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A letter mailed to Congressman Tom Price by my fiancé, Kieran Claffey, an Irish Immigrant and U.S. Citizen - a different perspective on immigration reform

85-C Mill Street, Suite 300
Roswell, GA 30075

Dear Congressman Price:

I am writing on behalf of the 50,000 undocumented Irish in the USA, (a figure produced by recent Irish government estimates).  Please remember that figure – it appears again in this letter.  The Irish did not come here with their hand held out, as Paul Ryan recently highlighted in his campaign for immigration reform, in which he displayed a poster from the Irish 1850’s immigrant ships, depicting the truth that a man could be the sum of his efforts in America, a land that rewarded hard work, indifferent to nobility or class system.  The 50,000 undocumented Irish work hard and earn their way, as we have always done and contribute to the richness of America.  I am one of 40 million Irish American voters that are asking for your help.

Not many people know this, but there were 50,000 Irish men who died in the US civil war; 35,000 with the north and 15,000 with the confederate army and many more who bled the ground for this country, going back to the American war of independence.  In the famous NY city skyscraper photograph of the steelworkers from the 1930’s, the majority of the men sitting on that steel beam were Irish immigrants.  We have earned our voice, producing great Irish American leaders such as the Scots Irish Hibernian, Andrew Jackson, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, to name a few. 

In recent history the Irish nation has been treated poorly by the immigration system, considering our contribution to the establishment, growth and moral fortitude of America.   Since 1965 Ireland has been shut out, with only 1/1000th of 1% of green card admissions.  Have we not earned our voice in America; earned it the hard way?  Yet we continue to be given the bare minimum.  We have 50,000 of our people struggling in America, struggling in the shadows of American life.  There is an opportunity for Ireland to receive e-visas in the upcoming legislation, the immigration reform bill (Bill No. S. 744) and there are proposals to eliminate the e-visas from the legislation; visas which would be of great benefit to Ireland.  

Ireland is suffering a dilapidating economic downturn.  Recent engineering and science graduates are unable to find employment in Ireland and are emigrating to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK; countries who want them and who are welcoming their eclectic skill set.  Why should Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK benefit from highly educated Irish college graduates and not us; not us in America with our strong ancestral bond to Ireland?  

We badly need them here!  I know; I work in the oil and gas industry in Georgia and we are starved for technical people.  We need science and engineering graduates in the US to develop our economy and to compete with the rising Asian countries who are surpassing us in engineering and science.   We (as Americans) are looking a gift horse in the mouth!  Why?

Immigration reform is not just a Latino issue; it is also an Irish issue and it is also a reflection of how we want to be as a nation.  Do we want to reward hard work and labor or do we want to simply ignore these immigrants who are toiling so very hard for this country?  Irish people cannot go home to bury their parents; missing funerals for fear of being deported, a point I believe the Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently made to speaker of the house John Boehner.   Please work to provide e-visas for the benefit of both the USA and Ireland and throw your shoulder into supporting some form of immigration reform for the betterment of America, regardless of bi-partisan politics.  Do the right thing!  I know people who know what it is truly like to live in the shadows in America; we are not looking for amnesty; just a drop of milk of human kindness and an acknowledgment of the dignity of the human spirit. 

Our ancestors, many of them Scots Irish, were immigrants at one point, but the system did not force them into the shadows. This is happening in 2013!  Whose plight is worse?  What would your ancestors do when given your choice, the choice that lays ahead of you?  Please remove this burden and pass some form of immigration reform, which secures our borders and recognizes the contribution given by the people who pick our fruit, build our houses and mind our children! 

Is mise le meas – With respect,
Mr. Kieran J. Claffey
Mechanical Engineer – Oil & Gas Industry,
Atlanta - Clan na nGael Cumann Luthchleas Gael (Atlanta - Gaelic Athletic Association)
US Citizen
Irish Immigrant to the State of Georgia


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