Focus on status of undocumented migrants


MIGRATION:THE INTRODUCTION of a scheme to regularise undocumented people in Ireland would give credibility to efforts to persuade the US to regularise tens of thousands of undocumented Irish citizens there, according to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.

The organisation made the call to coincide with US president Barack Obama’s visit to Ireland.

Mr Obama earlier this month called for immigration reform in the US.

Edel McGinley, of the migrant rights centre, said there is no difference between the undocumented Irish seeking regularisation in the US and undocumented immigrants living and working in this country.

“Just like the Irish in the US, they too are deeply rooted within our communities, working, paying taxes and trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. But they live in the shadows under tremendous stress and fear of deportation, and they endure greater poverty and isolation.

“They are effectively cut off from visiting their extended families, are more vulnerable to exploitation, and are excluded from basic services and opportunities for progression.

“Many people became undocumented in Ireland due to the previous government’s failure to establish coherent immigration structures and policies. Ireland has the opportunity to provide a fair and pragmatic solution to this situation by introducing a regularisation scheme which considers both the rights and responsibilities of undocumented migrants and the Irish State,” Ms McGinley said.

The group is calling for an earned regularisation programme which, unlike an amnesty, would provide undocumented immigrants with the opportunity to earn residency over a period of time provided they pay PRSI and taxes. “So it’s not a free ride – people have to earn their right to stay over a given period of time,” Ms McGinley said.

The group estimates there are about 30,000 undocumented people living in Ireland, a figure which the group says is based on section 3 deportations outlined in the Department of Justice annual report 2008 and EU statistics, which point to a 0.4 per cent undocumented rate in the European population, and the group’s own data.