Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith TD, has called on the Government to continue to pursue the plight of the undocumented Irish in the US. The issue was raised during Priority Questions in the Dáil, in light of Tanáiste Eamon Gilmore’s recent visit to Washington.
Deputy Smith commented , “Almost 50,000 Irish people are affected by their “illegal” status in the US. This causes untold hardship and heartbreak for them, and for their families in Ireland. It has a huge impact on their ability to work and at times it means they are unable to return home for family occasions. Many of them have not returned to Ireland since they moved to the United States, and I hear regular stories from families whose children have not been home for more than a decade. This is an important issue that cannot be allowed to fall off the political agenda. The Minister needs to ensure that there is continued pressure and dialogue between himself and US politicians.
“I’m concerned by the recent remarks from US House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that at present she holds out little hope of Congress passing comprehensive legislation on immigration reform given the present political difficulties. While it’s important that we continue to give a positive message to the families and individuals and representative organisations who contact us from the United States, we shouldn’t raise expectations to a level that will not be realised.
“The Irish Government has a significant role to play in ensuring that Irish citizens who have been living in the US for years are afforded the same rights and protection that they are entitled to at home. In many cases, these men and women whose children are American citizens are themselves unable to travel back to Ireland without real difficulties.
“I’m urging the Minister to continue raising the issue with his counterparts in the US so that it does not fall down the political agenda. It is an issue that is of huge importance to the thousands of families across the country who have a son or daughter living in the US without proper citizenship status.