Smith presses need for Immigration Reform for undocumented Irish

FullSizeRender– As many as 50,000 people are affected –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade Brendan Smith has called on Minister Simon Coveney to increase pressure on the US for a bilateral visa arrangement for Irish citizens.

Deputy Smith says he’s disappointed at the lack of progress being made in relation to the undocumented Irish in the US.

“Despite the recent visit to the US by the Taoiseach and the Foreign Affairs Minister, we have not seen the issue of the undocumented Irish progressed at all.  This is an issue that affects thousands of families across the country whose loved ones are living in the US.  Because of their undocumented status they are unable to travel home, even in the most tragic of circumstances, for fear of being caught and deported”, explained Deputy Smith.

“A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of a family friend.  Her daughter, who had been the US for 14 years, was unable to return home for her mother’s funeral. She had not seen her since she emigrated. Understandably, this was a major upset for a family.  This is happening in most counties, especially where people emigrated to the States in the 1980s.

“The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform has brought forward a proposal calling on the US embassy to lift the three and ten-year ban on returning Irish immigrants.  There are a large number of undocumented who would be able to regularise their status through investment visas or sponsorship visas, however, under the current system, they would have to come home to finalise their application, and there is a very high risk that they may not be allowed back into the US.

“I would like to see a system similar to the bilateral reciprocal visa arrangement which exists between the US and Australia.  We need to see the political will exercised to progress this important issue and I will be continuing to press this policy with the Minister until a satisfactory agreement is reached”.