‘Give visas to 10,500 illegal Irish in the US’, say TDs and senators
A delegation of TDs and Senators have met with members of the US Congress, calling on them to help the Irish living illegally in America.
They want the House of Representatives to give a new E3 visa to allow 10,500 Irish to work legally in the States each year.
Earlier this year, the US Senate approved an overhaul of America’s immigration system but it is being held up by Republicans, who the Irish delegation are attempting to get on side.
Fianna Fail Senator Mark Daly said the Irish who have made their lives in America need to be helped, despite their illegal status.
He added: “They have houses, they have children who are going to school yet they’re undocumented and therefore liable to deportation at any stage.
“There’s Irish citizens every day of the week being picked up in Boston, New York, Chicago and spending six weeks in jail before eventually being sent back to Ireland so we’re trying to stop that.”
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade members will continue their lobbying today.
And Sinn Fein’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Sean Crowe admitted he is disappointed immigration reform hasn’t yet been introduced – despite so many attempts.
The TD said: “Ten years ago I travelled to Washington DC with a cross-party delegation to lobby on this very issue.
“Unfortunately with an election looming we were unsuccessful at that time, but since then there has been a significant shift in US politics and there is now a real palpable chance immigration reform could become a reality.
“We are all aware of the significant amount of Irish in the USA, and unfortunately an estimated 50,000 are now living there undocumented and since 9/11 are in a very precarious position.
“Immigration reform would be hugely beneficial for this group of Irish immigrants and there has been cross party support right across this island in favour of seeing immigration reform pass successfully through the US Congress.” Last week, President Barack Obama insisted immigration reform remains a priority.
He said: “We should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system. The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do.”
But the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland blasted the Government’s decision to concentrate on the undocumented Irish in the US and not the estimated 30,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland.
Deputy director Edel McGinley said: “Undocumented migrants here in Ireland have exactly the same needs.”