In the US Immigration Reform 2013 bill submitted in April to the US Senate, there are actually a few provisions hidden in the fine details of the bill that most people, including me, missed. Essentially these are new special immigration rules specific to certain countries to address supposed inequities in the law as stated by Gang of Eight co-sponsor, Senator Charles Schummer of NY.
The reality of these country specific immigration reforms is that they are the result of heavy lobbying from local ethno-centric interest groups and foreign governments on behalf of their citizens. For example the lobbying effort for an E-3 visa for Irish citizens similar to the E-3 visa for Australian citizens has been going on pretty much since 2005 when the Australian version was introduced and in reality in some form since 1990 when a previous amnesty of sorts (often known as the Morrison visa) when a one-off change gave a visa to over 40,000 Irish citizens in the US.
Current estimates state their are probably 55,000 illegal Irish immigrants in the US but these are rarely mentioned in the press and not considered high priority anywhere in US Government or society for demonization because of the long Irish connection of immigration to the US dating back to the 1800s mainly. Cities like Boston, Chicago and NY are well known for their huge Irish ancestry, large St. Patrick’s Day Parades, identification in law enforcement like the BPD & NYPD and major US figures like President John F. Kennedy.
The four country specific changes proposed in the original version of the bill now being scrutinized particularly on the Republican side of the Senate for Canada, South Korea, Ireland and Poland are;
1. E-3 Visa for Irish citizens with a quota of 10,500 (exactly the same as E-3 Visa currently for Australians)
2. Polish Citizens to no longer need a tourist visa like the B-1 and be on the Visa Waiver list with the ESTA
3. Canadian Citizens over the age of 55 who do no intend to work in US be allowed to stay for up to 240 Days consecutively (up from current 180 day level)
4. E-3 type visa for South Korean citizens with a quote of 5,000 given their similar free-trade agreement with US in 2011 (an original separate bill was proposed earlier with a quota of 15,000)
It will be interesting to see if in whole or part if Immigration Reform passes whether these minor parts of the legislation are allowed to stand.