State and National Immigration Chair Recognizes Contributions

On Sunday, February 11, 2018, Dan Dennehy, Hibernian National Immigration Chair visited the home of the General Philip Sheridan AOH Division in Stamford, CT to join in a celebration of two Hibernians, who have made significant contributions to their community, and recently became naturalized US citizens.

Dennehy said, “This gathering shows we as Hibernians value recent additions to our community, and welcome every naturalized US Citizen.  As we work to end 52 years of inequity toward the Irish in US immigration law, we encourage similar events and recognition for all Hibernians and all Irish organizations nationwide.”

AOH Statement for Immigration meeting at Irish Consulate of New York

With hundreds of Hibernian Divisions, that are de facto Irish Cultural centers,  in most major cities, as well as towns and parishes across the US, the AOH has been in the unique position of offering aid to Irish immigrants and immigration efforts  from informed, connected and established members of the  community since our inception 175 years ago. The past 25 years have witnessed both the Irish Immigration Reform Movement and Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform turning to our leadership and members for the vital connectivity that we have to our legislators on local, state and national levels. For it is the Divisions, County, State and National AOH that these legislators seek to associate with to reach Irish American support. Indeed, legislators and their aides are at times members of the AOH/LAOH.

The AOH is grateful for the efforts of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, through its Embassy and Consulates and the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers for enabling the conferences for the AOH, Coalition, Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, Boston Irish and ILIR that acted as clearinghouses of ideas that lead to the great collaborative and nonpartisan effort towards attaining the Irish E3 Visa Bills.

We also thank Bruce Morrison and ILIR for arranging vital meetings with the White House and were happy to reciprocate by introducing our states’ legislators to Morrison and the Irish Lobby. This bill will remedy many of the future flow immigration issues between Ireland and the US, but our work on the undocumented remains ahead of us. The AOH is working everyday with the Centers and DFA on Irish immigrants facing incarceration, detention, extradition and deportation, as well as our own work with Thar Saile in their long struggle. The AOH efficiently fields inquiries on status adjustment, dual citizenship, retiring to Ireland , pension, legal  and  a variety of matters and connect people with the help they need.

With a network of AOH members across the US, we will continue to work with our legislators, DFA, the Centers, ILIR, the Celts and Boston Irish and others to continue this good work. AOH members are becoming more familiar every day with the Centers and will help them when the really hard work begins for them,  the job of helping the next wave of legal Irish immigrants live, work and become vital members of the rich cultural exchange that has always existed between our two great nations.

Seamus Boyle                                                                                                                                     Dan Dennehy

President, National Board                                                                                                              National Immigration Chairman

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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AOH Briefed by White House

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)

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