Any plans to alleviate the plight of the undocumented in the US would be supported by the Government, said Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Manhattan last night.
He welcomed reports that a major announcement next week could be reassuring for many of the approximately 50,000 Irish living in the US without residency status but was also cautious not to impose himself on the impassioned debate over one of President Barack Obama’s key targets for the remaining two years of his occupancy of the White House.
It was revealed in the New York Times that Mr Obama will sign into law an executive order that would prevent immigration officials from deporting any individual with American born offspring.
It is understood almost 5m unauthorised immigrants will be protected from the threat of deportation, providing many of them with work permits.
“It is not for me to interfere in the American political system,” said Mr Kenny.
“But I do think that this is a very topical issue here and it is a very hot issue for the Irish.”
He said it was a chance for the US government to enable undocumented Irish “who wish to find a path to citizenship facility ... to go back to Ireland and return again to the United States”.
The Taoiseach also advocated for the issue on Thursday night when being honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the 52nd Ireland–US Council Annual Dinner at the plush Metropolitan Club near Central Park where he also encouraged the 300 guests at the $1,000 a plate gala to continue their investment ties with Ireland.
“I know the balance is between the President using his executive authority and the new changes in the set-up on Capitol Hill between the Senate and the Congress.
“I am not going to interfere in that except to say that Ireland will be very supportive of measures dealing with immigration which will solve our particular problem of the 50,000 that we have here who are undocumented. I have raised this with the president, with Speaker Boehner, on Capitol Hill, in the White House, on the number of occasions that I have been here,” the Taoiseach said.
“So obviously the political system will reflect on what it can do and hopefully whatever conclusion’s arrived at it is going to benefit our undocumented here in the United States. We would be very supportive of that.”
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