06 April 2006

Hope for undocumented Irish in US


06/04/2006 - 20:40:44

Tens of thousands of Irish people living illegally in the US may benefit after the Senate agreed a new Immigration Reform Bill.

The comprehensive document could provide a path to permanency for the majority of the undocumented Irish in the US.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said he was encouraged that the leaders of both parties in the US Senate agreed the outline of the Bill.

“The compromise has been welcomed by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain and the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. Negotiations are continuing on the details and it is expected that the Bill will be voted on by the Senate by the weekend,” Mr Ahern said.

“Once a Bill is passed by the Senate, it will then have to be reconciled with the Bill passed by the House of Representatives last December.”

He said the proposal contained many of the key elements of the Kennedy/McCain Bill and would be welcomed by the undocumented Irish.

The deal would allow illegal immigrants who have been in the US for more than five years a chance to become a citizen if they meet certain requirements and pay a fine.

Other rules would apply for those in the US for less than five years.

The overhaul would also include a temporary worker programme.

Mr Ahern said: “The Government will continue to remain very actively involved in the critical period ahead, and I would intend to travel to Washington to meet the key players in the House and Senate in advance of the reconciliation process.”

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