March 9, 2006


Irish could play role in fight for immigrants' rights (MARK BROWN,
March 9, 2006, Chicago SUN-TIMES)

Billy Lawless moves with the purpose of a man on a mission as he exits his SUV and unlocks the front door of his Wrigleyville pub, not pausing to shake hands until we've made it inside. He's a big man, big enough that you wouldn't want to get in his way, and so I don't, until he smiles, extends a meaty paw and points at a sunlit table in the front.

Lawless tells me he's just come from a meeting on the Northwest Side with a Polish-American group, and he needs to hurry downtown for another meeting as soon as we finish.

The topic for both is the same: an immigration reform march that is expected to draw at least 10,000 demonstrators to Chicago on Friday afternoon. Lawless is trying to recruit as many marchers as possible, hoping to put a multi-ethnic face on an issue that is too often seen as only a Hispanic problem.

Lawless, 55, came here eight years ago from Galway, bringing with him not only his family but all the aged oak woodwork and fixtures for the interior of his bar, the Irish Oak. He's had enough success that his son will soon open another bar on Michigan Avenue.

But even though Lawless is here legally with a valid visa, he feels the urgency of those who aren't.

"There's so many people I know who are undocumented," he says, citing estimates of between 5,000 and 7,000 undocumented Irish in Chicago alone.

This awareness has made Lawless sensitive not only to the plight of his Irish countrymen but also to the millions of other illegal immigrants in the U.S. whose fate rests on the outcome of legislation now coming to a head in Congress.

"It's not just a Mexican or Hispanic thing, Mark. We're all in the same boat," says Lawless, chairman of Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform.

Except that this time it's the second and third generation Irish and Italians trying to keep the Latinos out, just as it was the second and third generation Germans and Brits who tried keeping the Irish, Italian, Jews and Chinese out. And then there's those ties to terrorism, Security forces raid border home of IRA's alleged chief (SHAWN POGATCHNIK, 3/09/06, Associated Press)
Police, soldiers and customs officials from both parts of Ireland launched a dawn raid Thursday on the border home of the Irish Republican Army's alleged chief of staff, Thomas “Slab” Murphy.

At least 300 soldiers and officers from the Garda Siochana, Ireland's national police, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland raided about a dozen properties in a borderland area nicknamed "bandit country" because of its history as the IRA's rural power base.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2006 9:18 AM

estimates of between 5,000 and 7,000 undocumented Irish in Chicago alone.

So those Irish are still sneaking in? Cor. I thought Chicago was just the Poles in illegally.

Also, about the terrorism thing -- I think it's something we Americans ought to feel terribly ashamed about. There's so many people who identify as Irish (for reasons incomprehensible to me -- even though I'm 1/8 or 1/12 Irish or so, I can't imagine calling myself "Irish," the way some people who are even less Irish than I am, like John Kerry, try to do) and that community as a whole seems to have played a large role in propping up those loathsome beasts in the IRA, sending money, and pressuring our government to come down on the side of the terrorists. My understanding is that IRA thugs have even come over here to the USA for shelter while dreaming up new ways to blow up policemen and postoffices and whatnot.

Englishmen have pointed to that as a monumental hypocrisy in our war on terror, and I think they're right.

We ought to police entry to and egress from our country much, much better than we do. Part of that is controlling our southern and northern borders -- giving streamlined workers VISAs for the truckers and the people in the border towns in Mexico and Canada who cross over regularly to work for American businesses, and subjecting the rest to a cursory review so we at least have their names, a photo, some valid home-country ID, and a general trajectory on file, and (if the computer systems allow it) a quick check against computerised criminal records in our own and other countries. And an even more important part -- what with our concerns about terrorism -- is scrutinising and keeping track of those who come over by plane or boat.

Like those Irish.

Posted by: Taeyoung at March 9, 2006 10:12 AM


My ethnic group is freedom fighters. Yours is terrorist....

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 10:18 AM

--He's had enough success that his son will soon open another bar on Michigan Avenue.---

Really pricy real estate for a bar, depending on where the address is.


I've run into a lot of English who try and tar-and-feather US w/the IRA.

I ask them are you telling me that Indian-Americans, African-Americans - go thru the list -- supported the IRA? Or just Irish-Americans?

Posted by: Sandy P. at March 9, 2006 10:46 AM

Sandy, a lot of the groups you mention might support the IRA just because they are anti-British and pro-Arab. The enemy of my enemy type of thing.

Posted by: erp at March 9, 2006 11:45 AM

The Celts group appears to be small, but there's a larger group called the "Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform" that also supports "immigrants rights". Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Oh, BTW, they're also funded by the Irish government.

All these sympathetic people and stories are great, it's too bad that few reporters or bloggers manage to look behind what we're being told.

Posted by: TLB at March 10, 2006 11:20 PM