Lone US senator dashes Paul Ryan’s dreams of a visa giveaway for Ireland

Tom Cotton put a "hold" on the bill, blocking it from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

Paul Ryan at the "Friends of Ireland" lunch at the U.S. Capitol on March 16, 2017. (Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Paul Ryan at the "Friends of Ireland" lunch at the U.S. Capitol on March 16, 2017. (Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)

It was to have been Paul Ryan’s parting gift to an ever-browner America.

In the waning days of his tenure in the House of Representatives, Speaker Ryan (R-WI) quietly but doggedly pushed a bill that would have secured visas for thousands of people from Ireland seeking jobs in the United States.

But wait, you say: Didn’t Ryan repeatedly block thousands of immigrants from other countries seeking to come to the United States looking to work, including thousands of would-be immigrants thronging the southern U.S. border and many more fleeing repressive regimes in Africa and Asia? The answer would be yes.

But those people don’t hail from the Emerald Isle, land of Ryan’s forbears and the country he aspires one day to live in as U.S. ambassador.


The legislation, H.R. 7164,  would have given thousands of Irish nationals unused E-3 visas. Currently, just one country, Australia, enjoys the benefit of the coveted work visas.

It seems almost too obvious to point out that both Ireland and Australia are both majority white, at a time when Republicans have been apoplectic about the “browning” of America. The United States is expected to be majority non-white by 2045, according to U.S. Census projections.

As The Irish Times reported on Friday, the legislation died after conservative U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) put a “hold” on the bill, which last week cleared the House by a voice vote. It’s not entirely clear what prompted Cotton to block the measure, but the right-wing site Breitbart had criticized it for potentially taking away jobs from young American workers.

The bill was defeated despite intense lobbying from Irish officials in Washington. Now that it is losing its strongest proponent, with Ryan headed toward the House exit, it appears to be dead for good. It is unlikely to get the needed support from Democrats once they take over leadership of the House next month.

President Donald Trump never voiced his support or opposition for the measure. Over the years, however, he has made abundantly clear how he feels about immigrants from counties with majority black and brown people, specifically maligning people from Africa and Haiti as coming from shit hole countries.