Minister for Foreign Affairs Welcomes Breakthrough in US Immigration Debate
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, T.D., has warmly welcomed the agreement reached today in the US Senate on immigration reform.
The Minister said:
“I am greatly encouraged by the announcement earlier today that leaders of both parties in the US Senate have agreed the broad outline of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would provide a path to permanent residency for the majority of the undocumented Irish in the United States. In this way, today's proposal has many of the key elements of the Kennedy / McCain bill, a fact that will be greatly welcomed by the undocumented Irish, and their families in Ireland.
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.
I would like to commend Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, and Minority Leader, Harry Reid, and all those involved in brokering this agreement. In particular, I would like again to warmly congratulate and thank Senators Kennedy and McCain. 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. We cannot know what the final outcome will be, and we can anticipate further lively exchanges on Capitol Hill. But today we should acknowledge that US Senators have made a very positive step in the right direction
The Government has engaged in intensive lobbying on behalf of the undocumented for several years. The Taoiseach and I have availed of every possible opportunity, including our St Patrick's Day discussions, to convey our concerns in this matter to President Bush and to key Congressional figures. 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. Our efforts are, of course, complemented by the very effective work of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, and by the strong all-party support in the Oireachtas.”
6th April 2006