Unintended Consequences reveals how America’s door closed on legal Irish immigration in the 1960s, and how America’s Irish mounted a counterattack when nation-changing political forces were sweeping the country during the era of civil rights, political assassinations, and the Vietnam War.
This book looks at the full historical background to Irish migration across the Atlantic, how it helped shape the young republic, and how the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 brought a near total halt to this westward flow. Nevertheless, the Irish would not be denied and continued to make the journey, no longer into the light of a full and legal American life, but rather into the shadows of an undocumented existence. Successive organisations championed the undocumented Irish, and the fight continues to this day, but this is a new America, where, in recent years, there has been growing hostility to immigrants of every nationality. Ray O’Hanlon has spent over three decades reporting on battles over comprehensive U.S. immigration reform, and Unintended Consequences is the story of the Irish past, its present, and most uncertain future in the ‘land of the free,’ now in the presidency of Joe Biden, a man who fully embraces his Irish immigrant family story. Through Biden, the great Irish of America story continues, and with renewed hope.