Dáil debates

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

United States Immigration Policy: Motion


5:05 pm

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I am sharing time with Deputy O'Loughlin and Deputy Lisa Chambers. I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the opportunity to allow us to speak on this important matter. Fianna Fáil has sought and secured support from almost all of our colleagues on our motion condemning the US policy of removing children from their immigrant parents. Such a policy is, in my view and that of my party, cruel and demeaning. It is an act of inhumanity and one to which we cannot and should not turn a blind eye. The US Government has separated approximately 2,000 children from their parents at the border since implementing a practice that results in family separations.

This zero tolerance policy entails criminally charging those entering the US illegally, including asylum seekers. This has led to parents being separated from their children, who are not being charged with a crime. As a result of this policy, hundreds of children are being housed in detention centres, including warehouses and converted supermarkets. Images and videos of children in what are effectively cages and crying out for their parents are very distressing. This latest policy follows on from an executive order in February which included a 90 day travel ban from seven Muslim majority countries, a 120 day freeze on admission of any refugees into the United States, as well as an indefinite halt to admitting any refugees from Syria. At that time Fianna Fáil rightly criticised the executive order as discriminatory and a policy that undermined the integrity of the international refugee protection programme. I have no hesitation today in criticising this latest policy which results in children being mercilessly separated from their parents. It is simply wrong and America can and must do better.

Ireland is a friend of the United States, our countries enjoy a warm and enduring relationship and thousands of Irish people have come to consider the United States as their home. Our party very much values this relationship with the United States and recognises the importance of the close ties and strong bonds that we have built over many years and over different US administrations, and we want to maintain this relationship. Our friendship should not prevent us, however, from speaking the truth and calling out injustices when and where we see them. This is one time when we must speak up and speak out. I am calling, therefore, for this policy to be reversed immediately and for a more compassionate approach to be adopted.

We as a party recognise that migration poses challenges and some countries face more challenges than others, but all countries that believe in human rights, dignity and the fair and proportionate application of the law have a duty to deal with such challenges compassionately and fairly. While it is not always easy we must never lose sight of what is morally indefensible.

In a recently released report the UN Refugee Agency said that 68.5 million people were displaced as of the end of 2017. Among them were 16.2 million people who became displaced during 2017 itself, either for the first time or on a repeated basis, indicating a huge number of people on the move and equivalent to 44,500 people being displaced each day, or a person becoming displaced every two seconds. War, conflict and poverty are forcing people to flee their homes and their countries to seek better lives elsewhere. The reality is that many do not undertake these journeys lightly and often risk their lives in the process. The scale of the migration crisis has presented many countries with challenges and America is no different, but what sets countries apart is how humanely they deal with this challenge. It is imperative that America, as a country that has so often led on human rights, reverses this indefensible policy immediately and reunites the children with their parents.


Derrick Atkinson
Posted on 21 Jun 2018 9:47 pm (Report this comment)

Trump has now changed the law so families are kept together so what are babbling about .
I think better you stick to supporting those that put you in office instead of critising other governments .

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