This is an issue to which I accord very high priority and I have maintained contact, both directly and through our Embassy in Washington, with many key players in Congress who are influential in steering the process of US immigration reform.
The Taoiseach discussed immigration reform and the plight of our undocumented in many of the meetings and public engagements during the recent St Patrick’s Day visit to Washington DC. In addition to substantive discussion of the issues with President Obama and Vice President Biden, the Taoiseach also discussed the prospects for progress with a range of other members of Congress including Speaker John Boehner; Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee which has responsibility for immigration legislation in the House; Congressman Paul Ryan; the Congressional Friends of Ireland; and Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversaw the passage of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill last June. Without in any way under-estimating the political complexities that persist around the immigration reform discussion in the United States, we were encouraged to hear views from both Democrats and Republicans that there is now a growing consensus in favour of reform. The Government has instructed Ambassador Anderson and her team, working with the Irish American lobby groups who have already put in such a great effort, to continue their efforts to persuade members of Congress to seize every opportunity to make immigration reform a reality. The Embassy has actively pursued this since the St Patrick’s Day period and this will continue in the period ahead.