Now that St. Patrick’s Day has passed, the chances for Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s legislation to issue to 10,500 E-3 visas to Irish nationals may be over too. Brown had identified St. Patrick’s Day as the date by which he had hoped to maneuver S. 2005, the Irish Recognition and Encouragement Act or IRE, through the Senate. Instead, as of March 27, nearly two weeks after the parades have ended and the shamrocks wilted, S. 2005 has only 3 cosponsors.
The bill’s failure has mystified the media. In the days leading up to St. Paddy’s, journalists wrote glowingly about S. 2005 and pointed out that, if passed, it would reverse years of discrimination against the Irish inadvertently created when Brown’s predecessor, Teddy Kennedy, championed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
Said Brown’s spokesman John Donnelly:
"For decades, the Irish have been unfairly shut out by our immigration laws while immigration from many other countries has sharply increased." [Immigration Bill Draws Ire from Advocates, by Erin Kelly, USA Today, March 22, 2012]
Brown's bill duplicates a 2005 program that allowed 10,500 Australians to come to the United States on E-3 visas. The E-3’s fine print may also include immigration status relief through waivers for some illegal alien Irish currently living and (possibly) working in the United States. In other words, for those Irish already in America, they would likely receive an amnesty.
Reporters incorrectly assumed that since the Irish are white and speak English, then Brown’s bill should be acceptable to Congress and Americans who oppose more liberal immigration laws—two groups that are also mostly white and English speaking.
The media’s superficial analysis confirms its complete failure to understand the patriotic immigration reform’s message. More immigration, regardless of the country of origin, creates more population growth and brings with it the attendant social problems related to larger numbers of people.
And reporters totally missed the IRE’s biggest drawback. Although Brown has advertized his legislation as one that will bring exceptionally talented workers to the United States, the fact is that Irish nationals can qualify by having a high school diploma (or the equivalent). In the event he has neither, then two years of work experience can substitute. Of the nearly 20 million unemployed or underemployed Americans, tens of thousands are high school educated. To import 10,500 unskilled workers from Ireland or anywhere else is indefensible and inexcusable.
While Brown’s bill appears to have stalled, our side can never afford to take anything for granted. Brown is likely to continue to push for S. 2005 during his re-election campaign between now and November. See CAPS legislative alert here and contact your Senators.