Gilmore mindful of human dimension to problem of illegal Irish in the US

Contacts continuing with key US administration figures

Undocumented Irish protesters in New York. Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he was mindful of the human dimension to the problem of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US.

Undocumented Irish protesters in New York. Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he was mindful of the human dimension to the problem of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US.

Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 01:01


Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he was mindful of the human dimension to the problem of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US.

He said he had met some of those who were in the US for a number of years.

“They cannot come home for family funerals or other family events. I have seen members of families having to travel out to see newly born grandchildren because they cannot bring them home.’’

Mr Gilmore said he had maintained contact, directly and through the Irish Embassy in Washington, with many key players in Congress who were influential in steering US immigration reform.

He had also maintained contact with key figures in the US administration and with Irish-American community representatives.


Undocumented Irish
“I have reiterated throughout all of these contacts the Government’s interest in all aspects of immigration reform and, in particular, our interest in seeing an overall agreement reached which provides relief for currently undocumented Irish migrants and a facility for future flows of legal migration between Ireland and the US.’’

Mr Gilmore welcomed the US Senate’s approval of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernisation Bill in June of last year providing for extensive reform of the immigration system.

It included provisions that would legalise the status of undocumented Irish and provide a path to permanent residency. It also provided for the future flows of legal migration between Ireland and the US via the proposed E-3 visa.

Mr Gilmore said the focus had since shifted to the House of Representatives, and a key factor was convincing the Republican House majority of the importance of making progress.


Consolidated Bill
“It remains to be seen whether a consolidated Bill can be agreed between the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is generally accepted that securing overall agreement will be a complex and challenging process, also in light of other issues on the congressional agenda which may be unrelated but can impact negatively on efforts to secure the necessary bipartisan agreement.’’

Fianna Fáil spokesman Brendan Smith urged the Tánaiste to continue with his work. “I realise he has been constantly working at it, but we need to send a message to our constituents and the people at large that this issue is being given due consideration at home and in the United States. ’’

Mr Gilmore said the Bill passed by the Senate would resolve the problem by providing a means by which the undocumented would be legalised. “The problem is that it has not been possible to progress it in the House of Representatives.’’