Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality

Undocumented Migrants Living in Ireland: Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

2:30 pm

Mr. Jayson Montenegro:

My name is Jayson. I am from the Philippines and I have lived and worked in Ireland for 11 years. I am undocumented. In 2004, I looked at my children and asked myself, "Can I give them a good life or will they be the same as me, working hard but getting nowhere?". As a father, one does not want to see that. One wants to give one's children a good future, so I left the Philippines and came here.

For my first six years in Ireland, I worked in maintenance, cleaning and painting. We call it a 3D job, that is, dirty, difficult and dangerous. I was not paid much, but the employer promised me a work permit and I was learning a lot, so I stayed. It was not until I came to the MRCI for advice that I discovered there had never been any chance of getting me a work permit. I am now working as a carer, looking after an elderly person. I have been working as a carer for over four years. I have always worked for the 11 years I have been here.

When I first left the Philippines my youngest was five years of age. He kept asking me when I was coming back. He is 17 years of age now and has not stopped asking. He wants to be a pilot, and he has the grades and is doing well in school. That is the reason I am still here, to continue to fund my youngest child's education to give him the opportunities I never had. With the money I have earned here, my two daughters have gone to college. One has a degree in IT, the other in midwifery. I put my sister-in-law through college and supported my parents when my father’s heart condition stopped him from working.

This month last year my father passed away suddenly, during a routine operation. The last time I saw him was in 2004, when I left the Philippines to come to Ireland for work. Not being there for his funeral was one of the hardest times in my life. Watching it on Skype and being unable to comfort my mother was difficult beyond words. My family is in the Philippines. I am a foreigner there now. It breaks my heart.

This is where I live and work, I have friends here. I am still supporting my children so they can finish their education. I am in the same situation as the thousands of undocumented Irish in the United States. My story is their story. We have the very same hopes and dreams, and we too deserve a chance to regularise our status. We are calling for a reasonable solution. We could come forward, pay a fee, and have our situations assessed on a case-by-case basis. It would be transparent, straightforward and fair.

I am very happy to be here today to share my story but I am one of thousands of people in this situation. We are a asking for a chance to be recognised and contribute more formally to Irish society. We are not recent arrivals to Ireland. We are here long-term, have put down roots and are making a valuable contribution. We have been calling for regularisation for over seven years. We believe it is time for change.

We would love to see the same political leadership of the kind President Barack Obama has shown in the US. I know that members of this committee value fairness, equality and justice and I hope they will support our recommendation for the introduction of a regularisation scheme in Ireland in the lifetime of this Government.


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