Here's a lovely crystal bowl of shamrock, Mr. President. Can I have a free pass for the undocumented Irish in return?
Bertie Ahern brought up the problems of the illegal Irish immigrants when he called at the White House over the weekend. Like anyone else living on shaky ground, the Irish who live in the shadows would like to be free, to come and go as they please, without worrying about getting back in once they've gone out.
Mr. Ahern's suggestion that the Irish be given an amnesty was turned down. The best he sees ahead is a new visa program that would give the illegals a chance to normalize their situation, but only after they've gone back to Ireland and filed the proper applications. Rather difficult for a man who has a little plumbing business to up sticks, go back to the parents' humble home, and wait. What would become of his client base if he wasn't there to fix the pipes? How would he make money to support his family if he's in Ireland and his work is in the States?
Fine Gael is all over An Taoiseach for not coming out of Washington with a better deal. Michael Ring was highly critical, claiming that Mr. Ahern wasn't even trying to help the undocumented.
Niall O'Dowd of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform must have been scratching his head with puzzlement after Mr. Ahern's announcement. His group isn't looking for an amnesty deal. They'd like Irish illegals to be treated like Australian and Chilean illegals, whose situations were normalized under a bilateral agreement. Why can't Ireland and the U.S. trade visas as well?
If the Irish Defense Force had a few boots on the ground in Iraq, do you think that the visa issue would be cast in an entirely different light?