President Michael D Higgins has said he is optimistic about the future of the undocumented Irish in the US.
He said he was confident their situation would improve within the
President Higgins was speaking after a meeting with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – the first official engagement on his trip to mid-western US.
Chicago is traditionally a strong Irish American City and the first stop on the President’s trip, focussing on the Irish community.
Mayor Emanuel is a major proponent of immigration reform and the two men discussed the plight of the undocumented Irish in the US.
There are approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US, with about 5,000 of those in the Chicago area.
President Higgins said he was optimistic that there would be some development for the undocumented Irish within the next year.
Mr Higgins said that he as President of Ireland he was “obviously concerned about these people and the difficulties they face with families, and issues which stand as obstacles to their full participation in the American economy and society”.
Speaking afterwards, the President said his conversation with Mayor Emmanuel had been all the richer because they were able to draw on recent developments in the immigration reform process.
These included meetings the mayor had yesterday with the Secretary for Homeland Security in Washington.
President Higgins said he was pleased to hear how these discussions were progressing.
The President and the mayor also discussed a range of other issues relating to the arts and film incentives.
Mayor Emanuel invited the President to march in Chicago’s St Patrick’s Day parade next year and to officially open a special Irish art exhibition next year at the Chicago Art Institute.