Irish Will Emigrate, But Fewer To New York

In the past, when Ireland's economy suffered, many Irish came to New York to find work. But with Ireland's current downturn, the founder of New York’s most prominent Irish newspaper says the Irish are more likely to head elsewhere, with more attractive immigration policies..

Tens of thousands of Irish will probably leave Ireland over the next couple years and Niall O'Dowd of the Irish Voice said he sees them choosing London, Canada and Australia over the United States. 

“There is no welcoming light shining from the Statue of Liberty these days,” O’Dowd said. “The Irish who've come here for 250 years are really unable to come here legally in any great numbers.”

Immigration policies in Canada and Australia are designed to attract skilled workers and Irish emigrants tend to fit that bill. The U.S. issues relatively few skilled worker visas. So many of the Irish who moved here in recent decades did so illegally. O'Dowd said that is less likely to happen now, with the U.S. deporting more immigrants than ever.

“The word is out in Ireland that this is a very unwelcome country to immigrants,” he said, “and that Irish need not apply essentially.”

O'Dowd is among immigrant advocates pushing the U.S. to issue more work visas and a path to legalization for people in the country illegally.