Lack of State support for undocumented ‘hypocritical,’ says MRCI

Migrant rights group says failure to address plight of undocumented is ‘scandalous’

MRCI Director Edel McGinley has called on the Irish Government to look at their own immigration laws in the wake of the international outcry over the US government rescinding their DACA reform.


The Government needs to introduce regularisation schemes for the undocumented in Ireland and end the hypocrisy of providing support to the Irish undocumented in the US while ignoring those facing similar problems on our own shores, the migrant rights centre has said.

Edel McGinley, director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, described as “scandalous” the State’s failure to address the plight of the 20-26,000 undocumented workers across Ireland, saying the Government had “consistently ignored” calls for regularisation programmes which would give people the chance to legalise their immigration status.

Ms McGinley’s comments followed the announcement that US president Donald Trump has ended the Daca programme which gives temporary legal immigration status to people who arrived in the US illegally as children.

The programme, which was introduced in 2012 under Barack Obama, granted immigration approval to nearly 800,000 young people known as ‘Dreamers’.

Those eligible for the scheme needed to be students or have completed school or military service.

“I want to be really clear, there is nothing like Daca in Ireland,” Ms McGinley told The Irish Times, adding that an estimated 3-5,000 young people and children living in Ireland are undocumented.

“We have had no measures put in place to regularise any children or young people. The Government has consistently ignored and not acknowledged undocumented people in the State and it’s absolutely ludicrous and scandalous.”

In June 2017 an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar appointed Waterford TD John Deasy as a special envoy to the United States Congress to work for the undocumented Irish, highlighting people’s concern over the immigration policies being pursued by the Trump administration.

However, the Taoiseach has failed to take any steps to support the thousands of undocumented people here in Ireland.

Young people without official status are forced into working in the “grey economy” where they face exploitation, says Ms McGinley.

“There’s a massive impact on children’s mental health because they hide their undocumented status. They lie to their friends and that impacts massively on wellbeing and can impact in the long term on people’s lives.

“They can’t see a future for themselves beyond the age of 18.

“Absolutely we should have an outcry about what’s happened in the United States but we should also have an outcry about what’s happening to children and young people here.”

“We have a duty of care to people who have been in the State for a long time. We’re shirking and ignoring our responsibilities and the Government is absolutely hypocritical in the way it’s treating the undocumented population here when it’s out advocating for the rights of the Irish undocumented in the United States.”