“They live in fear,” said Mr. McHugh.
Fear, of course, is even greater among Latino unauthorized immigrants. Police raids and racial profiling are less a problem for the Irish in the Bronx than for Mexicans in Arizona and California. The Irish are not, as a group, as traumatized and destitute as the Central Americans fleeing to the border, and they are not — yet — seeking sanctuary in churches. They blend in better than the Latinos who are shadowed by immigration agents and the local police.
But the despair is the same, as is the hopelessness. Skyping your parent’s funeral hurts the same whether you are Irish or Guatemalan.
There was a time, about a decade ago, when Senator Edward Kennedy was alive and leading a bipartisan congressional push for immigration reform. His Republican ally Senator John McCain visited a buoyant meeting of the Irish diaspora in Yonkers and pledged action. Emotions and hope ran high.
Now, Mr. McHugh said, he has no hope to offer. “When people are feeling as flattened as they are,” he said, “it would be a dereliction of duty to build up any expectation.”
Many leading Irish-Americans know what Mr. Trump is up to. The mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, has vowed to fight the White House on behalf of his sanctuary city. Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, finds it infuriating that the Irish government is not standing up to Mr. Trump over immigration. “That the Irish — of all people — would shower this immigrant-bashing president with shamrocks is appalling,” he said in a statement read aloud on Thursday at an immigrant-solidarity rally in Dublin.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday, the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, voiced the mildest of demurrals. “We would like this to be sorted,” he told Mr. Trump. “It would remove a burden of so many people that they can stand out in the light and say, ‘Now I am free to contribute to America as I know I can.’ ”
It’s sad to see the Irish leader gingerly trying to steer the president of the United States away from a white-nationalist, anti-immigrant agenda. Nobody knows, from tweet to tweet, where America is headed. But immigration agents are spreading terror on the ground, and Mr. Trump is asking Congress for billions, for detention centers and deportations, for immigration officers and border agents, for the wall.
Message too long. Click here to view full text.