Sen. Barbara Mikulski wants to help the Polish. Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to help the Irish. Sen. Marco Rubio wants to woo foreign workers to help after national emergencies. And Sen. Mazie Hirono wants to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their families.
As negotiations over a sweeping immigration deal comes to a head, senators are rapidly moving to resolve a bevy of narrow and parochial issues raised by lawmakers nervous about the impact of the far-reaching plan.
Schumer, sources say, was successful in adding language aimed at helping Irish immigrants — many of whom live in New York City. The New York Democrat has long pushed to add Ireland to the E-3 visa program that is currently just available to Australians, meaning about 10,000 new visas would be given to the Irish under the Schumer effort.
Similarly, Mikulski — who is not a member of the gang — urged the negotiators to include language similar to a bill she drafted with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to help Poland into the visa waiver program. The provision would allow travelers who want to visit family and do business while cutting down on the bureaucratic process. And it would be welcomed by the large Polish communities in Baltimore, Chicago and other American cities.