ILIR president Ciaran Staunton said: “We are advising people not to be alarmed by scaremongering. The authorities don’t have the manpower to go after people who have committed misdemeanours like parking fines as they have undocumented criminals with felony offences like murder and rape to deal with first. Overstaying a visa is not a criminal offence in the US,” he warned.
He also rejected calls for the Taoiseach to boycott the traditional visit to the White House on St Patrick’s Day.
“He should go. Irish America will be there. Ireland is the only country in the world that has a standing appointment at the White House every year. Other countries would give their right hand for this access. To not attend won’t serve any purpose. It won’t affect US policy,” he said.
Mr Staunton also pointed out that while the Irish Government had been quick to denounce the US president’s action on immigration, they have been slow to tackle the extensive red tape that hampers undocumented Irish returning to live in Ireland.
Such “roadblocks”, he said, were put in place during the Celtic Tiger as the Irish who emigrated to the US in the 1980s and returned to Ireland in the 1990s never faced such difficulties.
“Charity begins at home. Instead of criticising President Trump’s actions, I’d like to ask the Government what will happen if the 50,000 undocumented Irish are forced to come back?
“The returning undocumented, Irish citizens, encounter serious problems in opening bank accounts if they return to Ireland; they have to apply for a driver’s licence all over again if they are gone for 10 years, they will have lost their no claims bonus for car insurance and they can’t avail of the many farming supports and grants available as they can’t supply tax records,” he said.
Meanwhile, a statement has been issued by some of this country’s human rights organisations urging the Government to condemn President Trump’s ban on refugees and migrants from seven blacklisted countries.
The statement is signed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Amnesty Ireland, the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI), Free Legal Advice Centres (Flac), Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre, the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and the Irish Refugee Council.
It also called on ministers Charles Flanagan and Frances Fitzgerald to urgently review the pre-clearance system in operation at Dublin and Shannon airports and to take action if there was a “reasonable chance” a person’s rights under international human rights law “may be under threat”. They also want anybody refused pre-clearance at an Irish airport to be given information on the relevant laws and the opportunity to seek legal advice.
“This executive order is a barely concealed attempt to discriminate on nationality and religious grounds,” the statement said.