New York County Board chairman Laurence McGrath admits there are a lot of people “on edge” in the city’s GAA scene about US president-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policy.
Trump spoke in August last year about his plan to scrap the J1 student visa programme, which has been such a factor in augmenting GAA club teams during their championships in the summer.
Donegal native McGrath admits there is concern about Trump’s plans, although he is optimistic the New Yorker might not be able to wield the axe so freely once in office.
“It would be a worry but you would hope, like a lot of things that are said coming up to elections, that it was saying one thing but doing another. Whatever happens we will have to live with it, and hopefully this is one thing he won’t push on. I would say there are a lot of people that would be working with him that are against it (abolishing the J1).
“It’s a tough time when you hear this coming up in an election that everybody who isn’t legal will be deported. Everybody is kind of on an edge. Trump has been saying ‘what I’ll do’ but when he finds himself in the White House, it might be ‘what I can do’.
“The Irish neighbourhood here are praying it won’t come to pass. There are a lot of kids who are American citizens but their parents aren’t. Once the dust settles, Trump might turn out to be good for the Irish because he works with a lot of them and he has a golf course in Ireland too.”
Ending the J1 programme would also have other repercussions, admits Pettigo man McGrath. “It would do a lot of harm to the clubs because our clubs depend on the J1 visas but it would do a lot of harm to the businesses around the Irish neighbourhoods and students that depend on the funds for the summer to keep them going the following year in college.”
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