Immigration is good for the country and positive for rural Ireland, according to Finian McGrath.
The Dublin North-Central TD made the comments after Minister Michael Ring called for a national debate on immigration and asylum-seekers.
Recent protests in Galway, Leitrim, Mayo and Roscommon have delayed the opening of a number of direct provision centres.
Mr McGrath, the minister for disabilities, says the positives of immigration are being completely overlooked:
"It's good for Ireland, it's great for our economy and it's positive for rural Ireland.
"In my own sector as minster for disabilities, I couldn't run the services without a lot of immigrant workers.
I just think it's essential we come up front, we have the debate, we confront any prejudice (and) any form of racism before it gets out of control.
Mr McGrath added that he believes direction provision can have a positive impact in certain areas:
"Direct provision is an imperfect system," he admitted. "At the same time, it is the only one we have and there are some amazing people there.
"We've seen in Wicklow's situation where you have 93 people in the direct provision - over 50% are working.
"I want to nail a lot of the myths about what's going on because some people are exploiting the situation."