Illegal migrants in plea to be let stay in Ireland

A plea is being made for ministers travelling abroad this St Patrick’s Day not to forget the undocumented migrants in Ireland. For while politicians traditionally use the annual trips to plead the case of illegal Irish immigrants, particularly in the United States, it is estimated 26,000 immigrants in Ireland are also without papers and in fear of being deported.

Illegal migrants in plea to be let stay in Ireland

The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland will tomorrow hold a street party demonstration for undocumented migrants and their families as a way of bringing the issue out of the shadows.

The centre’s spokeswoman Aoife Murphy said undocumented migrants wanted to show that they were committed to Ireland and desperately wanted the chance to make this country their legal home.

“We surveyed 540 people last year and found 81% of them had been here more than five years and one in five were here more than 10 years,” she said.

“They’re just like the undocumented Irish abroad. They’re mainly overstays who came in legally on a work permit or study or tourist visa and stayed because of work or attachments they’d made.

“And they’re all contributing — 87% were working and the rest were studying or stay-at-home parents. You have to work because you can’t claim any benefits,” she said.

The all-party Oireachtas Justice Committee a few months ago recommended the Government consider a once-off amnesty to regularise the position of undocumented migrants who were in the country for four years, or three years with children, subject to a two-year probationary period.

However, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said in January she had “no plans to implement a regularisation programme. There is a clear obligation on anyone coming to live and work in the State to respect our laws,” she said. In contrast, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said in December: “Achieving relief for undocumented Irish migrants in the US continues to be a priority for the Government.”

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