Children win right to stay in EU birth place

A LEGAL ruling giving youngsters born in the European Union (EU) the right to remain in their native country with their non-national parents could have major implications for Irish immigration policy, according to immigrants groups.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) welcomed the judgment by the EU Court of Justice which could lead to Irish-born children of former asylum seekers having the right to remain in Ireland with their immigrant parents, who would subsequently have the right to work.

Former international students who had children in this country are also likely to be affected as are former migrant workers and their Irish-born children whose work permits ran out.

A case is ongoing in the High Court where Nigerian parents and siblings of Irish citizen children are challenging deportation decisions.

The Irish Human Rights Commission is involved in the four linked judicial review proceedings as amicus curiae (non-partisan friend of the court).

It’s likely that yesterday’s European Court of Justice ruling will impact on this case, which is due to close today.

Last night the Immigrant Council said the practice by the Department of Justice of refusing to give parents of Irish children permission to live and work in this country must end as it breaches European law.

ICI’s senior solicitor Hilkka Becker said while the case centred on a family in Belgium, the ruling would have consequences in this country. She demanded parents already deported, be allowed to return.

“Put simply, what this means in practice is that Irish children have a right to live with their parents in Ireland and for their parents to work and provide for them within the state,” Ms Becker said.

“No longer will families be allowed to be separated unless there is a truly exceptional reason. The Immigrant Council has worked with many families separated by our immigration rules and suffering real anguish and financial hardship as a result. We are delighted with this ruling.”

The judgment in the case of the Zambrano family ruled EU law precludes a member state from refusing a right of residence.

Last night a spokesman for the Department of Justice said that this area of law was a “complex issue” and that the department was studying the ruling.

Immigration lawyer Derek Stewart said a reversal of the law as it stands would likely lead to a number of deported immigrants returning to these shores, recession or not.

“I think that you will certainly have some numbers looking to come back. I don’t think they’ll be flowing back in numbers due to the recessionary state we’re in, but still I do think it will still be a more advantageous country to be in than certain African countries or far eastern European countries. I don’t think we’re looking at a huge financial issue. I think we’re looking at giving children equal rights irrespective of their colour, creed or parentage,” he said.

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