I raise the issue of the undocumented in the United States. We saw the shutdown of the United States federal Government because of the failure to address the Dreamers programme. Mr. Dylan O’Riordan, now in prison in Boston, is awaiting deportation as effectively he is one of the Dreamers. He hopes to return to Ireland more quickly because one can spend up to six weeks in a prison waiting to be sent back to Ireland. His parents are still in the United States. He is one of the up to 50,000 undocumented Irish living in the United States.
We do not have an accurate figure of the number of undocumented Irish in the United States. For every undocumented Irish person living in the United States who was unable to come home for funerals and for family occasions, there are at least ten family members directly affected at home between parents and brothers and sisters. Some 500,000 people in Ireland are concerned about the issue of the undocumented Irish in the United States. Since the Trump Administration took office 12 months ago, arrests have increased by nearly 50% among the undocumented Irish. Some 34 people were deported and sent back to Ireland last year. The next three weeks is a critical period for the undocumented Irish, especially for people such as Dylan O’Riordan who was brought to the US as a child. He and others now face the threat of the Dreamer programme, which was established and supported by the Obama Administration being discontinued.
I know that Deputy Deasy will travel as the Government’s special envoy to the United States Congress to work for the undocumented Irish. Will the Leader request the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to come to the House to debate and outline what the Government will do during the next three weeks of engagement on Capitol Hill to ensure that the emigration reform package is part of our budgetary proposals, so that the undocumented Irish and the Dreamers who went to the United States as children would be accommodated and looked after. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade should tell us what we should be doing, not on St. Patrick’s Day because by that time the issue will have gone off the radar and will be done and dusted. The Irish Government needs to engage now and I would like the Leader to ensure that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade comes to this Chamber and points out to Members, and to the 500,000 Irish people who are directly affected by this because they have loved ones in the United States, what the Government will do to make a difference in the lives of the up to 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States.