American lawyer Robert Hickey will take his first steps into the legal profession as an advocate in Ireland this month, after a stint working for the State Department in Washington, D.C. Hickey was one of the first Americans to receive a green card after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.
He has since moved to the US and is now a lawyer at the law firm Hogan Lovells.
“This was the first opportunity I had in my life to make a real difference,” he said.
Hiccups lawyers will speak at the annual legal conference on March 8 and 9 in Denver.
The event will also be hosted by the Irish Bar Association and Irish Justice Network, which advocates for Irish-American lawyers.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for Irish people to come to Colorado and see how their lawyers are working in this state and to see how we can make a difference here,” said Hickey, who was a judge on the state’s Court of Appeals before joining Hogan Lovelli last year.
The US Justice Department and other US agencies have been reviewing the way Irish lawyers are applying for green cards, following the murder of two Irish nationals in Colorado in April.
The FBI is also investigating the murder.
US immigration lawyers said it was unclear how the Irish lawyers could apply for visas after being in the country less than two weeks.
However, the US Justice department has said the visa process for Irish nationals was streamlined following the murders.
The Irish Law Reform Commission said it had not seen any new evidence that US officials had been concerned about Irish lawyers seeking visas to practise in the US.
“We have a number of Irish-Americans in our office and we’ve never had any problems with that,” said Peter Murphy, a commission member and president of the law and society organisation.
“As far as I know, the State has not been notified of any new visa requests.”
The commission said it would be reviewing the current application procedures and whether they needed to be changed to accommodate Irish applicants.
It is expected to recommend changes to the Irish visa application process in the coming months.
“While the application process is still in its early stages, there are a number elements that need to be strengthened to make sure we are not inadvertently making it harder for Irish lawyers to become US citizens,” Murphy said.
Irish law was also criticised last month when a US judge ruled that the government had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the Irish nationals had committed any crime.
The decision was challenged by US lawyers, who said it amounted to an unconstitutional deprivation of the right to life.
In response, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said his office was reviewing the decision.
The government said it has taken steps to strengthen the system to prevent this kind of discrimination and that it had identified the Irish lawyer who committed the crime.
“These changes will ensure that the US Attorney’s Office and other federal prosecutors are more confident that the law is being applied impartially, without discrimination, and in a way that is consistent with the fundamental right to due process,” said the US attorney’s office in a statement.
US Attorney Anthony Romero, a member of the US House of Representatives’ immigration subcommittee, said the ruling would be an important step in the fight against racial profiling and in the prosecution of immigration crimes.
He said the law had to be “strong and fair”, adding that he hoped the US would continue to fight the case in the courts.
The number of US green cards awarded to Irish-born Americans has risen steadily since Trump took office.
In March, the number was more than 1,100.
Since then, the figure has jumped to more than 2,500, a rise of more than 200 per cent.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected in Ireland in April for talks with Irish ministers.
In addition to a review of the visa system, the Department of Justice is reviewing the application of the Dublin Port Authority for green card holders who are not Irish-Citizens and Irish nationals who have been living in the United States for more than 180 days, a US official told The Irish Independent.
The Dublin Port is one of nine ports of entry in the state that is not listed as a US state, meaning that Irish nationals cannot apply for a green-card without going through a process of applying through the Irish authorities.
“I hope that we can move the discussion forward,” said Mr Murphy, who is also the president of US Justice Network.
“But the process has to be fair and transparent and I hope that this will be the beginning of an end to this practice.”