In the late 1980s, amid immigration reform in the United States, legislators and lobbyists secured generous visa allotments for Irish immigrants, whose path to legal residency in the United States narrowed after the 1965 Hart-Celler Act abolished the national origins quota system. Claiming that the new law discriminated against Europeans, Irish advocates framed their campaign as an effort to diversify the post-1965 immigrant pool, which was predominantly Asian and Latin American. By examining the rhetoric deployed in congressional hearings and media appearances, this article considers how groups like the Irish negotiated the terms of their whiteness in the post–civil rights era. It also addresses the global dimensions of this case study, including Irish lobbyists’ coalition with other (nonwhite) immigrant groups, concurrent immigration reform in Australia and Canada, the effect of the Northern Irish civil war and US-Irish diplomatic relations, and its legacies in a newly multicultural contemporary Ireland.

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