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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 28 November, 2014

US congressmen visit Leinster House to discuss undocumented Irish

Fine Gael TD Pat Breen, who met with them, will travel to Washington next month to lobby politicians on the US immigration reform legislation.

Leinster House
Leinster House
Image: Clem via Flickr

TWELVE US CONGRESSMEN today met at Leinster House with Fine Gael TD Pat Breen, to discuss immigration reform and the status of some 50,000 undocumented Irish people in the States.

Breen, who is also chair of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee met with the congressmen as he will next month lead a delegation to Washington to lobby politicians on immigration reform legislation that is due to pass through the House of Representatives.

Breen said that the legislation’s recent passage through the US Senate was a “landmark step in bringing about long-awaited changes to the US immigration system, which will change the lives of thousands of undocumented Irish, who are living in limbo”.

He said that the 50,000 undocumented Irish make up a tiny proportion of the overall number of illegal immigrants in the US.

“Irish immigrants want to contribute to US society; but instead they have been living in the shadows, unable to participate fully in American life or return home to Ireland for major family events,” Breen said.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon at Irish funerals to see somebody holding up a smart phone or tablet so that an undocumented son or daughter or brother or sister in the US can connect in a small way with the funeral of their loved one. In Co Clare, a local funeral director has started streaming funerals online for the benefit of grieving relatives who cannot get home.

The Fine Gael TD said that he had “very constructive engagement” with the twelve congressmen and hoped to progress this further in Washington next month.

Ireland’s Ombudsman has recently suggested that the government’s push to have the status of the undocumented Irish in the US regularised is “a little hypocritical” as it also seeks to adopt measures here that make it “quite uninviting to seek asylum in Ireland”.

Related: Tánaiste: US Senate vote brings immigration reform a step closer>

Read: Ombudsman: Our treatment of asylum seekers is unacceptable>

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