Members of the Dáil Select Committee on Foreign Affairs are in Washington to lobby on behalf of the estimated 20,000 undocumented Irish in the United States.

They arrive as the full US Senate debates proposals on immigration reform.

The legislation tabled by the Senate Judiciary Committee and currently being debated on the floor of the Senate broadly mirrors the proposals set out by Ted Kennedy and John McCain.

Both the Irish Government and the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in the US have welcomed the proposals. Over the next two days, five members of the Dáil committee, led by Chairman Michael Woods, will meet key Senators and Congressmen.

One of the people they will be meeting is the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, James Sensenbrenner.

He is co-sponsor of a House Bill that makes no provision for a guest worker programme and includes a clause making illegal immigration a criminal offence.

Even if the more lenient Senate Bill is passed, a compromise must be found with the House Bill.