A veteran of immigrant justice and a successful businessman, Billy Lawless immigrated to Chicago from Galway Ireland in 1998 with his wife Anne and family. Starting out with 10 employees in an Irish themed pub in Wrigleyville, Billy now owns six successful restaurants with his family in downtown Chicago employing over 300 people.
A co-founder of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, Vice President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Executive Committee Member of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Senator Lawless is a leader in the United States on immigration reform. He travels every year to Washington DC to speak with legislators. Senator Lawless is a frequent news commentator; he has published opinion pieces in Crain’s Chicago Business and was profiled by Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Lawless has rallied for immigration reform with President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago Blasé Cardinal Cupich, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, US Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, IL Speaker Madigan, IL Senate President Cullerton, Leader Senator Radogno and Leader Durkin. In May, 2016, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, appointed Senator Lawless to become the first Irish Senator to represent the Irish living overseas.