Ahern: undocumented Irish "entitled" to remain in US

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern is quoted in today's Examiner as saying that the undocumented Irish are "entitled" to American residency on the grounds that they have "built up the US".

What an immensely stupid thing to say. Although it may play well at home, the use of such a presumptuous word as "entitled" will do nothing but get the backs up of those Americans not naturally inclined to be sympathetic to the reform proposals. That includes the Republican legislators on whom these proposals depend. Besides which, there is absolutely no objective observer who would consider the Irish undocumented to be any more entitled to US residency than the Chinese undocumented, the Mexican undocumented and all the other ethnic groups who have contributed at least as much to the United States.

I support the campaign for US immigration reform (although not the essentially right-wing McCain/Kennedy Bill, but that's another subject) on the utilitarian basis that there is more to be gained all around by allowing these people to stay than by throwing them out. But to argue that one particular group of immigrants is more deserving than others is asinine, racist, and completely unhelpful to the campaign.


The Dubliner said...

"But to argue that one particular group of immigrants is more deserving than others is asinine, racist, and completely unhelpful to the campaign."

He's the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, not the Everybody Foreign Affairs Minister! Why would you expect him to argue any group's case other than the Irish group, never mind every group's case?

Wednesday said...

Er, maybe because he actually wants them to be allowed to stay? Singling out the Irish (or any other group) for special treatment will do absolutely nothing for their case. Americans who have a problem with illegal immigration in general will just take offence at being told (especially in the terms Ahern used) that there is any particular group to whom the rules should not apply.

The Dubliner said...

Well, as someone who knows the Irish-American landscape inside-out, you're way wrong on thinking that the Irish lobbying doesn't gain results. Have you forgotten which group brought Clinton into the peace process and which group kept him there? Why you advocate sitting on one's hands and doing nothing as a political strategy is beyond me.

At any rate, the battle is well under way and will deliver results. If you're interested, here is the website of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which is chaired by Niall O'Dowd and his brilliant lobbying skills (you know who he is) and headed-up by Grant Lally (very well-connected to Bush). Dermot Ahern's assistance on this issue is hugely appreciated among Irish-Americans.

Wednesday said...

FFS, my comments had nothing to do with the peace process or with the effectiveness of the Irish-American lobby generally. I was specifically addressing Dermot Ahern's assertion that the Irish are entitled to live in the US. If you think statements like that are going to do anything but annoy the very people he needs to win over, you don't know those people very well (and having lived in Washington myself for a number of years, I do).

The Dubliner said...

Well, rather than simply claim that Mr. Ahern's comments have angered the folks on Capitol Hill, why don't you post the statements of those whom who claim his statement has angered, expressing said anger? Because you've gotten it wrong? ;)

Also, your link doesn't work, so I can't see the original context of the remarks. It could simply be (as I suspect is the case) that he arguing of the Irish above other groups, as it is right and proper for him to do.

The Dubliner said...


those whom you claim

he arguing the case of the Irish

It's easier to read without the typos, isn't it? ;)

Wednesday said...

I've fixed the link. It doesn't quote the full sentence in which he used the word "entitled", but I can't imagine a context he could use it in it which wouldn't have this effect.

And here are a few direct quotes from American friends who I have mentioned this to:

"Cause you know, PAST Irish Immigrants built up the US, which automatically means freeloading Irish people who are cutting in front of everyone else should be granted automatic citizenship, because they're Irish afterall!"

"Hmmmm, wonder what he has to say about Mexicans? Or Poles? Because you know, there are no Mexicans or Poles who are productive members of the U.S. economy."

"Things like that bring out my inner Republican." (and she didn't mean in the Pádraig Pearse sense)

And these are from progressive Americans who are inclined to be sympathetic to immigration reform. The House Republicans who Ahern has to win over are of the nativist, damn-furriners variety. I don't have much contact with people like that anymore (and I can't say I'm sorry about that!) but if even the liberals are taking offence, you can be absolutely certain they would.

Incidentally, Mr. Wednesday is a diplomat, and he was also taken aback to hear about this, based simply on the fact that it's not protocol for a Foreign Affairs Minister (who is essentially the head of the Diplomatic Service) to come across so demanding about the rights of their country's citizens in a country where they are guests.

Anonymous said...

It's being discussed here too:


Wednesday said...

Heh. Not exactly a céad míle fáilte, is it?

The Dubliner said...

Oh, well that's me told! Irrelevant supposition and a link to the opinion of one poster (his first post) on a message board are definitely supporting evidence of your claim that Mr. Ahern has angered senior policymakers on Capitol Hill!

Anyway, just keeping you moving on your agile toes!

The Dubliner said...

Incidently, the ALIPAC site that you linked to doesn't support any "illegals" in the US, but wants ALL of them deported irrespective of the merits of individual or group cases, so it's view is anti-retention irrespective to Mr. Ahern's comments. You can't argue that Mr. Ahern's comments led to that site's members being anti-retention of the illegal Irish when it's members joined that site because they already held that position on the issue, can you? ;)

"ALIPAC supports those that legally immigrate, but we DO NOT support any amnesty, visa expansion, or "Guest Worker" program designed to reward illegal aliens or legalize their presence in the US."

Wednesday said...

The statement in my original post:

the use of such a presumptuous word as "entitled" will do nothing but get the backs up of those Americans not naturally inclined to be sympathetic to the reform proposals.

is amply demonstrated by the quotes I posted yesterday (as well as by the contributions to that message board).

The House republicans currently opposed to reform are mostly not "senior policymakers". The senior policymakers would be aware of the need to change the law.

Norteamericano said...

Ok. I normally just sit on the sidelines here, but I feel impelled to hop in.
First, some disclosure: I know and am favorably disposed to the blogger in general. I also have friends of Irish descent and am favorably disposed to the Irish. I am an American citizen by birth. Some of my great grandparents were immigrants to the United States (probably prior to any legal restrictions) from a variety of countries who may have subsequently became U.S. citizens. At least one of my great grandparents became a citizen as a result of the U.S. conquest of California from Mexico.
Here is my view. It is true that many Irish have made significant contributions to the American society and economy -- mostly positive (but not all -- see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Kearney). But this is also true of immigrants from other countries. The crucial point is that the immigration issue is, at this particular point in history, highly divisive. The division is primarily between those who favor strengthening the barriers to illegal immigration entirely through more effective enforcement measures and those who favor a combination of stronger enforcement and some level of accomodation to the 12 million or so who are already present illegally. Any attempt to urge special treatment for a particular ethnic segment of those who are here illegally is something that I personally find offensive and also feel would tend to divide and therefore lessen the chances of those who support the option of providing something beyond simple enforcement. Though a descendant of pre-American Californios, I see no merit in the argument that illegal immigrants from Mexico are entitled to stay in the formerly Mexican States. I likewise see no merit in any other entitlement based on some theory of ethnic "betterness". Individual behavior and contributions certainly might be recognized, but I would hope we are beyond the point of general ethnic discrimination.

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