Undocumented Irish in US welcome reform plan
Helping also to advance the case of the undocumented Irish in the US is Ciaran Staunton, a long-time campaigner on behalf of immigration reform and someone who has access to high-ranking politicians in both houses.
“In the last five years, 0.1 of 1 per cent of immigrants getting visas for here were Irish. We come 85th in the table of legal visas being awarded.
“As well as dealing with the undocumented issue, we need to also get proper legal future flow of emigrants from Ireland to the US.
“We welcome the fact we have bipartisan support in the Senate now, and people like former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and former Florida governor Jed Bush are advocating for reform.”
The cause of the undocumented Irish was further bolstered when US president Barack Obama put his weight behind reform of US immigration laws and referenced the Irish who left as a result of the Famine.
“The time has come for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform. The time is now. Now’s the time,” the president said, giving hope to the many thousands of Irish hoping for legal certainty.
Case study: Illegal in Boston
Conor (30) is from Cork and is living in Boston as an undocumented immigrant.
“I’ve been here three years this September. I drive around the local area but I don’t have a licence. I have only worked a few days since Christmas and one of the problems is that you need a clean driver’s licence for most jobs.
“For some companies, you also need a police clearance check and a social security number, so those jobs are ruled out. “There is work here, it just tends to be from Irish companies and can be very seasonal.
“I know a lot of people in the same boat legally as me. My family can come here to visit, but my brother is disabled and he can’t fly so I haven’t seen him since I left. I know he won’t ever forget me, but it is hard.
“Last week, for example, a friend of mine living here got a call from his mum to say his father died in a car crash. He has a full-time job here so does he risk all that to attend the funeral? He can’t, especially when things are so bad at home.
“I rang a lawyer about my situation and they said because I overstayed my initial 90-day visa, there is no way at present I could get legal status. So, we’re all hoping these proposed new laws will help.
“They need Irish immigrants over here – many of us keep the country running.”