Cowen raises immigration issues in Washington
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., met with a number of prominent US politicians in Washington yesterday to update them on the Northern Ireland Peace Process and to discuss the situation and status of Irish immigrants in the United States.
Minister Cowen met with Senator Chuck Hagel who, together with Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic Leader in the Senate, has recently initiated a Bill in Congress on the position of undocumented illegals in the US. This followed the announcement by President Bush’s initiative “Fair and secure immigration reform”.
Speaking today, at the end of his visit to Washington, Minister Cowen said:
“I welcome the Daschle-Hagel initiative. I see it as a constructive effort to deal with the situation of the undocumented in the United States in a pragmatic and compassionate way.
I have already welcomed President Bush’s initiative, in January, when it was announced.
The Government is working to develop the economy and create jobs so that Irish people need not emigrate out of economic necessity. However, we recognise that there will always be a level of emigration and that there will also be some people who require special help in relation to their status here in the United States.
Each of these initiatives will, of course, have to follow the legislative paths within Congress, and I and my officials continue to follow their progress closely. However, I am delighted to have this early opportunity to flag our concerns about the position of Irish immigrants in the US”.
Minister Cowen met with a range of other Congressional leaders, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Denis Hastert, and House Minority Leader, Ms Nancy Pelosi. He also held discussions with a number of senior politicians, from both parties, who have taken a direct interest in the peace process in Northern Ireland over many years - these included Senators Kennedy and Dodd and Representative Jim Walsh.
On Northern Ireland, Minister Cowen said:
“In the context of the current difficulties, in my meetings I stressed again that there is no half-way house between violence and democracy. At the same time, disengagement will not advance progress on the paramilitarism issue. We must continue with collective dialogue and redouble our efforts to resolve the related core issues of paramilitarism and institutional stability”. Top