Statement on the Irish E3 Bill

Since our inception the AOH has been active in working to improve the lives of Irish immigrants. Now celebrating our 175th year, we continue to live up to the preamble of the AOH Constitution which requires that we encourage an equitable U.S. Immigration law for Ireland, and to cooperate with all groups for a fair American Immigration Policy.

In the 1960‘s, AOH members participated in an effort to prevent removal of the quota of Irish visas by the Immigration Act of 1965. Those concerns were proven as successive economic downturns have left many of the Irish without the option to emigrate legally to the US. In the last 25 years, AOH has worked with the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform, as well as many other organizations and  government officials from the two nations, and elsewhere, to rectify the quota and restore the important cultural exchange between Ireland and the US.

Current events and developments prove our understanding of the need to work with others to meet this goal. One of the great developments of the recent weeks was a video conference  and one week later a teleconference facilitated by the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers and the Irish Embassy. In cities across the US, Irish immigration advocates, in many cases seeing and speaking live to each other for the first time, shared ideas on the recent moves by Congress. AOH, ILIR and Rep. Bruce Morrison, Boston Irish and Chicago Celts and several other advocacy groups outlined recent work towards an Irish E3 and concerns for the undocumented. We look forward to working with all of the groups towards a successful outcome.

The second and more immediate development is the introduction of two bills that propose an Irish E3. The first bill was proposed by Senators Schumer, Leahy and Durbin and it was quickly followed by the Irish Immigration and Encouragement Act sponsored by Republican Senators Brown (MA) and Kirk (IL). While neither bill solves the undocumented issue, they do address future flow from Ireland. The bills would modify the E3 visa, currently available to only Australia and a few select countries. The modifications would recognize Irelands excellent education system and allows Irish Nationals with a “leaving cert” or two years experience in a trade to apply for 10,500 two year renewable visas. We are grateful to the sponsors of both of these bills for their recognition of the longstanding inequities relating to immigration from Ireland.

Right now, AOH members across the US are meeting and reaching out to their US Representatives and Senators as part of the initiative to secure “The Irish E3 Visa.” The AOH maintains that Ireland has been extremely supportive to US Homeland Security and Defense with the Shannon Stopover of US Troops coming and going from the War On Terror and the innovations of US Customs and Immigration at Ireland’s Shannon and Dublin Airports. We are asking Congress to thank Ireland with an E3 as it had Australia in 2005. In this way, with 10,500 annual renewable visas, a secure and legal path to immigration will be restored, preventing the need for Irish people to seek less desirable methods to escape the current economic hardships in Ireland and strengthen the bond between our two nations.

Seamus Boyle AOH National President & Dan Dennehy AOH Immigration Chairman

Siobhan Dennehy to be Awarded John F. Kennedy Medal

The AOH and LAOH will award Siobhan Dennehy the prestigious John F. Kennedy Memorial Medal at the upcoming convention in Cincinnati being held in July.  Dennehy is a nationally-recognized leader on all issues related to Irish immigration. A native of Dalkey, County Dublin, she first visited New York in the late 1980s on a J1 student visa. She joined the Irish grassroots effort called the Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) and volunteered for the Woodlawn Chapter. They were successful in their contribution to the establishment of the Donnelly-Morrison Visas and the DV Lottery.

“Members of both the AOH and LAOH National Boards, as well as State Presidents of both organizations, selected her based on nominations received from throughout the U.S.”, said Brendan Moore, JFK Chairman/AOH National Vice President. “It’s a joint AOH-LAOH award given to a Roman Catholic of Irish birth or descent, outstanding in their field of endeavor.” Margaret Hennessy, JFK Vice Chair/LAOH National Vice President, said the Medal is the highest honor the AOH and LAOH bestow and only thirty have been awarded since its inception in 1966. “Past recipients have been Colonel James McDivitt, U.S.A.F. Astronaut of Gemini IV and Apollo IX, Actor Pat O’Brien, Mayors Richard J. Daley of Chicago and  Raymond L. Flynn of Boston, His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, Nobel Prize winner John Hume among many other prominent Irish and other Irish-American dignitaries”, she said.

Dennehy currently serves as Executive Director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center (EIIC), a non-profit, community-based organization serving thousands of New York City Irish immigrants, as well as immigrants of all nationalities. She has provided invaluable assistance to the AOH towards their constitutional mandate “to encourage an equitable U.S. immigration law for Ireland, and cooperate with groups for a fair American immigration policy.” She has provided the AOH National Immigration Committee with assistance daily by sharing her contacts, initiatives and knowledge of the immigration rules and regulations. At a time when Irish immigration demands AOH attention, honoring Siobhan serves to magnify the AOH/LAOH commitment to the goals of the Order.

Dennehy resides in Cortlandt Manor, New York with her husband Dan and daughters Ashling, age 9 and Cara, age 8. Her husband Dan is the New York State AOH Immigration Chair.

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