Senator fights to get US work visas for Irish

A US SENATOR will introduce an immigration bill in Washington DC today which would allow up to 10,000 Irish a year to live in America on work visas — but not green cards.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a democrat from New York, met with 20 Irish community leaders at his Manhattan office on Friday where he promised those in attendance that he would seek support for the initiative from fellow politicians in DC.

According to Irish Central, Schumer claimed that fellow Democratic senators Pat Leahy and Richard Durbin will co-sponsor the legislation while he is also bidding to attract several Republican senators to the proposal.

Schumer’s move is inspired by the so-called E3 visas, which were given to Australia for their support in the Gulf War. Under the terms of the visa, up to 10,000 Australians a year can come to America once they have a job offer and can renew their non-immigrant visas indefinitely.

Prominent members of the Irish-American community had expressed their dismay that a bill, which passed the House two weeks ago and is now in the senate, allowed more green cards for Chinese, Indian, Filipino and Mexican immigrants but took away green cards from Ireland.

Schumer’s bill would introduce the same House bill that passed two weeks ago in the senate with the E3 visas added.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa has pledged to oppose the original bill but there is mounting pressure on the Iowa Republican to let it pass.

Schumer also claimed if the bill did not pass, he would work on a different bill for next year’s legislative session in order to offer alternative assistance to the Irish community.

“We know we have a great friend in Senator Schumer,” Bart Murphy, head of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said “We look forward to the introduction of the new bill. We will work with Irish organisations across the US too bring pressure to bear on legislators to pass it.”

Key Republican senators such as Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Marco Rubio in Florida will be especially targeted by Irish lobby members.

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