Hibernians, lead by National President Seamus Boyle, had the largest contingent at a January White House briefing on Irish immigration and US-Irish relations. Over fifty Irish American Community Leaders were invited to the Old Executive office building located in the White House complex to hear overviews on these topics by representatives of the President’s Domestic Policy Council on comprehensive immigration reform and the National Security Council.
Prior to the White House briefing, many of the attendees were invited to attend a reception and luncheon at the elegant Hay-Adams Hotel by the Irish Lobby for Immigration (IRIL) just across the street from the White House. Ciaran Staunton who heads up the IRIL was a gracious host and pointed out the significance of this historic briefing. Former congressman Bruce Morrison, now an IRIL advisor, provided the attendees with their perspective on the state of Irish immigration. As member of Congress, Morrison co-sponsored the Immigration Act of 1990 or H.R. 4300 and a provision of the bill became known as the Morrison Visa Program and some called it the Irish Lottery because of the positive effect it had on granting Irish entry to the U.S. Touting the IRIL position, Morrison pointed to the fact that presidents don’t pass immigrations bills – Congress does. He also said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that Congress won’t pass an immigration bill in an election year. It has been done before.”
At the meeting, Heather Higgenbotham – Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council mentioned that Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano wants to reach out to legislators and stakeholders to work together pragmatically with the Irish-American and other ethnic communities in hopes of building bi-partisan support. With that in hand, president Obama will bring immigration reform to the forefront. Deputy Policy Director of the National Security Council Jake Sullivan, speaking on Northern Ireland, mentioned that Secretary of State Clinton named Declan Kelly as special envoy because she wanted to keep the North in her own office and that her view has become a deep commitment to seeing the peace process completed.
The various events that that day proved the influence that the AOH maintains on the national stage. Our organization was well represented at these events by the president, national directors, chairs and members.
(Photo courtesy of IRIL)