House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who repeatedly has blocked legislation providing citizenship to mostly Latino immigrants brought to the United States as children, is pushing a bill that would give thousands of Irish nationals work visas.
The bill could give visas to workers from Ryan’s ancestral homeland. It would award unused E-3 visas to Irish nationals. At present, the visas are only available to Australians in “specialty occupations” that require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. In return, Ireland would provide work visas to Americans.
The legislation passed the House and is expected to clear the Senate next week, according to Politico. Even if it clears both houses of Congress, it would still need the approval of President Trump, whose position on the bill is unclear.
Breitbart, one of the Trump’s favorite right-wing sites, has criticized the bill for potentially taking away the jobs from young Americans. President Trump and his senior adviser Stephen Miller in the past have floated policies that would skew U.S. immigration to favor immigrants from majority-white countries.
Politico reported that Ryan’s forbears fled the potato famine in Ireland in the mid-19th century. He maintains close ties to the country and has said that he hopes one day to be U.S. ambassador to Dublin.
But the bill is tone deaf for the political moment in the United States.
Thousands of Central American migrants fleeing violence in their countries of origins are being turned away at ports of entry along the U.S. southern border, which is a violation of international human rights law.
The DHS policy of “metering” — limiting the number of asylum seekers allowed to enter the U.S. each day — leaves migrants and accompanying family members waiting for weeks, or even months, at border shelters.
Under the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, immigrants living in the U.S. on work visas who perform physically taxing labor may not be able to renew their visas if they accepted any government assistance, including SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), free or reduced lunch, or WIC, an assistance program for pregnant women and their infant children.
Estimates suggest roughly 24 million people would be affected by the rule.