Ireland Asks Bush for Alien Amnesty
The Irish Government took advantage of the popular St. Patrick's Day celebration to press for amnesty for Irish Illegal Immigrants. Hardly a case for people who can't find work back home, Ireland is experiencing an economic boom.
O'Neill, a Redwood Shores resident who has run his bar for eight years and plans to open a second location March 29 in San Francisco, came to the Bay Area from Dublin in 1992 on a work visa. He got his green card in 1995 and became a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland in 2001.
He said Irish illegals typically come to the states on student visas, wind up getting cash-paying jobs and stay after their visas expire. They work in construction or at restaurants and pubs, he said, even as a wave of immigrants move to Ireland to work in the high-tech, pharmaceutical and tourism industries in that country's booming economy.
Bernie Ahern, Ireland's prime minister, just want's us to make exception to our laws because some Irish collage students find it too much trouble to apply in the proper manner when their visas run out. He contends that we should follow the lead of his country and have an "open immigration" policy. That might be a nice idea except Ireland does not have an open policy. In fact they are more restrictive on granting citizen status to those born of non Irish parents. They are looking to tighten the skills requirement also. No mention of any tolerance for illegal immigration.
More recently, the government proposed a national "citizenship referendum" to eliminate an Irish-born child's automatic right to citizenship when the parents are not Irish nationals. The public overwhelmingly passed this referendum in June 2004. Both measures led to heated debates in Ireland and were noted abroad.
Second, with regard to labor immigration, Ireland has maintained policies that are among the most liberal in Europe. In the absence of quotas, the number of work permits issued to non-Irish migrant workers exploded from less than 6,000 in 1999 to about 50,000 in 2003. Moreover, the great majority of migrant workers have been legally employed in relatively low-skilled occupations. This is in contrast to many other European countries' labor immigration programs, which are regulated by quotas and often exclude low-skilled occupations.
Third, as another reflection of its relative openness to economic immigration, Ireland granted citizens of the 10 new EU member states free access to the Irish labor market immediately upon EU enlargement on May 1, 2004. Only the UK and Sweden shared this policy; all other countries of the pre-enlarged EU (EU-15) decided to continue employment restrictions for accession state nationals.
After five years of significant immigration and fairly ad hoc immigration policymaking, the Irish government seems to be in the process of formulating a more comprehensive and managed approach. While it remains to be seen how policies will develop in the next few years, the government appears to favor a "skills-based" policy that increases the restrictions on the employment of workers from outside the enlarged EU, especially in low-skilled occupations.
It doesn't matter if the illegal immigrant is Irish, Mexican or Arab, Christian or Moslem, hard working or lazy. What matters is our laws are respected by those who wish to live and work here.