8 November 2007 Edition

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Ferris supports undocumented Irish in United States

Martin Ferris

Martin Ferris

Sinn FÉin TD Martin Ferris has added his voice to those calling for the status of undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States to be regularised. The Kerry North TD was speaking in support of a Private Members Motion on the issue in the Dáil this evening.
Highlighting the plight of an estimated 50,000 Irish people, Deputy Ferris said: “While being undocumented may not at first be an issue, especially if a person is only intending to stay for a short period, once that person sets down any roots then he or she will run into enormous difficulties. This can relate to everything from applying for driving licenses to getting married and having children.
“Because of that many people enter a twilight zone in which although they are hard working and law abiding in every other way, they are forced to lead the lives of outlaws. Families have also been affected where people living and settled in the United States have been unable to return to Ireland for serious family problems and are faced with the dilemma of damaging either their original family here or their new family in the US. Often two people without legal status are in a relationship which exacerbates the problem.
“For many years it would appear that the American authorities were prepared to be fairly lax in their approach to Irish immigrants. Often people were not only working but paying tax. Of late, however, there have been several arrests. Some within Irish communities believe that there is in fact a deliberate campaign to target Irish immigrants and this has led to a good deal of fear.
“Despite the numbers involved there appears to be no sense of urgency from the Irish Government on the issue. Senator Schumer has come up with proposals in relation to the issue that are supported by Irish groups in the US and which the Irish Government needs to be seen to be behind.
“The Taoiseach and Foreign Minister need to follow the example of Australian Prime Minister John Howard who came to Washington to lobby on behalf of his citizens who were in the same position. Only by doing so can the huge fund of goodwill that exists towards Irish people in the US both because of the peace process and for historical reasons be tapped.”

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