrant groups to spread falsehoods about the DREAM Act and to try to inflame their base to intimidate Senators like they did in the recent Senate debate about immigration reform. But DREAM Act supporters are passionate too. We can and must fight back and match their intensity.”

     Visit these sites for Senate contact information:

    Irish undocumented speak of frustrated hopes

    Monday, July 2nd, 2007

    The Sunday Business Post carries an article on the failure of the US immigration reform efforts.  The article, by Susan Mitchell, interviews several undocumented Irish immigrants, who described the pain of being unable to return home for visits.

    Read the article.

    Immigration reform efforts to continue, says ILIR leader

    Monday, July 2nd, 2007

    Leading US immigration reform campainger and Irish Voice publisher Niall O’Dowd has urged those fighting for change to continue their efforts.

    In a statement on the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform website, Mr O’Dowd says that the issue of comprehensive immigration reform is dead until after the November 2008 elections. He has indicated that the group may pursue another strategy: “We need to follow another path in order to achieve our aims. We were unable to do that while comprehensive reform, involving 12 million undocumented, was under consideration”.

    Mr O’Dowd adds that it took three years to win passage of the Morrison visas in the late 1980s. He says he appreciates the response of the Irish government and says the group will now be calling on powerful friends in Congress.

    Read the full statement at the Irish Lobby’s website.

    Justice for Immigrants urges action following cloture vote

    Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

    The immigration reform bill which was reintroduced in the US Senate has passed the first of many hurdles; yesterday the first cloture vote to proceed passed by a vote of 64-35.  The Justice for Immigrants campaign has issued an alert urging all Americans to call their senators.  Here is the text of the alert:

    Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office now.Ask them to:
    Support family-reunification amendments

    • Amendment # 1199 (Dodd): This would increase the number of visas that are available for parents of U.S. citizens, and would extend the number of days each year that non-immigrant parents could visit families in the United States.      
    • Amendment # 1317 (Menendez): This would modify the point system to give greater weight to family ties for green-card applicants.  Family members could receive up to fifteen points in their application, rather than the ten points that would currently be given to family members in the base bill.

    Support a workable legalization program

    • Amendment # 1236 (Baucus-Tester): This amendment would strike provisions that make the bill’s legalization program dependent upon the systematic implementation of REAL ID documents.  Several states have already passed laws rejecting to implement REAL ID; additionally, best estimates are that this program would take many years and billions of dollars to execute.  This amendment would set more realistic goals and expectations for when the legalization program could take effect.

    Oppose provisions endangering vulnerable immigrants

    • Amendment # 1473 (Coleman):  This is a slightly modified version of an amendment that was narrowly defeated in this year’s Senate immigration debate.  In spite of these changes, the amendment would still prevent local law enforcement officials from choosing to afford certain protections to vulnerable immigrants who are preyed upon by criminals. 

    Visit the Justice for Immigrants campaign.

    US immigration bill to be reintroduced

    Friday, June 15th, 2007

    The US immigration bill will be reintroduced, apparently. Geri Garvey of the Irish Apostolate has forwarded this statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell:

    “We met this evening with several of the Senators involved in the immigration bill negotiations. Based on that discussion, the immigration bill will return to the Senate floor after completion of the energy bill.?

    Convicted fraudster scams Irish undocumented

    Thursday, May 31st, 2007

    There has been substantial media coverage of the case of Ralph Cucciniello, who scammed millions of dollars from 200 undocumented immigrants. Mr Cucciniello posed as a lawyer working with Yale Immigration Law Clinic, and promised undocumented Irish immigrants that he would get them papers in return for a $5,000 fee.

    But Cucciniello was not a lawyer, and the Yale Immigration Law Clinic was a fictitious entity. The 545-year-old was a volunteer research assistant at the university, who had several prior fraud convictions. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 1996 but never served the time because he was placed in the federal witness protection program. He has other fraud convictions dating back three decades.

    Many of his estimated 200 victims are reportedly afraid to come forward. His crimes were uncovered after one of them contacted Olwyn Triggs, an Irish private investigator who works in New York. Ms Triggs contacted police officials, who filed charges on May 2. Ms Triggs has been trying to convince victims to speak with the police, but many fear deportation.

    The story was broken by the Irish Voice in New York but achieved international prominence when it was reported in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune this week. RTÉ interviewed Irish Voice publisher Niall O’Dowd on the issue today.

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