Kerry O'Shea @IrishCentral
June 11, 2019
President Trump and Taoiseach Varadkar addressed a number of issues during a joint press conference at Shannon Airport on June 5.
President Trump appeared optimistic that the E3 visa program will be expanded to Irish people during his visit to Ireland last week.
Speaking at Shannon Airport alongside Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister] Leo Varadkar on June 5, President Trump addressed the ongoing question about the E3 visas.
One reporter asked President Trump, “will you give Irish citizens access to the E3 visa?”
President Trump said: “Yeah, we’re looking at that. We almost made it last time. It was one vote; you know that. And we’re looking at that, and I’m sure that’s something we’re going to discuss. And I spoke to the one vote, who’s a great senator, by the way. And — he really is; he’s a great senator. And we think we’re going to be successful. He’s a terrific person. He doesn’t mean to do any harm — that, I can tell you. He was telling me he loves Ireland, actually. So I think we’re going to be in good shape.”
“We had just about a unanimous vote. And — and if we get a unanimous vote, we do something that they’ve been trying to do for a long time. So I want to do that for the people of Ireland, but I want to do it for the people that are in the United States that want this vote to happen, that happen to be of Irish descent.”
The ongoing E3 questionAs it stands, the E3 visa program is only open to Australian nationals. The program, first introduced in 2005 as part of a US-Australia trade agreement, grants some 10,500 2-year working visas to Australians.
However, Australians typically claim only about half of their allotment, leaving several thousand working visas unused each year. Ireland wants access to these unused E3 visas for its citizens.
Late last year, proposed changes to the current E3 visa program were defeated when the new bill failed to gain unanimous support in the Senate.
Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas is understood to be the lone final opponent to the 2018 E3 bill, but President Trump declined to name him during his remarks at Shannon Airport on June 5.
The pathway to more Irish working visasFor St. Patrick’s Day this year, Taoiseach Varadkar traveled to Washington, DC where he met with both the US President and Vice President. The E3 visa was understood to be discussed during their meetings.
John Deasy, special envoy to the US government from Ireland, told The Irish Times: "It was clear from our meetings around St Patrick's Day that both the Republican and Democratic leadership offices want to continue to pursue the E3 Bill.”
"Both Speaker Pelosi and President Trump told us they are behind efforts to get this finished and Congressman Neal is one of its driving forces in the House."
Shortly after the Irish politicians traveled to the US, several American politicians, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Richard Neal, traveled to Ireland.
In April, Congressman Neal, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee and is a member of the Friends of Ireland Caucus, reintroduced an E3 bill to Congress in hopes of opening the E3 visas to Irish people.
The bill will need to pass through the House and then get unanimous support from the Senate before being passed on to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. There is one other scenario where the bill would be attached to a appropriations bill therefore not needing a unanimous vote.
Read More: Speaker Pelosi launches new effort to pass Irish work visas bill
@IrishCentral | April 18, 2019
Another attempt to pass the E3 visa bill, which would allow up to 5,000 work visas a year for Irish applicants to work in America, is to be made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in Dublin.
Pelosi has been leading a US congressional delegation to Ireland and Britain.
Congressman Richard Neal of Massachusetts, who introduced the bill last year which passed the House unanimously and failed by one vote to be unanimously passed in the Senate, also told the Irish Times he is refiling it. The bill does not create a new visa, rather it utilizes unused E3 visas every year.
Congressman Richard Neal and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi greeted by Ireland's leader Leo Varadkar at Dublin's Government buildings.
Speaker Pelosi stated it may be attached to a spending bill, which would mean it would no longer need unanimous consent. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has blocked the bill, which President Donald Trump has stated he will sign.
“My bill is going to be refiled. It has already passed the House of Representatives unanimously. It makes good sense,” Neal, who was part of the delegation, told The Irish Times.
Neal said he was confident that it would pass the Senate this time around.
“My understanding is that not only does the House favor it, Trump favors it and the Senate overwhelmingly favors it; there are but one or two recalcitrant in the Senate who object,” he said.
The E3 visa was first introduced in 2005 as part of an Australian-US trade agreement. It is a two-year renewable indefinitely visa that allows Australians and their spouses to live and work in the US. To qualify, Australians must have a third-level qualification or 12 years of managerial experience, and a job offer from a registered employer.
Australia receives 10,500 E3 visas annually, but typically only fills half of them. Ireland wants to see those unused visas opened up for Irish applicants.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar walking the corridors of Dublin Castle.
In her meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Tuesday Pelosi promised to speak to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell as part of a new push.
On St. Patrick’s Day Trump said the White House had asked for the Bill to be reintroduced.
“The E3 has been brought too far to quit on it. We have agreement from every leadership office in the House and Senate and both sides [Republican and Democrat] that it needs to be pursued again,” he said.
Nov 29, 2018
By Suzanne Lynch in Washington
Legislation that would extend E3 visas to Irish citizens was forwarded to the Senate on Thursday under an expedited process, although a vote is not expected until next week at the earliest, according to congressional sources.
In a significant breakthrough the House of Representatives voted to extend the E3 visa scheme to Irish citizens during a debate in Congress on Wednesday evening.
Though the Bill must still get Senate approval, its passage through the lower chamber marks a major breakthrough in Ireland’s efforts to secure new visa access for Irish citizens who want to live and work in the United States.
The Bill was “hotlined” to the Senate on Thursday, which means that it could bypass some Senate procedures and proceed relatively quickly if there is broad consent. Though a vote was technically possible on Thursday night, it was seen as more likely to take place next week or later in the congressional session.
With the current Congress due to finish up in mid-December, a deal must be agreed in the coming weeks. It would then be passed to US president Donald Trump for signing.
Up to 5,000 visas per year could become available under the E3 visa scheme, which is currently open to Australian citizens only.
While the passage of the Bill needed a two-thirds majority in the House, it needs unanimous approval in the Senate. Figures from across the political divide welcomed the House vote.
John Deasy, the Waterford TD who was appointed special envoy to the US Congress last year by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, said the vote was an important move, but he stressed that Senate approval was still needed.
Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on foreign affairs, Niall Collins, welcomed the development as “real progress... Well done to all involved to date in this initiative, in particular John Deasy. Hopefully the Senate will now pass this without undue delay,” he said.
Billy Lawless, the Senator with responsibility for the diaspora, said he “wholeheartedly” welcomed the development. “It will reinvigorate Irish-American communities in the USA and will serve to bring our countries, our companies and our people even closer together,” he said.
“In light of Brexit this would be a win-win for both of our great nations, given that Ireland will be the primary English-speaking country remaining in the EU,” he added.
Easier and cheaper
A total of 10,500 E3 visas are made available to Australian nationals each year under a 2005 deal, but only half of these are taken up each year.
Among the key provisions of the E3 visa is that applicants must have a job in the United States to quality. But the E3 is significantly easier and less costly to obtain than the traditional H1B visa. Unlike other visas, the two-year E3 visa can be renewed indefinitely and includes spouses.
As part of the negotiations, Ireland has offered to make it easier for US citizens to retire in Ireland. This includes lowering the income threshold needed and allowing retirees to work for up to 20 hours a week.
US Envoy John Deasy sat in on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s St Patrick’s week meeting with Donald Trump at the White House, when a potential solution to the Undocumented Irish issue was discussed.
The Waterford TD, who worked as a parliamentary aide to Republican Congressmen on Capitol Hill in the nineties, has been engaging with American and Irish diplomats to lay the groundwork for a possible immigration deal since his appointment last summer.
“We reached agreement to pursue a bilateral deal and that’s real progress,” Deputy Deasy said after sitting in on the behind-closed-doors meeting in the Oval Office.
During his visit to Washington, the Taoiseach said: “On migration, John Deasy has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and has had many meetings with US congress and with the US administration” on different options and different solutions.
“There isn’t a solution on the table as yet but there is a real willingness from the US administration to perhaps come to some sort of reciprocal agreement with Ireland recognising that the Irish who are undocumented in America are a particular group, they are relatively small numbered, maybe ten or fifteen thousand people and they did almost all come here legally in the first place and are hardworking, tax-paying people who are very loyal to America.”
“I know from what members of the administration have said that they would like to find a solution that would allow thousands of Irish people to be regularised but obviously then that has impacts on people from other countries too,” the Taoiseach conceded. There is also a legislative logjam in the US Congress.
Early in his role, John Deasy established from the Pew Research Center that the actual figure for the Undocumented Irish was much lower than the 50,000 usually quoted. This could well prove vital in facilitating a formula which would offer US citizens an easier avenue to work and retire in Ireland.
The provision of new visas and employment pathways could be offered in return for a similar arrangement for the undocumented Irish in America, many of whom overstayed a visitors’ visa many years ago and currently work and have families in the country, unable to return home.
The Taoiseach later told a lunch in Washington, hosted by House Speaker Paul Ryan — at which the Irish Ambassador to the US, Waterford man Dan Mulhall, was at the ‘top table’ — that he recognised the “complexity and sensitivity” of the political debate around immigration in the US but asked for“a sympathetic look at this issue.
“There was support and a good degree of enthusiasm from the administration to work on a solution for the undocumented Irish that are here but,” he said later.
At the Speaker’s lunch John Deasy was seated with the new scion of the Kennedy dynasty, Democrat Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, who is tipped as a future presidential candidate.
The recently-appointed Irish government envoy to the U.S. Congress, John Deasy TD, met with Irish immigrant representatives at the Irish Consulate in Manhattan. The meeting included representatives of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Emerald Isle Immigration Center, Aisling Irish Center, New York Irish Center, Irish immigration centers in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and members of the undocumented Irish community. John is pictured with Siobhan Dennehy of Emerald Isle and Dan Dennehy from the AOH. [Irish Echo]
Ireland is going to need Republican friends on Capitol Hill to look after the interests of our nationals in America, according to government envoy John Deasy, below
Sunday, 9 July 2017
Ireland must learn to do business with the Republican Party if it wants to help the estimated 50,000 “undocumented” Irish in America, according to John Deasy, the government envoy to the US Congress.
For too long, Irish politicians have had “a real bias” towards the Democratic Party, said Deasy, who felt this needed to be rebalanced as a pragmatic approach to achieving “something” on immigration.
“We can’t continue to rely on the kind of influence we used to have 30 and 40 years ago. American politics has changed and the relationship with Ireland has changed,” said the Waterford TD.
“It is clear we are not going to be treated as the special case any longer. Irish Americans are well aware of that but successive governments have been slow to realise how much influence and access we have lost … It is just something you need to renew. That is recognised by the taoiseach and that is why he appointed me.”
Deasy declined to discuss reports he was disappointed not to join Leo Varadkar’s junior ministerial ranks last month. He said he had argued the case for a government envoy to US Congress and the taoiseach accepted the need.
He has begun talking to former contacts on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, where he worked for two Republicans in the Nineties — Senator John Heinz and Congressman Ronald Machtley — and will meet Irish lobby groups in several US cities this month.
“This doesn’t centre on the Trump administration, it centres around the House of Representatives and the majority view there as it applies to immigration visas and what they see as illegals in the US,” said Deasy.
“The rhetoric in some political circles — a lot of it stemming from the election campaign — has become extremely harsh. But there are plenty of Republicans who feel uncomfortable with that kind of rhetoric.”
He said he would not focus on extending America’s E3 visa for Australians to Irish citizens as that would exclude many undocumented Irish due to a requirement for a college degree or 12 years’ relevant work experience, which many could not prove.
“There is no guarantee Republicans … will ever agree to its passage,” he said. “We cannot afford to spend months and years chasing something that may be unattainable.”
“There is very strong opposition to comprehensive immigration reform in the House [of Representatives]. So if you are to gain any progression for undocumented Irish, you need to take a different approach and address their concerns about criminality.”
Deasy said of the 240,000 illegals deported from the US last year, just 26 were Irish. Criminality was not an issue among the undocumented Irish, and that point had to be driven home in Congress.
Deasy will work with Dan Mulhall, the incoming Irish ambassador to America, and US Irish consulates. He will also discuss taxation with Congress.
Fears of a crackdown on undocumented Irish grew last month after John Cunningham, an Irish community leader in Boston, was arrested by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service. Cunningham was deported from the US on Wednesday night, ICE confirmed last week.
Deasy said it was thought there was no crackdown on Irish “illegals” as such, but that ICE had stepped up its general activity.
Cunningham, 38, an electrician from Donegal, had lived in America for 16 years after overstaying a 90-day holiday visa.
IrishCentral.com said the former chair of Boston Northeast GAA club also had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear in court in 2014. He had been charged with accepting $1,300 (€1,140) for repairs but not doing the work.
July 05, 2017
New Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is treating the plight of the Irish undocumented in the U.S. with such importance that he’s appointed a special envoy tasked with implementing new ways to deal with the issue.
Waterford TD John Deasy, 49, a U.S. college graduate with several years of experience working on Capitol Hill after completing his degree, will lead a renewed effort by the Irish government to seek relief for the undocumented as the first ever envoy. Deasy has been a member of the Dail representing his native Waterford since 2002.
During an interview with the Irish Voice on Monday, Deasy, who will make his first trip to Washington, D.C. as envoy in the next couple of weeks, says a “new approach” is needed with regards to the undocumented as strategies used in the past haven’t worked.
He stressed that his first trip to Washington will involve “a lot of listening and outreach” with those who are working on immigration reform, particularly members of the Embassy of Ireland and the various Irish consular offices throughout the U.S.
“We are in a different place now,” Deasy said about the current state of U.S. immigration priorities. “We have gone to talking about immigration reform to immigration enforcement, and the deporting of individuals on a far larger scale than we’ve ever seen. I know that’s a terrifying turn of events. This is a different environment than what we’ve ever dealt with before.”
Deasy says his first priority is the undocumented. “We have to start there,” he said.
Past lobbying efforts to secure an Irish version of the Australian E-3 work visa, which gives natives of Australia with advanced skills work visas for an unlimited number of years, have been too limiting, Deasy says, pointing out that the E-3 visa would not be of use to the undocumented and would limit many Irish citizens from working in the U.S. because of its higher educational requirements.
“To be honest, when the E-3 visa was first floated I wasn’t that comfortable with the idea on a personal level because I thought it excluded too many people. I thought it was a political way out of a problem that affected a lot of people, far more than those who would fit into the E-3 visa category,” Deasy said.
“I thought that it was an attempt to replicate what fit for the Australians, but which really wasn’t a good fit for us. So I’m not going to immediately gravitate over to the E-3 visa without looking at the entire landscape to see what might be possible.”
Deasy offered that he has “a couple of ideas” in mind, but wants to get input from those on the ground here before offering a specific plan of action.
He spent years as a legislative staffer on Capitol Hill after his graduation from Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania in 1990 and worked on immigration issues. At the time he sensed a negative shift in Ireland’s political influence. He sees the same problem today, he says.
“When I left the Hill 20 years ago I had concern which I registered at the time that we were losing influence. I felt that we were trading on past relationships and the power of Irish America that wasn’t there anymore. I think a different approach is needed, and I’ve felt that way for some time.”
During his time in Washington, Deasy worked for two Republicans, then Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania, and Congressman Ronald K. Machtley. He has maintained his network of U.S. political contacts, and says that many Republicans are deeply unhappy with how the issue of immigration is being handled under the Trump administration.
“I very strongly believe that, and it is something I will be paying great attention to and working on,” Deasy said.
The estimated 50,000 Irish undocumented have had their hopes raised before, only to be disappointed at the lack of progress. Deasy says he’s aware of this and doesn’t want to raise expectations.
“I would be wary of raising anyone’s hopes. I know that’s what’s happened in the past,” he said.
“But what I do believe and what I want to offer is a new way of thinking. As a country we’ve relied too much on the traditional relationships to solve problems. I think it’s clear now that everyone has to wise up to the fact that with this administration, we are just one of many. We are no longer being singled out as a special case.
“At this point, it’s about providing direction and coming up with a new strategy to deal with this problem.”
Varadkar, Deasy added, is totally supportive of a fresh look at how to assist the undocumented.
“We had discussions about the undocumented and it’s been in the pipeline for some time,” Deasy said about his new envoy role. “When I broached the issue with the taoiseach and put it to him that particularly now it needed some extra attention, he agreed immediately.”
Deasy plans on traveling to the major Irish U.S. cities in the near future to meet with the undocumented and the immigration groups offering support.
The envoy position is not one that will bring extra pay to Deasy, but his travel expenses will be covered. “I am delighted that he has agreed to take on this role and I am sure that he will make an important contribution to our national efforts on this issue,” Varadkar said in a statement last week.
T.D. and Irish Government envoy to the U.S. Congress