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Dublin: 5°C Sunday 23 January 2022

First big survey of undocumented migrants says there are at least 20,000 in Ireland

The Migrants Rights Centre says it’s time to let them stay.

Image: Thejournal

A NEW REPORT from the Migrants Rights Centre suggests that 20% of undocumented migrants have been in Ireland for over a decade.

The major survey of more than 500 people found that  81% are working, 44% are parents and 86.55% entered the country legally.

The research was conducted by Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) along with undocumented migrants from MRCI’s Justice for the Undocumented campaign group and is the first of its kind, says MRCI’s Helen Lowry.

“540 undocumented migrants responded to the survey, opening up about their jobs, their families and their lives in Ireland. We now have a picture of the undocumented population in Ireland.

“The vast majority are working – in restaurants, as cleaners, as carers and childminders – and a huge percentage have young children either here or in their country of origin.”


The report tells the story of Abdullah.

He is undocumented and runs a restaurant in Ireland, having lived here for eight years.

“This research shows that most undocumented people are like me: young, hard-working, educated and committed to Ireland both financially and emotionally. I am the same as an undocumented Irish person in the US, unable to travel back to see my family. Last year my father passed away; it was so hard for me not being there.

All we’re asking for is a chance to come forward and regularise our situations – to be able to visit our families, to move on with our lives and to stop constantly looking over our shoulders.

The research also estimates that there are between 20,000 and 26,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland at the moment – including thousands of children, though the Department of Justice disputes this.

Read: “We’re not looking for a handout, we have to earn citizenship”

Read: ‘I feel so safe in Ireland, but as an undocumented migrant I fear for my future’

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