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'I feel so safe in Ireland, but as an undocumented migrant I fear for my future'

Groups have said the government here should do the same for undocumented migrants as it is asking the US to do for undocumented Irish people living there.

Image: woman at window image via Shutterstock

MIGRANT GROUPS IN Ireland have said that calls for immigration reform in the US to help the undocumented Irish must be matched by a commitment to deliver the same for migrants “living in limbo” in Ireland.

Today the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) warned that the” failure by successive governments to honour past commitments has left too many migrants and their families caught in a similar situation” to the undocumented in the US.

Similarly, the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) said the government’s silence on the “identical plight of undocumented workers, families and children here in Ireland is deafening”.

“We are just like the undocumented Irish across the globe,” said Jayson Montenegro, spokesperson for the Justice for Undocumented campaign. “We too are deeply rooted within our communities, working, paying taxes and trying to make a better life for ourselves and our families. Ireland is our home. Many members however live in the shadows under stress and fear of deportation, not able to go home to see family and loved ones.”

‘I consider myself Irish’

It is estimated that there are 26,000 to 30,000 undocumented people living in Ireland.

Priya from Mauritius has lived in Ireland for over five years and is a member of Justice for the Undocumented. She said:

At this stage I consider myself Irish. I have two children who go to school here and they don’t know any other life. They are the invisible and unrecognised Irish. As a woman and a mother I feel so safe in Ireland, but as an undocumented migrant I fear for my future. This weekend is very special to us as a family. I have time off and we plan to attend and enjoy the Dublin parade. We go every year and I love the spectacle and the music. I will of course be wearing green.

ICI said it hopes legal reforms expected in a new bill before the end of the year will ensure that people have access to a modern, efficient and transparent immigration system. It said key priorities in this legislation should include the introduction of an independent appeals mechanism, clear guidelines and regulations, the right to family unification once conditions are met and the introduction of procedures for stateless persons.

It is also calling for proper protections for victims of human trafficking including the introduction of residence permit where their stay is necessary owing to their personal situation.

Over-reliance on discretion

“As an independent law centre we see at first hand the confusion, frustration and hurt caused by an immigration system which is cumbersome, lacks transparency and places an over-reliance on discretion,” commented senior solicitor with the council Hilkka Becker.

She said protections need to be provided to legally resident migrants and Irish citizens who are financially or otherwise dependent on their non-EU national spouse or partner and need them to remain in the country or join them here.

Becker also said that more favourable provisions need to be introduced to allow for the consideration of the situation of single parents, victims of domestic violence, and those left alone as a result of the death of their spouse or partner.

Government ministers will spend this weekend lobbying politicians in the US on behalf of the undocumented Irish, as they join St Patrick’s celebrations in the country.

Read: Woman ‘forced to drop rape charges’ so she could stay in the country>

Read: Joan Burton has no plans for UK-style crackdown on welfare for jobless immigrants>

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