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Reform not dead, but hanging by a thread

In fact, Morrison told the group, the first signs of congressional legislation with reform in mind could be expected to emerge in February, or perhaps March.

With February almost over, there is little sign of concrete action on Capitol Hill while this week, one experienced commentator, Niall O'Dowd, predicted that the reform effort had run into a wall.

"Comprehensive immigration reform for 2010 and beyond is dead," the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform co-founder wrote is a website column.

That said, however, efforts to pull together a reform bill, first in the U.S. Senate and then the house of Representatives, are still proceeding, albeit slowly, in Washington.

And ILIR, which has maintained its campaign ready stance over several years, is holding a public meeting in Quincy, Mass. this weekend at which the main speaker will be Rep. William Delahunt, now seen as a key figure in the House by reform backers.

Sources familiar with the reform effort in Washington - one which has clearly taken a back seat to health care reform in recent months - say that work is still proceeding in an effort to stitch together a bill in the Senate, the main sponsors of which will be Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.

The reform camp is looking to support from four or five Republicans, this to possibility offset possible opposition from a similar number of Senate Democrats.

Observers point to a painstaking process, one in which lessons are being drawn from the failed effort by the late Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator John McCain to pass a bill in the last Congress.

This effort is focused on establishing firm understandings with both labor and business, and satisfying members of both the Senate and House that border security has been firmly established. In addition, a bill will only have a chance of success if a new system of biometric employee identity cards is ready to roll.

Any eventual bill will have to deal with the twin pillars of the existing undocumented and illegal population, thousands of Irish among them, and "future flow," the precise basis for the admission of immigrants to the U.S.

One source close to the legislative process admitted to what he called "a very challenging (legislative) environment" but addede that reports of reform's demise were premature.

Meanwhile, ILIR's rally in Quincy, which will also feature Bruce Morrison as a speaker, is set for this Saturday, Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. in The Tirrell Room, 254 Quarry Street, Quincy.

Rep. Delahunt, who has previously met with ILIR leaders in his Washington office, is seen as being well positioned on immigration issues being a member House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee where much of any future immigration reform legislation will be decided.

Should a reform bill pass the Senate, it is seen as being a near certainty that a majority of house members will also vote for an overhaul of the nation's troubled immigration system.

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