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File photo of Kenny in US in 2011. Leon Farrell/
St Patrick's Day

Enda Kenny: Situation of undocumented Irish an 'absolute priority' on US visit

Kenny said he would be raising the issue with Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

ENDA KENNY HAS said the situation of undocumented Irish in the US is a top priority for him on his visit.

The Taoiseach said he would be raising the issue with President Donald Trump when he speaks to him during the St Patrick’s Day meeting on Thursday.

Speaking at an event in Philadelphia, Kenny said the issue of undocumented Irish living in the US was one of his “absolute priorities” in meeting the president and vice-president Mike Pence.

“It will be no surprise to anyone here that one of my absolute priorities in meeting Vice President Pence, President Trump and other senior political figures this coming week is to renew the strong case on behalf of the hard-working, tax-paying Irish people in the United States,” Kenny told the crowd at an Irish American dinner in Philadelphia.

“We all understand that immigration reform is a politically sensitive issue,” he said.

However, I truly believe that a US immigration system that addresses the needs of the undocumented Irish, and provides for future legal flows, will be of huge benefit to America.

There are an estimated 50,000 Irish people living and working in the US without official legal status. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric since his election has worried this large group about what the future holds.

Kenny said that Irish in the US without legal status had been “living in the shadows” for too long and that they wanted “nothing more than to continue making their contribution to this great country”.

Kenny also spoke of Ireland’s improving economic situation, saying that the country was emerging from its financial difficulties “with renewed strength and confidence”.

He lauded the continued relationship between Ireland and the Irish American community, saying that the country would “continue to cherish the bonds we have here in the United States”.

Kenny is in the US for the annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations. He will meet with US president Trump and Pence on Thursday, when he will hand over a bowl of shamrocks.

Read: ‘Enda, parents sent children to industrial schools because a court compelled them or they had no choice’

Read: ‘He’s a sexual predator’: John Halligan is not happy with Kenny meeting Trump

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