With uncertain futures many Irish immigrants in America are looking to groups like NORAID and IIRM for support.
NORAID organise some of the most successful fundraisers, with the best entertainment. Many Irish immigrants, previously not politically motivated find they have different priorities in America.
One NORAID recruit is impressed by how much the Irish Americans are doing. A fundraiser in Boston, attended by over 400 young Irish people raised 50,000 dollars, with the money directly going from New York to Belfast.
The main feeling amongst the Irish in America is the established political process is frozen and political amnesty for illegal immigrants is unpopular in the Senate and House of Representatives.
The only vocal supporters are Mayor of Boston Raymond Flynn and Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy. Senator Kennedy says the level of unemployment in Massachusetts is 2.5%,
I have businessmen approach me day in and day out saying can’t you find me good young people that we can hire, and the fact is that you can find them.
Since October 1987 the best an immigrant can hope for is a temporary job and they are wide open to be exploited by those looking for cheap labour.
The Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) was set up in 1987 primarily to legalise the status of undocumented immigrants from Ireland and 34 other countries adversely affected by America’s 1965 Immigration Act.
The movement spends most of its energy holding benefits for injured people and unlike NORAID its members have to work full time.
Gregg Glynn from the Boston branch of the IIRM says things are getting worse for Irish people working illegally in America. Employers are now being fined for hiring people without the requisite paperwork, and because Americans do not want to break the law, a large number of Irish people are losing their jobs.
It’s just going to be harder for those to get work without the correct papers.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 30 May 1988. The reporter is Gerry Reynolds.