Friday 20 October 2017 05:59:55 AM

South Down Families Watching US Immigration Says Rogers
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AS the Immigration debate in the United States reaches yet another critical stage, many parents in South Down will share the anxious days that their undocumented family members in the USA are about to endure.

Explaining the current situation in America for the many working there without a proper visa,  SDLP Assembly Member Seán Rogers said: “It is expected that the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill will be presented to Congress within the coming weeks. The Bill has been prepared by an eight strong committee comprising four members from the Democratic Party and four members from the Republican Party known in political circles as the ‘Gang of 8’.

New York... a popular destination for young workers from County Down.

New York… a popular destination for young workers from County Down.

“Whilst there is yet another degree of optimism regarding the success of the Bill, our migrant workers there are conscious that those on Capitol Hill opposed to immigration reform are a very powerful body and they will, as they did before, do all in their power to fend off the Bill”.

Mr Rogers added: “All of us interested in what is happening in Washington will take a little encouragement from the fact that the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Patrick J. Leahy is pushing the Gang of 8 to make urgent progress on the issue. The Vermont Democratic Senator has stressed the need for the debates to get started without delay and he did express the view that if action is not taken quickly and decisively, America will lose the opportunity it now has to fix its flawed immigration system.

“People might not be fully aware of the huge number of local families in County Down that are closely following the US Immigration saga. There is not a parish in South Down, and I’m sure that goes for other areas throughout Ireland, that has not suffered great numerical losses in recent years due to immigration.

SouthDown MLA Seán Rogers looking closely at developments across the Pond for County Down workers.

South Down MLA Seán Rogers looking closely at developments across the Pond for County Down workers.

“The anti-immigration measures currently in situ has reduced the numbers going to America which is the most popular destination of all. On behalf of the ‘Undocumented Irish’ in the USA and their families back home in Ireland, I sincerely hope that an acceptable resolution is reached this time round.”

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At the end of 2012, there was an E3 scheme for Irish people to work in the US and there is still an expectation that this will materialise. This would mean that  another 10,500 people per year could be elligible to work legally in the USA, with the requirement that they had organised a job before going there.If someone was given a visa under this scheme it could man their dependents could also travel with them.
President Obama did make a pledge at the last election to try and reform immigration laws during his office, but he and the Democratic Party are running against a strong tide of Republicans opposing this. In this proposal it is expected that the ‘undocumented Irish’ generally will get a more favourable deal being treated equally with other immigrants to the USA. But it is not clear cut and still hangs in the balance.