Biden says 50,000 illegal Irish immigrants need to be brought ‘out of the shadows’

Quoting Bono, WB Yeats and Heaney, vice-president says US immigration system ‘needs to be fixed’

US vice president Joe Biden has urged a resolution to the illegal immigrant issue

US vice president Joe Biden has urged a resolution to the illegal immigrant issue


US vice-president Joe Biden has said the 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants should to be brought “out of the shadows”, saying they and other “undocumented” in the US “should be entitled to earn a path to citizenship”.

Speaking at an Irish-American event in New York, Mr Biden spoke about his ancestors, the Blewitts from Co Mayo and Finnegans from Co Louth, who sailed from Ireland in the 1830s and 1850s, and of thousands of Irish immigrants now in the US, “50,000 of whom have not yet reached safe harbour”.

“They are Americans but they are not citizens – they are undocumented. We need to find a fair and effective and decent way to take them out of the shadows,” Mr Biden said.

The US immigration system was broken, he said, and “needs to be fixed”, echoing President Barack Obama, who has set the overhaul of US immigration laws as one of the central objectives of his second term.

Mr Biden said that under existing US immigration laws his Irish ancestors would not be able to emigrate to the US because of restrictions on families joining naturalised citizens.

Quoting Bono, WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney in his speech to the Irish America Hall of Fame lunch hosted by Irish America magazine, Mr Biden referred to his meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Washington on Wednesday where Mr Kenny raised the plight of the undocumented Irish. “He said: ‘Mr Vice-President, imagine not being able to go home for your mother’s funeral when you know you’ll never be able to come back,’” Mr Biden told guests.